WORDS: 1,754 — No, I’m not talking only about the contemporary drifting of society away from religious faith, although that definitively is part of it. Perhaps I am suggesting that besides our divisive faith in government and its institutions there’s an observable decline in faith in ourselves.. as individuals, but far mostly with each other… and humanity in general. So, if that’s true then now what?
In an earlier post I talked about America being in a real mess all around these days. We all can pretty much acknowledge that with little debate. I also think we can all provide our own individual summations as to how we Americans got here (that’s why we blog), but the greater question perhaps is.. How do we get out of this national funk? America is not the only place in the world where this is bouncing around the population, but our version of it is distinctively American. Our “freedoms and open society” becomes the centerpiece. We fought for the independence to achieve it on our own, we defend it (even when it doesn’t require being defended), we are always striving to attain it (even though we have it), we constantly point to each other for abusing it, and you’d think no one was happy living within it. Is it the system or is this an “each other” thing? I can be diplomatic and suggest it’s a combination of both.. but I’m not sold on that.
I am reminded of a very popular book some of my older readers might remember that came out in 1967, authored by MD and practicing psychiatrist, Thomas A. Harris. Even today most folks slang-use the title as a comic retort to life in general… “I’m OK, You’re OK”. It was the author’s theory that our overall wellness could be determined through the use of a concept called “transactional analysis”. The book was a NY best seller for two years and it became a reference in popular language of the day. Obviously the inverse implied in that title and also became popular is a kind of social backlash… “I’m ok, you’re not” as a bit of an acceptance that we can accept our differences and not necessarily be happy about it. If I can apply that measure to how we seem to be feeling today I would pretty much call it… “I’m ok, but you’re pretty fucked up”… seeming to imply that your feelings, opinions, ideas, are way beyond an acceptable difference from mine, but reflect a complete alienation of a common sense thought process brought about by a complete lack of intellect, or greater ulterior motive to infringe on me personally, for personal gain, power, or profit.
What’s This Transactional Analysis (TA) Thing Anyway?
I’m “sorry” you asked. Well… sorry because I’m gonna dump on you some psycho-babble theory stuff that can get pretty boring to the uncaring among us. I’m a non-professional amateurish wonk in this stuff from past academia, but I’ll TRY and be brief to set the context. I will pull excepts from a blog post by a young lady named Natali Marad (HERE if you wish far greater detail) who explains it very well.
Transactional Analysis (TA) is a psychological theory, developed by Eric Berne in the 1960s, that helps explain why we think, act and feel the way we do. TA claims that we can better understand ourselves by analyzing our transactions with the people closest to us. Transaction = conversation/interaction between two people.
TA is based on 3 principles:
- We all have three ‘ego states’ (Parent, Adult, and Child)
- We all have transactions(with other people, or internally with ourselves)
- We all (unconsciously) activate our ego states in our transactions, which can lead to conflict, negative emotions, pain, etc.
Basically, transactional analysis is about identifying which ego states are present in your transactions so that you can become more conscious of your thoughts and behaviors, and ultimately have better, more constructive transactions with the people closest to you. Ok… if you’re still awake and following me here…. Natali goes on to say………..
These ego states are being activated all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not:
Parent (rooted in the past) — Contains the attitudes, feelings, and behavior incorporated from our parents (or any primary caregiver). It involves responding as one of our parents would have: saying what they would have said, feeling what they would have felt, behaving how they would have behaved.
- nurturing parent-caring, loving, helping
- controlling parent-criticizing, reprimanding, censoring, punishing, etc.
Adult (rooted in the present) — Our ability to think and act based on what’s happening in the here and now. Think of transactions you have with colleagues or acquaintances. These are usually pretty straightforward, without a lot of emotional triggers.
- A good way to know if your Adult ego state is activated is to examine whether your questions/comments are fueled by compassion and curiosity, or the desire to blame, criticize or prove a point.
Child (rooted in the past) — Contains the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we experienced as a child.
- natural child: curious, creative, open, loving
- adaptive child: guilty, afraid, depressed, anxious, envious, prideful, trying to please everyone…you get the picture.
If you are astute to pull out of all this so far that TA does not seem to take into consideration of our acquired behavior/dispositions as a result of “not learned” mechanisms, you’d be correct. In other words, the “nature vs nurture” application. That there’s a genetic context at play as well.
What’s All This Mean To What We Are Talking About In This Post Regarding Loss Of Faith?
Faith itself, as in how much faith, what we chose to have faith in, how we have faith, is all determined through some level of communication from which our faith is gained, denied, or betrayed. Let’s try and apply this on a simpler level.
Bloggers blog in order to be “heard”. It is just one avenue by which we communicate with each other. Humans love to socialize as it helps us to survive collectively and also validates our existence individually. Even if we are just blogging about hobbies, family, whatever. Also.. many of us bloggers tend to communicate better in written form and feel more comfy in that venue. Those of us who engage in more opinion-type blogging tend to be subject to a given emotional mood of the moment that you might really see could easily fit into one or more of those TA ego states, that gets triggered within us to write. Those triggers are anything we see or experience in life that inspires words to explain it or comment about it. On one day we we see something on the news that inspires something within us maybe more.. “parental”. We may want to advise, counsel, nurture.. or even be a verbal disciplinarian on a given subject. A week later we read in a magazine an article that reminds of of a time past when we were younger, the world far less complex where we could identify with a given fear, impulse of the moment, carrying an innocence and being wonderfully ignorant of any consequences. Generally speaking, we revert more toward our existing role as the “adult” who presides over judgmentals, defining a cynicism from acquired life experience, assessing risk, pushing a logic and use of a common sense to deal with the reality of now.
Then There’s The Loss Of Faith In Government, It’s Institutions, And The Constitution
This is the entire essence of Trump Republicanism and the current Conservative movement.. well, up to the Constitution. Although, as I’ve mentioned in other venues, we all proclaim we honor and defend the Constitution, but it seems fewer of us have any actual faith in it’s institutions and application of justice. Everyone is a patriot to “freedom”… but as to abiding by the precepts of the Constitution both sides do a lot of finger pointing as to their own interpretations and levels of abuse. That popular word “shredding”… what we accuse “the other” in doing.. shredding the Constitution… when we don’t like what they are doing…. is based on “OUR” interpretation of the document.
So what’s the point?
As it pertains to our government and the institutions it’s very likely we can point a finger to a post-World War II trend of government policy slipups, intel misadventures, political hanky-panky, and secret coverups. Pretty much each administration has had such occurrences regardless of political party. It will take literally generations of trustworthy government to get past all that doubt. Oddly.. common sense suggests that government excesses are going to continue in one form or another.. and not all of it due to overt corruption. Bad policy decisions fall in that mix as well. Given Congress is charged with oversight, Congress should develop improved techniques.
As for loss of faith in the Constitution.. personally, I think that starts in our schools. We need to have a greater emphasis on civics and social studies.. and history. Let’s also introduce critical thinking skills in that mix. Far too many people have little concept of how our Constitution works. This has been proven by all the whacky conspiracy theories and willingness to accept doubt in our system based on social media alone.
In our relationships that make up our individual perceptions of who and what we chose to have faith in, the entire process is nothing but communication between each other. Inside that communication we do very often show our personalities as they relate to our shifting ego moods. But we also form our faith from those same egos we receive from listening to others. For sure our TA egos may clash, or complement, as we communicate. Now, I am not suggesting that all this TA stuff is something to devote time and effort to explore in order to solve our national divide. There are a number of other theoretical formulas as well. But I present all this simply to illustrate what seems to me to be a breakdown of faith in each other is a matter of a lack of communication because both sides.. or ALL sides… are making so much noise inside their own echo chambers, within their own herds of like-mindedness, that no one is hearing outside the noise of their own herd. To borrow an old saying, sometimes the herd can offer the safest environment for survival, but your own herd can also trample you if you’re not careful.