Monday, August 6, 2007

Emotional Intelligence and Politics

Last night I attended what was, essentially, the first meeting of a group of people in the greater Houston area who are progressive in their thinking and feeling a lot of passion about how our country is (or is not) operating at this time. The group was first called together in response to a gathering of people for viewing the Live Earth concert and listening to current democratic candidates respond to questions about how they would manage the problem of pollution and the resultant crisis of global warming.

Some of us at that “party” agreed we’d like to get together again just to have the comfort and support of like-minded people—to have the opportunity to converse about our views and share our feelings about living and working in a community where conservative thought dominates. Many of us confessed we have felt like it was necessary to hide our progressive thinking and suppress our true feelings in fear of social ostracization or worse! Being black-balled, losing our reputations, business connections—our jobs. Isn’t that what our Constitution’s supposed to protect us from? Geez!

Our host for the meeting suggested we read George Lakoff’s book, "Thinking Points" in preparation for the meeting. Lakoff is part of a progressive think tank called the
Rockridge Institute. Rockridge (and Lakoff) have analyzed the success of the conservative or neo-con constituency to engage with the populace and influence the majority to their way of defining or “framing” reality (or truth) and have found that this feat has been accomplished through the conservatives’ ability to stir people at a subconscious and emotional level and activate “deep frames” of reference (or, from a Jungian perspective, major archetypes) that are so significant to the security of the target audience’s basic identity, that many would find it hard to resist.

He makes the point that many progressive thinking people (like our group) have been left stuttering and sputtering in response to hearing judgments and decisions being made based on a frame of reasoning that is so removed from our own system of values and beliefs as to offend or to outright defy our commonly held sense of decency. “Moral indignation” is the name given this feeling reaction in the field of social psychology. It often catches a person so off-guard that s/he is speechless in the face of it and finds herself with no ability to gather her wits and make a sensible response. Sound familiar?

Because we haven’t examined and learned to verbalize our own cognitive frames and the deep emotionally charged beliefs and experiences supporting them, we are at a loss for words when it comes to defending our most heart-felt truths. In order to better express ourselves, our own feelings and beliefs, it is necessary first to examine them at depth and get clear on just what they are—then it is important to learn how best to express them in a way we can be “heard” by others who may be coming from a different point of view--a different "deep frame" of reference. This way of processing emotionally informed material and learning to express it in a constructive manner is a significant component of emotional intelligence. I'm going to call this process of political personal growth work—“finding your own voice”!

More on that later!

Other books by Lakoff are "Moral Politics", "Metaphor, Morality, and Politics", "Don't Think Like an Elephant", and more.


yours truly said...

Great new blog, Audrey! You hit the nail on the head! So true about feeling "slapped in the face" shock at the sheer audacity! Sometimes I view the news blogs and am amazed at how many honestly consider this administration the best ever! To me it is no less than a dangerous regime. And yet, I am detached to a degree, seeing it from a larger view. Liberals and conservatives sit opposite sides of the fence and teeter totter throughout the decades, moving us ever closer to where we're going. Sadly there is much lost, but there is also, over time, much gained.

In her own Voice said...

Well, thank you, Lora. Great you stopped by! Your lovely lavender site is so pleasant to visit, and your jewelry so exquisite. (If any of you new to blogging would like to look at Lora Kelley Designs, just click on her user-name(yours truly)in the comment posts, and it'll take you to her profile, where you can click on her blog!)

A "dangerous regime" it is, Lora, so much so that it has pushed me over the edge and out of my place of detachment. I, like you, have for many years, been able to sit outside the ring and watch 'em fight, assuming a balance will always be achieved in the long run.

However the steady march to the extreme right in the last fifteen plus years, this last one of W's being the most alarming, has gotten me off my usual "stand by and mediate the power struggle" routine. (After all, I'm a therapist--that's what I do!)

But when I see an extreme abuse of power in a marriage or family situation, where obviously the vulnerable are at great risk for harm, I become more directive about getting them to safety and helping them enter into the legal or political process that will protect what/whomever is at risk. And right now, I'm afraid that is us and our heart-felt values!

Our voices haven't been heard, but I think that's b/c we haven't been speaking!

Hey, btw, I know I came to your site when my picture icon was new and said something about "Audrey"--that's b/c the picture I'm using as an icon is of the lovely and pensive Audrey Hepburn! I am Linda-- *grin*

Charlie said...

For those of you looking for the author, the name is George Lakoff. He is a linguist academician and showed up at the very end of the 2004 campaign season (wish he'd shown up sooner!)

Having attended the Live Earth "party for the planet" with this group in Houston was great. I certainly hope we all have the opportunity to continue our conversations and do some political work in our geographic area.

In her own Voice said...

Sorry, Charlie--
I'll make that correction (and there is a link in the post to the Rockridge Inst. site where George Lakoff's name is spelled correctly!

Glad you found the blog!

yours truly said...

Oh gosh, Linda! Apologies! Though Audrey is a very nice name, too. You do seem much more like a Linda. ;)

True, I do try my best to straddle the fence and watch. I admit it is more difficult as of late. Please don't liken this to indifference or apathy,though, as that's certainly not the case, but rather an understanding that there is only so much that can be done on the level of action.

Know that I am speaking more from a spiritual perspective, and the work that must be done from a personal, internal place. These days, I'm more concerned with cutting away the roots rather than hacking at the limbs. Although I've done my share of hacking! I know you understand where I'm coming from here.

BTW, I did write a response to Kent on your other blog. I am continually amazed at the differences in perception among us. It reminds me of two children raised in one household and both having absolutely opposing views in regard to experiences of their upbringing!

Have a marvelous day!