Emotion vs. Logic: An American Tale

We humans are locked in an ever growing battle of emotion vs. logic, of instinct vs. calculation. One exacerbated, manipulated and stretched as we work to understand our world’s intricacies and harness technology beyond our means. This battle has many layers: the one within ourselves, another within our communities, and a layer that includes our entire globe.

Nowhere on this planet is this battle currently more stark than within the United States of America. Here, the battle has been portrayed as one where either side wants to win at all cost and banish the “other”. For decades this war has been building, more than likely longer than we all would like to think (or agree) that it has been in existence. This battle has grown to consume every aspect of our lives, nowhere is safe, and it presents in many forms: racially, educationally, politically, etc. Even those who live far from population centers have been forced to choose sides; even those who stood in the “middle ground” for many years are now painted with their team colors, often against their will. This battle can break us, and it’s already happening, but there is a way to stop it.

First, it must be said – We did this to ourselves; no outsider pushed us to these limits. After so many decades of slicing and dicing the populace, pitting us all against each other for multiple reasons, our country has become an environment of confusion and anger where only the zealots feel confident in their ideas. Zealots who work to pick us off one by one to choose our destiny. To date, anyone who has tried to fix it has done little but fail or incite us more.

This constant incitement has caused our populace to grown tired, worried and frustrated; a group desperately in need of mediation, but so raw with their hatred of the “other” (no matter how it is defined) that it seems only war can exhaust them into a truce. But even war will not fix this situation. War would produce a winner, maybe, but with neither side mature enough to create a vision that would bring us peace it would all be for not. Either side, should they win, would only enact more pain on the whole.

Interestingly enough, both sides feel they are the one fighting for “good”. They believe they are activists for their constituents, their brethren, bringing awareness to the plights their population is facing. Both sides believe they know best, yet constantly fall victim to “confirmation bias“. Leaders on each side believe they are fighting for a better life, but in truth, they are fighting for their “way of thought”. More precisely, they are fighting the age old argument of emotion vs. logic, but few even know this is so.

Today, there seems to be only two acceptable ways to deal with emotions in America: one is to allow them to rule you, to succumb to their whims and bleed them everywhere you go; the other is to put them into little structured boxes and feel them as appropriate when appropriate and never a stray one allowed.

Neither of the proposed outcomes are conducive to our well being or longevity as a nation or as a people, but many people will believe that either is the only way to survive. At the end of this explanation I will make sure to share some actual solutions to this problem, but first, lets start out by examining each of these tribes and their outlook on life.

The “Salt of the Earth” Tribe

People from this tribe have their feet planted firmly on the ground. They tend to prefer lots of open space, most of the time have an affinity for nature, and work to keep a connection to Mother Earth. SotE people don’t dislike technology but really only prefer enough of it to add a thin layer of help to their lives. Working with the Earth in multiple ways (ex. getting their hands dirty for pleasure or as a profession) is preferred to sitting at a computer. Intuition is strong within this tribe and they tend to allow their emotions to sit at the surface of their skin. Emotional Intelligence training comes from the rest of their group, interconnectivity helps them to learn “how to act”. Limited structure is necessary to assist this group in honing their emotional intelligence, too much structure stifles their creative nature. Education is looked at in two ways:

  • Basic -knowledge needed to help one fit into the current structure and create a life that achieves a consistent level of contentment.
  • Advanced – intricate information to add to one’s inherent knowledge in a given area. Not learning for learning’s sake but a specific need or want.

SotE people like to gain fulfillment by excelling in the basics – solid home, good family, strong community ties, providing their strengths to help the group succeed, etc. They take pride in what they have created and how well they have succeeded in creating a happy community and family. SotE people do not expect life to be easy, but instead see their path full of little challenges that are worth the struggle due to the lessons they will learn about life. Time moves too quickly for this group and change can be difficult. Change is difficult for a SotE member because of the need to constantly “regression test” their creations (i.e. their lives and communities) to ensure stability. Loyalty grows with each interaction and takes repetition and time. This can be off-putting to both “outsiders” and members that do not easily fit in the tribe’s way of life. Often those who confuse the SotE feel slighted or ostracized, leaving before a new comfort zone can be created. This group will be wary in the beginning, but once proven trustworthy their loyalty is unmatched and they become great advocates on your side through thick and thin.

The Salt of the Earth tribe has been manipulated by cunning members (or non-members) who want to create a “left-behind” mentality or those who tell them something is missing. Their emotions are easy to rise and exacerbate and when they feel they are missing out they grow resentful. Guilt is easy to come by in the SotE tribe. Little pressures them more than their children wanting more than they can provide, especially when comparing themselves to the Air and Sky tribe. They often do not feel many of the excess luxuries of life are necessary, but when the world tells them they are “wrong” or “backwards” for those beliefs the embarrassment creates the anger we see today.

This group now believes that they are being asked to give up their way of life and that no one really understands them. Their feelings are hurt because the Air and Sky people tend to disregard things they cherish, paint them as “black and white”, and see their connection to emotions as “childish”.

The Air and Sky Tribe

This group loves to push limits, to constantly strive for change and looks to technology as an answer to solutions as well as the means to most ends. Where the SotE people look to the past for answers, this group is future bound. They trust scientific discovery, facts, and figures over intuition and often see emotions as a hindrance to achieving their goals. Constantly progressive, never settling for the “now”, they live for the future and are excited for it to happen. Belief in education is strong, and certifications, degrees and letters after one’s name are extremely important to be allowed in the upper echelons of the clan. They believe that we are here to understand the Universe, not only to understand it but to conquer it and rule over it (with a generous hand, of course).

Those who thrive in this society have a high intellect, the ability to dampen their emotions, and a desire to discuss endlessly the deep ideas of the universe. They are great advocates when you convince them of your cause (with a lot of facts!) and often have the connections and drive to take any idea to the top. Family is important, but at times as a means to an end, and chosen family (or brother/sisterhood) is often more important than blood relations. Emotional intelligence is learned from books, calculated to achieve a goal and used to control one’s relationships. Commitment is less solid here, as there is always something else to try, another goal to achieve another thing we COULD do. Time never stops and that works for this group because the present can get boring and stale.

This group has been manipulated by those weakening boundaries and allowing an “anything goes” environment. Bringing unlimited options, distractions, and possibilities this forward-thinking group continues to push all limits trying to find the end of any given path. This is great for those who crave to be at the top, with the most resources, even at the expense of achieving goals that could be destructive to humanity. Manipulators come in the form of people who push the envelope and snub them when they haven’t done everything they COULD whether or not they should.

The Air and Sky tribe believes that due to their achievements and intelligence they should be able to dictate and rule others who are “less evolved”. Pandora’s Box is always opened with little regard of whether or not it may be beneficial. They believe in structure and rules that inform every citizen of how to act and what to do, and because logical people created this structure it must be the most logical setup possible. There is no going back, only moving forward. Air and Sky people’s feelings are are hurt because they do not understand why those less fortunate, those that they fight for, are often still not happy with their solutions. If the dots connect, and the plans make sense and seem fair, why can’t people submit to their ways and just be happy.

So you can see what a mess we have. Two sides that see the world completely different pushed to the extremes by manipulation further exacerbating their differences and driving a wedge between them that may become too difficult to bridge. HOWEVER, towards the beginning I promised some hope to help us move forward and this I will share with you now.

At this point, there may be some of you out there who are confused or even frustrated after reading this analysis because you were neither a full member of the Salt of the Earth tribe or the Air and Sky tribe. You may be thinking ‘I don’t fit fully in either of these groups; this lady must be insane’. If so, I congratulate you because you are already on the way towards helping to solve this problem. Our minds have the ability to hold both of these groups inside at once, but as we are born with a natural capacity towards one or the other we need to activate the will to balance the two.

The Three Minds

In order to bridge the gaps between these two tribes, we first must decide that both sides are necessary. We need to find the positive in each of these ways of thinking. Accept that each has relevance, and each is a bit nuts at times. Neither are better than the other; both have merit and are necessary for a well-balanced relationship with our world, with each other and within.

Only then will we grow curious about the other. Only then will we reach out to understand and by understanding create growth within our own souls. Like Yin and Yang, both are necessary to experience the whole of life, each one loving the other in order to fully understand and thrive.

It takes a bit (or a lot) of humility to move in this direction and humility only comes when one feels safe. In order to feel safe and be able to show vulnerability we must have trust. Trust only comes from believing that the “other” has both side’s best interests at heart or at least in believing that this is possible. Doing this work takes bravery. Please be brave enough to stand with me and take the first step. Seek out others who belong to the tribe that scares you the most. Ask “why?” and then absorb. Work to open the other side of your mind, let it make you feel uncomfortable and question what you feel. See the wool pulled over our eyes, the distractions and manipulations that divide. Reject them often. Become the first stone to roll down the hill. Pave the way for others. It’s worth it, I promise.

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