OUR POLARIZED THINKING MAKES US DUMB AND DANGEROUS
Am I concerned about the political or social situation in our country? Am I concerned about what happens in Kashmir or on our borders? Am I concerned about what happens to our farmers, women and children?
I do not live in an island… I am a social animal… Of course, I am concerned about everything that happens around me, near and far…
But, as an individual, what can I do about the situation in Syria , North Korea or America? What can I do about the situation in my own country – Delhi, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka or here in Maharashtra?
Late Dr. Stephen Covey, in his famous book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, had introduced the first habit - ‘Be Proactive’. In this chapter, he had drawn our attention to two Circles in our lives: the Circle of our Concern and the Circle of our Influence. For most of us, what happens in America, North Korea, Syria, Kashmir, Karnataka, or Uttar Pradesh – yes, all these issues fall in the Circle of our Concern. We are concerned about these issues… but, we do not have direct influence or power over them. On the other hand, the issues relating to our own physical or mental health, finances, education, character, relationships, children and parents etc – yes, these issues fall within our circle of influence… we have direct influence or power over them… We can do something about them.
Dr. Covey says, that Proactive people focus their energies on issues within their Circle of Influence. The more and more they focus on this Circle, this Circle expands and they become more effective and stronger. On the other hand, he says, that the reactive people focus more on the Circle of their Concern, even though they know, that they cannot do much about those issues. The more and more they focus their energies on this Circle, this Circle expands and the Circle of Influence (Power) shrinks… He reminds us, that these people become more reactive in life – spending their time blaming, criticizing and feeling helpless and victimized.
Every form of polarized thinking – thinking everything in terms black or white, good or bad, either/ or, us or them – is dangerous. It makes us not only dumb but also dangerous. The people who indulge in polarized thinking are reactive… They are easily susceptible to propaganda and negative news… They get easily carried away, become highly biased and opinionated…
The social media – and even the main stream-media – has become the breeding ground for the polarized thinking. We can gauge it from the way we react, blindly comment, forward and share something that we have not scrutinized… and, something over which we have absolutely no control…
Still, we do it!
Pic.: Jatinder Sondhi