Hindley: We all need to develop more temperance
I awoke about 5 a.m. the day after the attack on the Capitol Building. I rarely dream, let alone awake in the middle of the night.
I was surprised, because I had been watching the same thing happen in cities all around the country for the latter half of the prior year.
The looting of our cities and the attack on our nation's capital are both a study in sociological theory. These "change through violence" motifs are justified by their proponents — all in the cause of liberty and justice. At least, that is what both sides tell themselves in our psyche's constant need to justify behavior.
Examining these, we see the powerful social forces of bystander effect and confirmation bias, as well as the multitude of thinking errors necessary to create and even sustain such violence such as justification, blaming, overgeneralization, catastrophizing, labeling and more. The list is exhaustive, but unfortunately, so is the human tendency and ability to use them.
In a recent article in Psychology Today titled "10 Thinking Errors That Will Crush Your Mental Strength," author Amy Morin states, "Mental strength requires a three-pronged approach — managing our thoughts, regulating our emotions, and behaving productively despite our circumstances."
If we examine these examples, we will clearly see the failure of this in the minds and lives of those involved. Simply put, their thoughts were not managed, their emotions were not regulated, and their behavior was not productive.
The article strikes upon a concept that has been well known in the criminal justice field for years as the understanding of anti-social thinking patterns tell us that thinking leads to emotions and emotions lead to behavior. To change behavior, thinking (which establishes our values) must be changed first.
To be sure, criminals have a more entrenched pathology when it comes to maladaptive thinking patterns, but make no mistake, we are all strongly prone, and skillfully adept, at using them too. Causing further complication is our desire to align ourselves with like-minded individuals, where group think and confirmation bias protects us from introspection and thought management.
What kind of pathology exists for an individual to kill or even want to kill, somebody you do not know and who is innocent of any harm against you personally as we saw in both situations? To do so requires blaming and overgeneralization (police are evil, the establishment is corrupt) to justification (hurting them will lead to justice) to overgeneralization (Democrats are trying to steal the election) and catastrophizing (we will be a socialist country if Trump loses). These strengthen the pathology, or thinking, of an individual for the future, and thus, the cycle continues.
As a practitioner of warrior arts, I was always fascinated by the culture of warrior history. Going back centuries, and why not, Japanese warriors lived by the seven levels of bushido. They were right action, courage, benevolence, politeness, truthfulness, honor and loyalty. I could wax philosophical on many of these, but for brevity's sake, I will not.
See anything missing here in these events?
To mirror this idea, I wrote something titled the "Warrior Manifesto" years ago. It goes through the makeup of the modern-day warrior and there are two specific criteria that bear mentioning here:
The warrior is patient. They know that to act impulsively often denies the most logical and best solution. They further understand that to act too hastily or to rush headlong in, often puts outcomes at the mercy of emotion and these are death to the warrior and creates variables they cannot hope to control.
The warrior is even-tempered. It should be difficult to rile or anger the warrior as these emotions introduce a whole set of problems for them. This calmness inside the storm allows the warrior to be truly mindful of his surroundings, his situation, and his enemy. They know that excessive anger or bitterness hurts a warriors' empathy and compassion which are the most sought of warrior traits.
Practically speaking, this means that we as individuals must practice the ability to be aware of ourselves inwardly first. We must strive to be the calm in the storm, to notice a red flag when we become too aroused or angry and ask what, or who, is exactly causing it. We need to develop a calmness inside that then leads to greater awareness outside.
In other words, we must learn to stop, breath, think and consider.
The warrior does not allow themselves to be unduly influenced by others because this is the truest loss of power. We can all be warriors, and frankly, we need to be.
These traits are not intuitive or, frankly, part of our nature, even to those well learned in the warrior traditions. Please be encouraged to embrace these ideas and let the warrior traditions motivate you to these ends because in the end, this is about personal accountability. These abilities, which take practice, can guard our hearts and our minds from perversion or undue influence.
This perspective is not a right or left or a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an issue of human nature and fighting the quite necessary battle we need to wage within ourselves first before we fight it in others. Only then can you be a true catalyst for change in the world.
Now if I can just get some sleep, free from those dreams…
Jeff Hindley is a Yamhill County Department of Community Justice supervisor and a former candidate for the Washington County Board of Commissioners. He lives in Aloha.
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