Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Betrayal of Our Trust

Lakoff provides his most succinct interview yet.
One of the major barriers to getting our message out lies in this sentence:
    It's a hard message to get across because people don't want to think that the head of their family or the head of their nation is betraying their trust.

Children who grow up in authoritarian family systems, meaning most of us, get through it by developing a certain set of beliefs. The most basic hidden belief is that the child, not the parent, is to blame for his or her woes ("There must be something wrong with me for them to treat me this way" or "If I try hard enough, maybe they'll accept me"). This mistaken sense of responsibility effectively exonerates the parents but leaves the child to carries this belief system through adulthood. A caveat is that these children refuse to budge in these beliefs. Doing so would derail an entire worldview, itself too devastating to deal with. Only when one is already in so much pain, can there be allowance for changes. 12-steppers call this hitting an emotional bottom.

One of the things that these children learn is to learn to stop thinking and to not challenge their parents. For example, they often do not question authority figures who often demand to do what they say, not what they do. This is carried through adulthood, continuing on into relationships, work systems and their own family systems, to perpetuate this into the next generation.

It would be anathema for most people to question their beliefs, especially about family. It would mean changing one's entire world view. And maybe it would mean delving into the dark side of one's childhood and family. For a child to feel the pain of invalidation is too much. Those feelings linger as the child grows to adulthood.

And so, we have now these authority figures in politics who say certain things. For those of us who do not question authority figures in politics, we say: well, if it has to be that way, then so it is. Or, well, if it's for our own good, then so be it. This is much preferable to dealing with our own personal demons and pain. This is what the Republicans are banking on.

How does one get over this hump? This is the work of psychotherapy but realistically, everyone can't be in therapy to get this.