I am interested in the concept of cognitive dissonance.
It is a very human condition. We don’t practice what we preach. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. I can quite happily hold two conflicting thoughts at once. I am quite capable of feeling supremely confident, whilst simultaneously feeling I am completely insignificant and that nothing I ever do has any worth at all. I have the classic little version of me on each shoulder, one angel, one devil. One imploring me to do the right thing, the other saying “Go on…..Fuck it up…. You know you want to”. I am ashamed to say the latter wins more than it should. There have been moments of total self-sabotage. I’m preaching reasonableness whilst behaving like an unthinking idiot.
I am interested in how sometimes what comes out of our mouths is completely negated by our actions. Our behaviours betray us while we attempt to be the better person, holding the higher ground.
For example: I have no cartilage left to speak of in my left knee. If I lost a couple of stone it would make life easier. I can happily discuss this with anyone over a bacon butty, tea and a packet of hobnobs.
I am indecisive. We are indecisive. But I am disturbed by the fact that the media that surrounds us demands we pick a side. Our politics demands we pick a side.
I’ve just been listening to the brilliant Chain Reaction on BBC Radio 4, Victoria Coren-Mitchell interviewed Sandi Toksvig. Sandi put forward the idea that the architecture of our House of Commons perpetuates the two-party conflict system. She thinks it should become a museum, and a new House of Parliament be built, in the round. I do think that our surroundings affect our behaviour. Conversations should be happening, not arguments. I am definitely an old fashioned socialist…but if Cameron has done one thing for civil rights in this country- equal marriage- then he should be praised for that, and thanked. There are plenty of other things to lambast him for, but that has been a great thing, of which he, and we, should be proud. But it isn’t going to make me vote conservative!
There are so many things of which I am ignorant. There are so many things about which I hold no opinion. I think it’s ok to not know? Surely that’s ok?
I am extremely opinionated about the NHS and our education system. I don’t really know how the situation in Syria got so bad… Except that culpability lies in a tangled mess across the world.
I feel I have a voice in education, albeit a small one, and that I have also made a small difference to a small amount of people. I can vote and protest and petition to protect the NHS. I have absolutely no idea about the other stuff.
I deliberately keep my world small. I cannot cope with the bigger issues. I don’t watch much news. I don’t read a newspaper. I become uselessly over-emotional and totally demoralised by my inability to do anything. So as a self preservation measure, I limit my exposure. Other people are more able to do other things, between us all we do what we can I suppose, in the small sector we each feel able to deal with.
I like the idea of the confusion caused by cognitive dissonance. Out of chaos comes odd connections that lead to the barmy idea that might just work. Hold two opinions at once, until the very last moment when it becomes clear which is right. Until then, juggle, turn from one to the other until you are dizzy, change your mind depending on who you are with, be openly duplicitous and talk for opposing sides until you find one side sounding so ridiculous the decision is made.
One exercise I have used in various educational settings is getting my students (from primary to HE) to argue for the side they disagree with. This can be hilarious as they try to wriggle out from under it, but also very telling, informative, and it encourages empathy.
As I get older (I just had another birthday- 55) I find I am less sure, not more sure. I have no idea how the world manages to keep turning under the weight of such stupidity. And in this stupid world, I am deliberately keeping myself even more stupid.
However, I am quite happy. Most of the time.
(Not sure if this is a good or bad way to exist. I’ll let you know if I come to a decision)