A Bleeding Heart's Guide to Positive Change

Bleeding Heart is my default setting. 

Combined definitions of bleeding heart: dangerously soft-hearted; showing extravagant sympathy for an object of alleged persecution; giving in to emotions quickly

I'm not putting myself down. I love my heart as-is. It is my greatest strength and also my biggest vulnerability. It doesn't always serve me well. Sometimes I work to override it and break things down logically, calculating risks and studying facts. Ideally, I balance out the two naturally and act from that place. 

Right now that balance is helping me shape an action plan for life. It's helping me reconcile the stark differences between my philosophy and others. My job is to honor that part of myself and still be a responsible citizen.

Instead of crying uncontrollably or kicking down the Trump signs that people put in their yards (after the election no less), I retreated to the land of cold hard facts. Reasoning is my only tool.

I read a fantastic article that helped me understand people who voted for Trump. I enjoyed it because the social psychologist interviewed did not use derogatory labels. He studied facts and communicated the statistics. (A win for math and science and a helpful article.)

Jonathan Haidt says this:

Exactly, that’s right. I’m a fan of the political scientist Karen Stenner, who divides the groups on the right into three: The laissez-faire conservatives or libertarians who believe in maximum freedom, including economic freedom and small governance; the Burkean conservatives, who fear chaos, disruption, and disorder — these are many of the conservative intellectuals who have largely opposed Trump.

And then there are the authoritarians, who are people who are not necessarily racist but have a strong sense of moral order, and when they perceive that things are coming apart and that there’s a decrease in moral order, they become racist — hostile to alien groups including blacks, gay people, Mexicans, etc. This is the core audience that Trump has spoken to.

That’s not to say that most people who voted for him are authoritarians, but I think this is the core group that provides the passion that got him through the primaries.

Since this was the second mention of authoritarians supporting Trump in my world in the same week, I had a visceral reaction. I felt the adrenaline surge and wash over my extremities. My mind said, "Whoa, we don't need to flee or fight." My body said, "Really!? Because authoritarian is a super scary word."

When I reread the words, I noticed a HUGE commonality. Most of those people feared the world was falling apart, just as I feel now. Who has the right to keep their world? 

The answer is none of us. The liberals were slapped down. We are tripping over our own bleeding hearts trying to figure out why there's so much hate. 

If I've learned anything in my life, it's this: When people act out of fear, they're making decisions from a compressed, dark, and limiting headspace. Their actions scream, "Protect me and my own. Dehumanize the other. Might makes right. Force."

Two ways we can combat that mentality in ourselves and others:

1.     Education 

I don't just mean math and science. Those are essential, but I'm talking about the case for a liberal arts education available to everyone because it makes GOOD HUMAN BEINGS. Liberal Arts students have a broad knowledge of history and the inevitable cycles in societies. They can make thoughtful decisions.

One cannot, of course, force people to learn, but if it's financially out of reach for the demographic that is leaning toward authoritarianism, we're done. You can't argue with authoritarian. That's kinda the point.

We can offer people a different kind of power. Education is power. It greases the social wheels. It removes barriers to jobs, mental healthcare, and everything a person needs to be whole.

Power over Force.

2.     Belief in the Growth Mindset

Holding the belief that our brains can heal themselves and learn how to do better will protect our hearts from bleeding out. 

This is me being the change I want to see:

Good Things About Trump Being 
President-Elect So Far

  • It's a chance for any citizen to dig into how our election process works and question whether it's still viable.

  • Those who felt there was no longer a need for feminism or the Civil Rights Act may be jolted into a new awareness.

  • President-Elect Trump is clearly being educated. With new information he has changed his rhetoric when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, prosecuting Hillary Clinton, climate change, and other issues. 

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