Let’s start the year off with one of my favorite ideas. Good mental health and the idea of cognitive dissonance. I am a believer that one of the reasons our nation seems to have slipped its gears is the overwhelming number of dissonant events they are forced to accept just to make it through the day. With our news media in the tentacles of the great vampire squid of corporate power it becomes harder to put the pieces together and know what makes sense anymore.
So that we are all on the same page, we should start off with a more official point of view…
Social psychologists refer to cognitive dissonance as the presence of incongruent relations among cognitions (thought and understanding) that frequently results in excessive mental stress and discomfort. Ultimately, individuals who hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas and/or values frequently experience cognitive dissonance. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.
For example, an individual is likely to experience dissonance if he or she is addicted to smoking cigarettes and continues to smoke despite believing it is unhealthy.
Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
- “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”
- “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.”
With this lovely explanation in mind, (thank you, Wikipedia) I am going to engage in a bit of cognitive dissonance discovery after reviewing the last few months of what passes for news. If you find yourself in agreement, you too may be experiencing a tiny bit of STRESS due to your inability to process the incongruencies of our times…
You have a right to an education…as long as you aren’t a six year old hugging another classmate and being accused of sexual harassment or unless you chew a pastry into the shape of a gun, or unless you are a Black kid who might be hungry, or distracted, or harassed by gangs or any number of other reasons you have difficulties in school; or unless the School-to-Prison pipeline is clogged and they need fresh bodies to keep those corporate prisons full…
And while we are on the topic of education, you have the right to an education…as long as we don’t need stealth bombers or tanks or any other kind of infrastructure necessary for bombing brown people all over the world. In which case, screw your education, there are people that need to be “freed” somewhere else.
You have the right to buy and smoke up to an ounce of marijuana…in Colorado. Everywhere else in the nation, you can expect to spend ten to twenty-five years in prison (if you haven’t already) for carrying that same ounce of that sweet cannabis sativa. If you’re brown expect a longer sentence, if you’re not, expect that “Affluenza” ensures you find your way into a rehab facility for…help.
You have the right to privacy…as long as you don’t expect it from your government’s intelligence agencies, your employer, the police or your spouse. The development of social media and the strange vanity of an insecure nation allows people to put everything they know, everything they do, and everything they are on public display for people who would happily exploit that information for profit. Privacy is dead, anyway.
You have the right to media representation, the ability to see yourself reflected in your local media…unless you are some shade of brown. Then you can expect that newscasters will be white men, experts on said news about brown people will be white men, consultants on the behavior of brown people will be white men, and even when the issue is about women, let’s say female reproduction for instance, the person they will be interview will be a, you guessed it, a white man. The only time you can expect to see a brown face is if it’s being married to a white one (or selling Cheerios, fighting monsters on science-fiction movies, or rejecting each other in night time dramas for their white co-workers…)
You have the right to eat food…as long as you don’t expect to know how it was raised, where it was genetically modified, or what artificial chemicals are pumped into the vat its processed in. Megacorporations like Monsanto (a chemical company, not a food company) don’t want to label their products because you might want to hold them accountable when your grandchild has three eyes attributed to genetically modified food. Don’t expect to eat healthy anymore. Frankenfoods are becoming more inevitable than ever.
You have the right of free speech…unless you are protesting the rapine corporate practices which bankrupted you, or if you happen to be a whistleblower reporting on government malfeasance. Or you say the wrong thing to a cop and he shoots you and gets a three week paid vacation before going back to work.
You have the right to remain silent…unless the cops can convince you to confess by any means necessary BEFORE they read you your Miranda or can plea bargain you into cell avoiding a trial altogether or they pay a backed up police lab to mix up your DNA and some other convicts so you can do a cool stretch in prison for a crime you didn’t commit.
You have the right to clean water…unless you live downstream from a chemical plant which spills its effluvia into your water supply causing sickness, mutation and death, or live next to a fracking facility which will poison your water supply in its quest for clean natural gas, or unless your a performance artist who really prefers your water to catch on fire.
You have the right to an attorney…not saying you can actually afford one. Some states are even considering getting rid of public defenders altogether. Not that having one will matter if your judge is being paid by prison corporations to put you behind bars to fulfill a quota and a receive a tidy payoff.
You have the right to a fair and impartial government…unless you happen to notice that half of your government is comprised of millionaires who are voting primarily for their corporate interests instead of your public safety or when you notice you work 290 days a year and are called lazy by said officials who work a mere 90 days and make $175,000 a year plus Cadillac benefits packages.
You have the right to own a house…unless you give up the right when your banking institution runs a scheme which collapses the banking industry and disrupts the world’s communal economy while forcing your property values to drop to zero, putting your house underwater and which further destabilizes the economy and puts you and everyone you know out of work and ultimately out of your home which the bank will then sell for an excellent profit to a corporate real estate agency. The circle of corporate life…guess which end you are on.
You have the right to a fair justice system…unless you are a banker who destabilizes an economy with commodities fraud, or insider trading with government officials or launders money with criminal cartels, or you get the idea. No bankers will ever be penalized as long as they can pay a fine with three weeks of earnings to the justice department. Only the protesters who stand out in front of said banks will ever be sent to jail.
You have the right to expect that when confronted by the police and unarmed you will be taken into custody…unless you happen to be handcuffed, face down, surrounded by police and get shot in the back, by accident, of course, or unless you happen to be a child walking through a field and get shot by an gun expert who couldn’t tell the difference between a real gun and a toy or unless you happen to be an unarmed but mentally disturbed man who after running from the police gets shot at and is subsequently charged with assault after the police’s bullets (from their guns) hit two innocent bystanders.
If you are driving down the road, you have the right to expect that if the police stop you, they will speak to you before they start shooting…unless there is a manhunt going on and extreme measures are necessary, as in the case of the Los Angeles police who shot up three vehicles (with people not related to the case in any way) in their hunt for a fellow officer, REPUTEDLY on a rampage. While no one, besides the rampaging officer who was set on fire and burned alive, was hurt, I am certain none of the people who were shot at for driving a vehicle that resembled the dead officer’s were pleased to be a police target without so much as a warning before shooting at them.
You have the right to discriminate…wait you don’t have that right… unless you are a highly religious zealot who believes God doesn’t want you to make cakes for homosexual couples and would rather you burn your business to the ground rather than sell a wedding cake to gay people. We will ignore all the cakes you may sell to gay party planners, corporate event, private parties and to anyone who happens to NOT announce they are gay when they come to your store. Perhaps when this case makes it to the Supreme Court, you can make a case for a “religious right” to discriminate based on their constitutional interpretation.
Can hating minorities as a “religious right” be too far behind?
Now ask yourself, when you walk out the door on any given day, how many of these do you have to put out of your mind before you can make it to your job only to engage in a different set of dissonances necessary to make it through your work environment…
Next on our list of social-psychological dysfunctions: Cultural Schizophrenia!
PS. Normally, I tag and link all the articles these are referenced from, but I decided to let you, the reader have the fun of figuring out where and how these things affect your life, without any special news bias from me. If you can find other samples of cognitive dissonance which affect your life in particular, share them in the comments. Keep it clean, folks.
A Parting Shot
Legislative Dissonance: The Affluenza Defense: Judge Rules Rich Kid’s Rich Kid-ness Makes Him Not Liable for Deadly Drunk Driving Accident
Sara Jessimy Kruzan (born January 8, 1978) is an American victim and survivor of human trafficking. In 1995, at the age of 17, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of her alleged pimp, George Gilbert Howard. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. As a result of her status as a convicted juvenile sentenced to life without parole, Kruzan has received national attention from individuals and judicial reform groups, who advocate for a new trial. On January 2, 2011, as a result of the media attention, Kruzan was granted clemency by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole; she remained incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. In January 2013, her sentence was reduced to second-degree manslaughter and 15 + 4 years, effectively time served, making her eligible for a parole hearing. She was found suitable for parole on June 12, 2013, and the decision was forwarded to Governor Jerry Brown. On October 25, 2013, Brown took no action on the parole board decision, thereby effectively confirming it, allowing the parole board to proceed with the parole of Kruzan. On October 31, 2013, she was paroled from Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla after serving 19 years.