Created March 18, 2022
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Today I gathered by Zoom with a few lifelong friends. One of them a man I’ve always admired and have learned a lot from about the advertising and media business. He’s as much a genius as ever and as much of a realist. And, whereas I’ve almost always been an optimist, he’s still a pessimist.
Today my mentor (I’ve been lucky to have many) argued persuasively about the end approaching. The quality of our leaders willing to put up with being endlessly mocked and slandered has fallen precipitously. Both our political parties taken over by their most radical activists, the parties locked into such hatred for each other as is hard to imagine ever going away. The leaders of big companies hypnotized, like Putin, by their own worldview, and seemingly unwilling to study the relevant facts and the numbers deeply themselves. Everyone below the top afraid to speak up because someone with greater power might be offended by something.
My friend sums up the problem as The Age of Me, which he perceives came in about a half century ago, replacing The Age of We. Now everyone is so self-focused it’s as if their IQs have been effectively factored way down.
Ahead he sees revolutions, a total breakdown in civilization, only a minority living through it and rebuilding. And then the cycle possibly repeating itself, first rebuilding, and then hubris setting in, and it all falling apart again.
I agreed that we have had a mental illness pandemic for a long time and that the only pragmatic cure for it is for each of us pull himself and herself up by carefully watching and clarifying one’s own thinking. I added that our ability to communicate with one another also allows us to help each other in this process.
My mind flashes back to when I was about five. I always listened to my parents’ conversations and stopped them to ask what was meant by certain phrases. They were very patient and always answered. I remember asking what they meant by “Life Imitates Art”. My father explained that it works both ways, art imitates life (he pointed to one of my mother’s realistic paintings), and life imitates art, people identify with characters in plays and learn from their experiences vicariously.
So, from very early on I was always aware that perceptions make reality, fiction becomes fact as fact becomes fiction. “Thinking makes it so,” as Shakespeare put it.
In Mind Magic I wrote that we tend to perceive what we expect to perceive.
In Connectedness I pointed out that foremost modern quantum physicist John Wheeler theorized that we co-create reality. Jane Roberts’ Seth book series reframed this ancient idea for modern minds in the 1970s. Many people first heard this idea from The Secret, whose Law of Attraction echoes the concept of Karma. People have been considering such out of box yet logical ideas for at least 10,000 years.
All of this is relevant to our moral imperative for the existential threat of today. Regardless of how dire things look right now, it only makes things worse to dwell on problem definition, one must build into one’s own mental reflexes the immediate switch to solution orientation, which presumes hope and not hopelessness. As songwriter and playwright Stan Satlin said on the Zoom today, “We can’t accept defeat.” Every time our mind turns back to concern we must rechannel it into positive next steps we can take that will help even if only in a very small way, help ourselves, our loved ones, everyone and anyone.
Pagliacci knew that a clown’s role was to laugh and make people laugh, even if on the inside he was crying. Calm, patient, empathetic, we can help people creatively clarify their options and optimize their decisions for the closest thing available to a win/win outcome. The more of us take on this attitude and role, the faster we will recover from the brink.
Don’t be attached to success. Whether we collectively pull out of the nosedive is not the point. Another thing my father taught me when I was five was “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, what matters is how you play the game.”
What are the odds against us? It all depends on how we play it. If we tone down the rhetoric and discuss calmly and soberly, the odds in our favor are excellent. If we continue the current raucous and insane behavior, we have to pray for divine intervention, it becomes our best hope.
Best to all,