Contentious Voices – Exerting Control

QuestionA colleague of mine mentioned something in passing that has me thinking about the contentious voices surrounding our lives.  Consider with me for a moment; when the last time you heard just the news was?  No commentary, no hidden bias, no reporting for emotional reaction, simply a description of the events of the day, news?  I cannot remember when I last heard a news report.  It seems that to get the local news, I have to question the motives on the stories, compare news broadcasts for opinions and biases, tune into three or four different radio stations and compare them to the TV, and those to the newspapers, and even then, 90% of what is reported still has to be discounted.

My colleague mentioned that the efforts of contentious voices are to exert emotional control over the audience, for if the audience is emotionally controlled, they are physically controlled.  If they are physically controlled, they can be bent, shaped, and molded into weapons of self-destruction for the entertainment of those controlling the contentious voices.  This insight has me thinking—self-destruction through contentious voices exerting control, all through unbridled emotional understanding.

Exclamation MarkWhen emotional intelligence was first coming out, feel free to read the early papers and books on this topic if you doubt what I am reporting.  Emotional intelligence was declared as the ability to read the emotions in a room and then control the people through their emotions.  For which I have adamantly opposed emotional intelligence as a concept since inception.  I have always felt that trying to control others through their emotions is wrong, in poor taste, and can easily backfire when those being controlled wake up and realize what has been happening to them.  Yet, emotional intelligence has grown as a concept, has broadened in scope, and no one is asking why anymore.  Well, I am, and so are a few others, but the media is working hard to keep us silenced and sidelined as “aluminum hat-wearing non-conformists.”

Yet, contentious voices continue to prey upon people’s emotions nightly and call this “learned commentary,” “democracy dying in darkness,” “in-depth reporting,” and “fair and balanced news,” among many other things.  Republicans against Democrats, Liberals against conservatives, eco-Nazis from both extremes of the planet is going to hell debate, and the list of contentious voices is long and formidable.  Yet, they all have the same playbook, use emotional hooks, sink the emotional hook deeply, and keep pulling that emotional hook every time a person tries to think for themselves.

Dont Tread On MeWell, I would see you escape the hook, wake up mentally, and arise as a powerful individual.  Capable of independent thought and able to reason and think using your own instinct, talents, skills, and innate reasoning.  I am not making a plea to your emotions, and if you ever think I am playing to your emotions, feel free to call me out!  I am not here to enslave your mind, but to free your soul and empower your spirit, to support your goodness, and justify you being the free-thinking person you already are!

Thus, the following reminders regarding emotions.  These are not my thoughts; they originate from Robert Solomon’s incredible book “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice,” which you can purchase from any reputable bookseller for a minimal fee or find in a local library.  If you are close to New Mexico, send me an email to lend you my copy.Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and Choice

  • Solomon begins his book with a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre:
    • For the idea which I have never ceased to develop is that in the end, one is always responsible for what is made of one. Even if one can do nothing else besides assume this responsibility.  For I believe that a man can always make something out of what is made of him.  This is the limit I would today accord to freedom: the small movement which makes of a totally conditioned social being someone who does not render back completely what his conditions has given him.”
  • Emotions involve social narratives as well as physical responses, and an analysis of emotions is an account of our way of being-in-the-world.”
    • Emotions are not occurrences and do not happen to us.
      • Emotions are rational and purposive rather than irrational and disruptive, are very much like actions, and that we choose an emotion much as we choose a course of action.”
    • Emotions are intentional: that is, emotions are “about” something.
      • All emotions are ultimately “about” the world and never simply “about” something particular.
      • Feelings do not have “directions.” The relationship between my being angry and what I am angry about is not contingent between a feeling and an object.
    • Emotions change with our opinions, and so are “rational” in a very important sense.
      • But the rationality of the emotion is time-sensitive, socially sensitive, and environmentally contingent. Unless our societal makeup allows this emotional crossover, emotions cannot often cross between social situations, peer groups, and environments.
      • The cause of an emotion is a function in a certain kind of explanation.
        • Contentious voices know this as a truth and use their contention to drive the emotional functionality of the arguments to spur emotional growth to your detriment!
      • The line between emotions and beliefs is often negligible and non-existent.
        • Another truth contentious voices use to spur emotional hooking in the audience to the audience’s detriment and destruction.
      • Emotions are a normative judgment.
        • We decide the correctness of emoting, based upon the social, environmental, and peer aspects at the time the information is provided.
        • Emotions are cognitive judgments of socially wired animals (humans) who use the lightning reflexes of the brain to make these judgments for personal benefits in a social situation, advancing peer associations, or to survive in a specific environment.
        • Emotions change with our knowledge of the causes of those emotions.

Bobblehead DollOn this last point, consider Joe Biden and his words to different audiences on the campaign trail.  To one audience, he pledged to put oil company officers in jail for unspecified environmental crimes.  To another audience, he promised not to kill coal.  Both declarations were later denounced as verbal gaffes, miss spoken words taken out of a larger context, and phrases that did not mean anything on the campaign trail.  Yet, the words fit the emotion being witnessed, and the crowd forming the environment and peer group being addressed.  All politicians do this, and it is referred to as “politicking” or “playing to the audience’s emotions.”

Finally, consider something with me, a thought, those controlling the contentious voices believe you, the audience, their slaves, for they can control your emotions, like 2-year-olds control play-dough.  Are you a slave?  Will you master your emotional judgments to protect yourself and your family?  The choice is yours, and yours alone to make.  All I can do is offer information and ask for your consideration.  But I will make a promise; if you refuse to master your emotions, you will be destroyed by the contentious voices clamoring for your attention.  These breeders of contention will pull you apart emotionally, creating depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other self-destruction options.

Image - Eagle & FlagThose terrorists rioting over the spring and summer of 2020 were pawns and self-destructive actors to the contentious voices.  We are all living in a time where social influencers play the most extensive role in the lives of people than ever before, and they can play this role because we have unbridled our emotions and refuse to believe that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a tool for social integration.  While the masses are not taught these things, those controlling the contentious voices know these truths, but they also practice hiding this information to destroy the groups they enslave.  Please, free yourself from bondage, take control of your emotions, and never allow anyone to control them ever again!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Fear – The COVID Tool

Bird of PreyThoreau is quoted as saying, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear!”  From February 1918 through April 1920, the globe experienced an H1N1 viral infection, which came to be known as “The Spanish Flu.”  Stories abound regarding the Spanish Flu, how healthy people went to bed and woke up dead.  Stories abound about what governments did, how people reacted, and the science involved in this global panic.  The media during this period was not yet a mouthpiece for radicals and tyrants, and elected representatives and unelected representatives of government worked to stabilize their populations, care for the sick, bury the dead, and recover the financial losses.  Eventually, the world will experience the “Roaring 20s” because of the world leaders’ efforts to recover.

What changed in the century between the Spanish Flu and COVID-19; fear!  Fear has become a tradeable good, a tool for beating people, and a method of communicating lies and half-truths as the ultimate word in human communications.  Why was fear allowed to go from being disregarded into something that can control every population across the world, except for a small minority?Why

Fear Defined

From Psychology Today, we find this gem of information regarding fear.  “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger that has been pivotal throughout human evolution, but especially in ancient times when men and women regularly faced life-or-death situations.”  One of the many pathways to fear leads through the badlands of disgust as an emotional response.  Understand something; emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a social construct.  How to emote correctly in that situation and environment is part of a survival trait and popularity tool to connect to other people (Solomon, 2003).

Social Aspects and Mental Connections

Matthew D. Lieberman (2013) authored “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.”  This book discusses how and why people connect and also disconnect.  The following quote from philosopher Jeremy Bentham discusses the biggest issue in connecting as social beings, “Pain and pleasure … govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think.”  With the brain wired, hard-wired from birth, towards a lust for pleasure, and avoidance of pain, the third aspect of hard-wired encoding is being social.  We need each other to completely experience pleasure and avoid pain.

Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and ChoiceHowever, it is also clear that emotions are a choice, a cognitive, conscious, and clear-cut choice.  We learn to read social situations as children, and these early experiences teach us about proper emotions in social situations.  Since our emotions are a social construct and choice, the connections to society, pleasure, and pain become our reality if we allow emotions to rule our minds, which is also a choice, with social influences and a judgment for basic survival.  Fear, especially as it applies to COVID-19 and other viral infections, we must understand our brains’ hard-wired coding and social aspects, plus the emotional decisions we consciously make.  If we fail to understand these connections, we miss how every person was manipulated and propagandized into a method of thinking and acting during a viral infection with a 99% survival rate and why COVID reactions were one way, and every other viral outbreak elicited the exact opposite response.

There is an entire branch of science dedicated to studying these connections and responses called social-cognitive neuroscience.  I am barely scratching the surface of these topics to provide the COVID response explanation, and I encourage further research if you doubt or would like more information.  I am not a social-cognitive neuroscientist, simply an industrial and organizational psychologist who works to understand the why in human interactions.Apathy

Lieberman (2013) points out some interesting aspects of fear; in the top ten lists of fears, three categories emerge, fear of physical harm and death (including emotional and mental harm), the death or loss of loved ones, and public speaking.  The hard-wiring of reward and fear, pain and pleasure, and our need to connect are physically exhibited through oxytocin release and the septal regions of the brain.  fMRI’s have reflected this physical connection and hard-wiring in every person’s brain.  When oxytocin is administered, humans show favoritism towards liked groups and strangers but increased hostility towards disliked groups — making the connections to fear being a product of disgust.

Daniel Kahneman (2011) authored “Thinking Fast and Slow.”  In discussing how the brain works, Kahneman (2011) introduces intuitive heuristics.  A heuristic or heuristic technique is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational but is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate, short-term goal or approximation.  Intuitive heuristics is problem-solving using intuition.  In the US Military, we called these “WAGs” or “Wild-Arsed Guesses.”Plato 2

In reviewing the literature on the social dynamics of Spanish Flu and COVID-19, we find two main concerns.  The early stages of both health crises show leaders acting with intuitive heuristics, trying to solve the problem, e.g., avoiding pain, through educated guesses and flat-out WAGs.  The second dynamic is the social fear spread by, influenced with, and spurred to new heights by corporate media and politics.  We all remember how Dr. Fauci was first for and then vehemently against hydroxychloroquine, even though Dr. Fauci’s research had reflected the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine since the 1990s against viral SAR-Cov (coronaviruses) viral infections.

Where we are today – Nowhere Good!

VaccineIsrael announced they are planning to re-enter restrictions for wearing a mask inside your home as a government mandate due to a COVID-19 mutation called “Delta.”  The vaccine news continues to discuss whether or not the original vaccine developed will be effective against the new mutations of the coronavirus or if a booster vaccine will be required.  We have a causal relationship between giving children and teenagers the vaccine and a rare heart disease.  There are still doctors worldwide reading Dr. Fauci’s research and trying to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and being thrown in jail or facing ridicule and loss of license to practice medicine.  Worse, we still have doctors who recommend doing nothing if exposed to COVID until you cannot breathe, taking the lackadaisical approach to practicing medicine.

Emtional Investment CycleAll of these stories have a similar root cause, fear!  The politicians fear losing their job, so they overreact.  The media stirs up fear in a populace, for scared people are easier to keep emotionally distracted than logically thinking; hence fear sells advertising, and the media knows how to sell advertising.  Fear drives irrational purchases, like packing your garage full of toilet paper and bottled water.  Fear drives avoidance and acceptance of freedom stealing government mandates.

Question 3Fear drove a recent business interaction, where a person hard of hearing had removed their mask to lip-read during a conversation.  The business leader demanded they both put their masks back on per “company policy.”  Only later was the hearing impairment made known to the business leader.  What has been the company response, investing in transparent and expensive masks.  Fear driving irrational business decisions based upon fear of risks rather than proactive methods for conducting business.

One of the most problematic aspects of COVID has been accepting fear as a valid reason to take action, report your neighbors, and make wrongheaded business decisions.  When COVID-Hysteria finally concludes, how foolish will people feel for blindly following instead of logically thinking and acting?  Worse, what will the fallout be from being made to feel foolish?  Long-term, does the feeling of foolishness and fear change how people listen and follow government mandates in the future?  What laws will change social interactions and societal morals due to the fallout from COVID?

Knowledge Check!Honest questions, to which the answers must be sought and explored before the media decides the populace is too stupid to think for themselves, and they force solutions onto the politicians through shoddy statistical lies.  America and every representative government globally, we the owners of our governments, need to become more proactive before we wake up one morning, and freedom has been lost, rights trampled, and liberty was stolen for the power of politicians and the media.  Not fear-mongering.  Just a concerned citizen looking for answers.

References

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Lieberman, M. D. (2013). Social: Why our brains are wired to connect. NY: Oxford University Press, USA.

Solomon, R. C. (2007). Not passion’s slave: Emotions and choice. Oxford University Press.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: School Thy Feelings

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsI know what you’re thinking, not another article on controlling emotions and feelings – well, yes.  However, I wanted to approach this subject from a different tack.  I discuss this topic so often because of the dearth witnessed in choosing proper emotional responses or not choosing an emotional response to the improvement of the environmental conditions in a situation.  Across the globe, we find daily, even hourly, instances where emotional diatribes are ruling common sense, destroying logic, and creating hordes of emotionally charged people hell-bent on destroying.  If I can help just one person understand this cycle of emotional abuse and then choose to correct their behavior, even if that person is only me, I consider these articles successful

Emtional Investment CycleToday’s title comes from Charles W. Penrose (n.d.), who penned the following poem, which has been set to music; the poem is based upon Proverbs 16:32, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.”

School Thy Feelings

School thy feelings, O my brother,
Train thy warm, impulsive soul,
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
School thy feelings, there is power
In the cool, collected mind;
Passion shatters reason’s tower,
Makes the clearest vision blind.

School thy feelings; condemnation_
Never pass on friend or foe,
Tho’ the tide of accusation
Like a flood of truth may flow
Hear defense before deciding,
And a ray of light may gleam,
Showing thee what filth is hiding
Underneath the shallow stream.

Should affliction’s acrid vial
Burst o’er thy unsheltered head,
School thy feelings to the trial,
Half its bitterness hath fled
Art thou falsely, basely slandered?
Does the world begin to frown?
Gauge thy wrath by wisdom’s standard;
Keep thy rising anger down.

Rest thyself on this assurance:
Time’s a friend to innocense,
And the patient, calm endurance
Wins respect and aids defense.
Noblest minds have finest feelings,
Quiv’ring strings a breath can move,
And the Gospel’s sweet revealings,
Tune them with the key of love.

Hearts so sensitively molded,
Strongly fortified should be,
Train’d to firmness and enfolded
In a calm tranquility.
Wound not willfully another;
Conquer haste with reason’s might;
School thy feelings, sister, brother,
Train them in the path of right.

Knowledge Check!Consider with me these words for a moment.  Controlling emotion is hard, I understand completely.  However, how often do we try to control emotion?  I have been driving, stuck in restricted traffic, and becoming a raving lunatic through choice because of how someone else drove.  My feelings caused them no harm but embarrassed me.  I witnessed road rage, where a 30-car pileup at 45 mph was narrowly avoided.  These two gentlemen would speed up, get around the other, then brake check, hindering and hampering the smooth flow of traffic due to selfish emotional choices.

Besides traffic, where else do we frequently witness unchecked emotional interactions?  Politics, the news, sports arenas, the supermarket, but worst of all is social media, and especially in the emotional controls social media companies exert upon those wishing to use the service.  Consider LinkedIn, they have policies in place to police thought, and curb conversation between professionals, solely because another person complained.  Facebook banned President Trump, using false pretenses and sophistry when the reality is that the media giant always wanted to exert control and thwart free and open communication.Foghorn Leghorn - Medication

Speaking of President Trump, what about the behaviors excused under the banner, “Trump Derangement Syndrome?”  The behaviors of these adults, acting worse than a spoiled toddler, was beyond deplorable, detestable, and needed public shaming.  Instead, their behavior got excused, tolerated, and America is worse for having emotional behavior justified in this manner.

Semper GumbyAs a kid, if my parents did not like another child’s behavior, I was refused the opportunity to play with that child for fear the child’s emotional behaviors would rub off on me, and I would begin to act like a nincompoop!  Yet, as an adult, I can witness rampant emotionally charged conduct, and I have to tolerate nonsense due to helicopter parents, political choices, and the media; I think not!  I firmly support Robert Solomon’s claim that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a social construct.  In supporting this line of reasoning, I affirm I am not perfect in choosing better emotions, choosing the proper emotion, or even judging social situations properly to emote at all.  However, now that I have been made aware, I am actively striving to emote less and know the why behind my emotions to empower better decision-making down the road.

There is a piece of golden advice given to commanders in the military, choose when to become angry as a method of commanding performance improvement.  I had a commander who understood this principle well and many an officer who had no clue.  I met non-commissioned officers who understood this principle well and others who had been promoted above their level of incompetence, who chose not to understand the value of controlling emotional outbursts.  I have worked with managers across America in a myriad of positions who could learn this lesson, and I have met some amazing people who know this lesson all too well and apply it perfectly.Plato 2

Consider well the words from Charles Penrose, and believe you can choose to emote or not to emote, when to emote, where, and how to emote, as tools for improving communication, performance in yourself and others, and in making better decisions.  Runaway emotions hinder, not help, performance.  Emotional hyperbole thwarts and hurts everyone, everything, and everywhere it is found.  How embarrassing to you is it when you witness emotional meltdowns?  Be it a toddler, teenager, or adult; the sight is truly embarrassing when emotions run away.

Image - Eagle & FlagThus, on this Memorial Weekend, let us firmly recommit to living life with more controlled emotions where we are choosing our emotional states more precisely.  Selecting our emotions more carefully and allowing the emotions of others to have less hold upon our minds and bodies.  As I continue to make strides in not allowing myself to be hooked into other people’s emotions, I do not lose anything, and the control gained improves how I feel mentally and physically.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.