Observations of an Overthinker

I never thought I’d make it…

I never thought I’d make it to 30.
I never thought I’d make it to 40.

I never thought I’d make it to 50. Yet here I find myself, well and inspired for what is to come.

When I was growing up there were only a few networks and newscasters on television. I remember seeing my parents watching the events of the day unfold and they usually trusted them as stated. Some things changed over time and they learned to endure that too. (With a bit more grace, I might add.) Just like everything else in life, we evolve. Then the internet came along and changed everything. It has ruined my career twice now. Once with music ownership and distribution, and once with live performance due to COVID-19 (via misinformation). It has placed children in perpetual beauty contests, turned fireside folklore into mainstream legislation, given international voice to loner loyalist groups, and made way to governance by conspiracy chaos to name a few. The spread of disinformation on the internet is the single greatest threat to democracy. Yet, impoverished and oppressed people of the world rely on it to survive. For that reason, alone, we are better off living with it. Being informed, however difficult it may be at times, and having the ability to help others makes it all worthwhile. But it should come with a warning label (and life advice): If you don’t seek out the good, the bad will find you.

I have never really felt like I fit in anywhere but have always made anywhere I am my home. I have also always thought overt patriotism is strange. I had nothing to do with being born in America nor do I have anything to do with my Russian, Austrian, Scottish, English, and Mexican ancestry. The truth is, like everyone else, I just arrived. The older I got the more ideals were forced upon me through school, religion, friend groups and culture, which caused me to question everything even more. After decades of self-reflection, I still care more about people than politics; policy over patriotism, rationalism over nationalism, inclusion over exclusion, rights over fights, and equality over inequality. There are three major types of moral capital in this world: saying you care about others, choosing to include others, and personally sacrificing to serve others. May we all consider these a bit more.

I had a conversation a few days ago with a lovely soul who is fed up with our divisiveness and is discouraged by our country. I understand. I cautioned her we must want for a more equitable union. For each other, (for her children) and for our future. I admit Americans are most likely not going to agree on all policy and that is ok. It is what makes the hope of being ‘united’ worthwhile. But I am certain if we don’t start valuing our diversity we are going to fail. Historically, in countries that don’t take care of their people, their people end up taking care of their country.

I am very concerned about the conspiracy cancer in America. Unlike most of my liberal friends, I don’t think the answer is ridiculing people who choose to believe in them. I make a genuine effort to not call anyone names although I feel them brewing inside me often and trust me, they want out. I am certain the same feelings exist within the believer community. So what do we do? We listen. We talk. And we try to find common ground.

“Conspiracy theories appeal to people whose key psychological needs are unmet. Believers crave knowledge, desire safety, and security, and need to maintain positive self-esteem. During times of crisis and when difficult decisions need to be made, these psychological needs are particularly threatened, and people are looking for ways to cope with the challenges they face.” -Professor Karen Douglas

If I have any wisdom to impart at 50, which I question daily, it is no matter what you believe, before you profess it to someone else, try to imagine their lived experiences first. Try to imagine your thoughts as questions before you frame them as answers. And try to remember sharing a country with people with opposing views is what makes us great. Most things we face can and should be reconciled together. More importantly, for a person to truly change, they must feel the change is theirs, that they chose it and they control it. Otherwise, it loses all its effect.

“Sometimes it’s so much easier to look outside of ourselves—to find explanations for our own pain, our own failures, our own disappointments rather than looking inward and taking responsibility for our actions. It would be so much easier if luck, or God, or genetics, or some unthinkable sin or magical spell just made us who we are—it would be easier, wouldn’t it? Easier than figuring out who we are on our own and that in fact, we can be many things: rageful and kind, strong and weak, terrified and sad, bereft but not afraid to go forward.“ – Derek Cianfrance, I Know This Much Is True
© Tanzer Words