What’s Behind the Curtain of the Political Divide in America?
Bill Cottringer

“We divided ourselves among caste, creed, culture and countries but what is undivided remains most valuable: a mere smile and the love.” ~Santosh Kalwar.

Don’t be fooled into believing the divide in American is all about political disparity—Republican’s and their agenda vs. the Democrat’s and theirs. The obvious political divide is just a noisy symptom of a much deeper, core difference between all of humanity. This divide has been building from the very beginning of time and is now becoming too painful and real to ignore. We are divided on the main perspective from which we view life.

Of course, I have always been either a dollar short and day late, or way ahead of my timing with my thinking and writing. For example, my second book, “You Can Have Your Cheese and Eat it Too,” is much more relative today than it was 20 years ago when I wrote it. The same is true about my very first book now out of print—“Re-braining for 2000.” Of course, there is a very good chance I am a little too slow on the draw resurrecting this current article. I hope not though, because the true nature of this divide is too much in the forefront of my mind and passion.

There is a fundamental difference between people. This difference is the prime perspective, which a mixture of their internal free will and external social conditioning has lead them to believe is true about what they can and should control in their lives vs. what they can’t control. Some people lean towards using an optimistic, hopeful and positive attitude in navigating the minefields in life, while others lean towards using a pessimistic, fearful and negative attitude towards the events that happen in reality. The trouble begins when we assign judgment about which perspective is better than the other.

Personally, I have adopted a more realistic version of optimism, always being prepared with a Plan B or C in my back pocket, just in case Murphy’s Law turns out to be more true than not. So far it has worked out for me and I just hope I made the right choice as to which side of the divide to be on. I may have an initial sense of success or failure by the first wave of reactions to this article. But, then again I may be ahead or behind the curve on this important insight.

The trouble with beliefs is not in their innate truth of fiction, but rather how we can convince ourselves of these beliefs being correct from all we can see, hear, read and learn. Even blatantly wrong beliefs, when we believe them to be true long enough, become virtually imperious to unbelieving despite the compelling evidence of disproof. Remember, the belief in the world being flat lingered for years after ship travel disproved that sacred belief.

Another problem with beliefs is the basic one about what we can control and what we can’t control. Mindfulness research has lead us to two sound conclusions: (a) Social conditioning trumps free will, at least until we become more mindful of what it is in life that we can control, which turns out to be our reactions and opinions about the events that occur, rather than being able to control the actual events themselves. This is the main theme of my latest book, “Reality Repair,” where it turns out that it is not reality that needs repairing, but rather our incorrect and incomplete perceptions of it. (b) There is a very close connection between what we expect and anticipate and the actual outcome that occurs. Increasing mindfulness takes us closer to that nexus to realize the truth of what we can and cannot control—our reactions to the things that happen, rather than the actual things themselves.

I do not have a satisfying resolution to this harsh divide that is currently controlling us and holding us hostage from being our best selves, as united rather than divided, but I do have a suggestion worth considering. Our chosen side on this divide is pretty well cemented in solidly for most of us, to be able to step out of. But, I truly believe that if we would consider taking our chosen side as provisional, rather than so seriously as in do or die, we just might open the door to the only possible reconciliation of our yang and yin polar opposites—the three C’s of Cooperation, Compromise and Collaboration. After all, united we stand and divided we fall. Maybe this is all a test for our best selves to emerge.

In closing, I think my silent mentor, Alan Watts, was way ahead of his time with his best book—“The Wisdom of Insecurity.” Here the Episcopalian Priest/Buddhist Monk/ Berkley Philosopher, bravely proposed, that all polar opposites were just different sides to the same coin and that all beliefs on one side of the coin or the other, are just security blankets that hide the real security of letting them all go to discover the wisdom of insecurity.

But at the end of the day, the best and shortest sermon I ever heard was simply this—the only thing that matters in life is which side of anything you chose to be on. Live your life around your chosen side and if it works for you and doesn’t hurt others in the process, then keep on using it. If not, think about why you need to keep believing in something that doesn’t get you where you really want to be in life. Another word for this is enlightenment.

“There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child.” ~Frank A. Clark.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Cascade Security Companies, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or ckuretdoc.comcast.net.