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David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is © 2016 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org. Previous issues of “David’s Desk” are available here. You can also buy a volume of twelve of David’s Desk essays, entitled The Flame of Incarnation.
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David’s Desk #110 – Brexit
DAVID’S DESK #110 – BREXIT
It’s not often that one can say unequivocally that one is in the middle of a truly historic event. But with “Brexit,” the UK’s vote to sever its relationship with the European Union, such a moment is upon us. The effects are reverberating around the globe financially, politically, and socially, and it will be sometime, perhaps years, before the full consequences have played themselves out.
One striking aspect of this event, though, is that after the vote, the number one trending question on Google was “What will happen if the UK leaves the EU?” It’s as if people decided to vote to leave and then, having done so, tried to find out what the consequences will be. It suggests the degree to which emotions made the decision, not the mind. This has been anecdotally confirmed by the rising call among those who voted to leave the EU—close to 4 million people by this point—to redo the referendum and have another vote. As one commentator put it, in the aftermath of Brexit, there was buyer’s remorse.
I have no crystal ball to let me know whether or not Brexit will be a good thing; that will depend on all the people involved. Certainly, it will create uncertainty for some time to come until the “divorce” details are worked out. Also still to be determined is whether this separation will inspire other EU countries unhappy with Brussels to do the same, leading to the unraveling of the European Union itself. If this happened, it would put an end to a great human experiment in the integration and cooperation of former rivals and enemies underway since the Second World War.
What interests me here is the role of emotions in decision-making. I’m fully aware that sometimes our feelings, the insights of our heart, can be a truer guide to what we should do than all the mental deliberations we can make. But emotions tend to see the world in broad strokes, lacking the discernment and finer discrimination which our mind can bring to bear.
We live in an emotion-saturated world thanks to media of all kind, including social networks. Appeals are constantly being made to our feelings, pulling us in this direction or the other. There is often little mental analysis or information in these appeals, only images and words designed to trigger emotion, not thought. For instance, much of the Brexit vote was driven by sensationalized headlines and stories in the British tabloids calculated to raise fear and anger.
We need both mind and heart acting in partnership to make the best decisions. But how can we achieve this happy balance? We can’t avoid experiencing all the appeals to our emotions; they are part of everyday life in a media age. And currently, it’s even more prevalent here in the United States where we are in the midst of political campaigns which are cleverly designed to manipulate our emotions in the name of one Party or one candidate or another.
For me, a first step is to realize that I am being subjected to emotional pressures, whether through advertising, politics, or other means. I need to realize that not all information is equal, and even compelling arguments may really have no basis in facts, only in opinions.
I need to be willing to do some research. One side of an argument is saying one thing, but what is the other side saying? What facts do either side have? How strident are the arguments? How calmly reasoned? Is room being created for me to question or hold a divergent perspective, or does the emotional appeal insist on my unquestioning acceptance and allegiance? How exaggerated or truthful are the claims?
I look to see how apocalyptic the argument may be. That is, am I being told that unless I agree, the “world will end” or some other dire consequence will unfold, that this is my “last chance” to save everything? Urgency makes it more likely we’ll not take the time to think things through but instead feel pressured to act, to vote, to do something.
The problem is not that there is an appeal to the emotions but that the appeal is limited to certain emotions. Are the emotions being invoked those of anger, fear, suspicion, and division, or are they emotions of courage, calm, compassion? What part of me is the appeal designed to reach, the fearful me or the visionary me that can be inspired with courage and possibility. Is it the me that can feel connected with others or the me that sees the world in terms of Us and Them?
As much as possible, I should investigate the consequences of a particular decision. My emotions may paint a rosy picture of possibility and then, once the choice is made, discover that the reality is very different. This seems to be what has happened with many in the Brexit vote.
I’m sure you have your own list of ways of bringing your mind together with your heart in collaboration. The issue is that we live in a time when emotions are running high. The challenge is not to diminish our emotional side but learn how to bring our feelings into cooperation with our mental and spiritual natures. It may not be as much fun, but it will result in much better decisions for our future.
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2016 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org. Previous issues of “David’s Desk” are posted on www.lorian.org.
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