The Siege Mentality Problem – by David Brooks – NYT

“Why are so many conservative evangelicals in Alabama still supporting Roy Moore? For that matter, why have so many evangelicals around the country spent the past two years embracing Donald Trump?

I just took part in a compelling conversation on this subject at the Faith Angle Forum, founded by the late Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and came away with one core explanation: the siege mentality. In fact, I’d say the siege mentality explains most of the dysfunctional group behavior these days, on left and right.

You see the siege mentality not just among evangelical Christians but also among the campus social justice warriors and the gun lobbyists, in North Korea and Iran, and in the populist movements across Europe.

The siege mentality starts with a sense of collective victimhood. It’s not just that our group has opponents. The whole “culture” or the whole world is irredeemably hostile.”

This is an imortant piece by David Brooks, and it rings true. There are issues to work through, as presented by the top comment, which I also endorsed, even though I basically agree with Brooks’ main premise. What is frightening, is that as a hard working environmentalist, terrified by climate change and overpopulation, I fit the bill of being in a member of group that has a siege mentality.

Ed in Seattle

Seattle, WA 1 day ago

Mr. Brooks thinks that America’s leaders should have worked out an accommodation with evangelicals over gay marriage. That’s a typical Brooks position – find a way to spread the blame over both sides. But he ducks the question of what kind of accommodation might be possible. Because there is no possible accommodation.

The evangelicals already have freedom of religion in their houses of worship. The government isn’t asking their churches to perform gay marriages. Would the accommodation have been, allow restaurants to deny service to gay couples? Allow hotels get to deny rooms to gay couples?

The fact is, religious conservatives are being asked to live in a society that recognizes the rights of people whose beliefs are different than their beliefs. Compromising on that basic principle not only sanctions bigotry, it sacrifices our core values of liberty and freedom for people of all faiths.

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Can People Change After Middle Age? – by David Brooks – NYT

“Shreveport saw a lot of ugliness during the civil rights era. But it is fortunate today to have Community Renewal, one of the nation’s most impressive community-building groups. Community Renewal builds settlement houses for kids in crime-ridden communities. It sponsors over 1,500 Haven Houses in neighborhoods rich and poor where volunteers sponsor activities and build relationships. It’s one of the most successfully integrated organizations I’ve seen.

Mike pulled out of his dental practice at age 49 and works at Community Renewal, often without pay. Bo heard about the organization from a member of his breakfast group and is now a volunteer and donor. When I sat with Bo and Mike after the staff and volunteer meeting on Monday, three things struck me, which often strike me about people who have transformed their lives for the final lap.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Bravo David Brooks.
Looking at the negative comments, the left wing “progressive” fanatics can’t forgive you for coming from a respectable GOP past, but they are historical amnesiacs. They forget, or never knew, that just 50 years ago, it was the GOP that was the party of civil rights, and the Democrats were the party of racism and jim crow. One of the founders of the Republican Party was Abraham Lincoln.

A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump’s Personality – By Dan P. McAdams – The Atlantic

Kathleen Schomaker has been trying to get me to read this McAdams article for months. It is very helpful, but won’t make anyone feel better about having a great narcissist, extrovert, disagreeable bully for a president. She wrote:

“This article profiles DT on multiple dimensions:

1) his personal disposition, including where he is on these 5 dimensions: extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeablenes, and openness;
2) his mental habits;
3) his motivations;
4) his self-conception;

The author, Dan McAdams is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University–more on his work profile at:
KS”
From the article:

“Research shows that people low in agreeableness are typically viewed as untrustworthy. Dishonesty and deceit brought down Nixon and damaged the institution of the presidency. It is generally believed today that all politicians lie, or at least dissemble, but Trump appears extreme in this regard. Assessing the truthfulness of the 2016 candidates’ campaign statements, PolitiFact recently calculated that only 2 percent of the claims made by Trump are true, 7 percent are mostly true, 15 percent are half true, 15 percent are mostly false, 42 percent are false, and 18 percent are “pants on fire.” Adding up the last three numbers (from mostly false to flagrantly so), Trump scores 75 percent. The corresponding figures for Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, respectively, are 66, 32, 31, and 29 percent.

In sum, Donald Trump’s basic personality traits suggest a presidency that could be highly combustible. One possible yield is an energetic, activist president who has a less than cordial relationship with the truth. He could be a daring and ruthlessly aggressive decision maker who desperately desires to create the strongest, tallest, shiniest, and most awesome result—and who never thinks twice about the collateral damage he will leave behind. Tough. Bellicose. Threatening. Explosive.”

Source: A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump’s Personality – The Atlantic

Tips for handling a toxic co-worker (and how to avoid becoming one) – The New York Times

“This article is part of a series aimed at helping you navigate life’s opportunities and challenges. What else should we write about? Contact us: smarterliving@nytimes.com.

For many Americans, navigating the modern workplace can be like traversing a minefield of time-crunched, stressed-out colleagues who prefer to keep one another at a safe distance rather than form bonds.That’s tricky enough, but what happens when you come across someone who makes your workday a living hell? The subject of handling toxic co-workers is a popular one on workplace-focused websites and discussion boards, mostly because it’s a tricky subject, and most of us still have to coexist peacefully.

Jean Fitzpatrick and Rachel Sussman, two New York City-based relationship therapists, offered a few tips for dealing with a tough working relationship.

Identify the problemA toxic work relationship can leave a lasting impression, so it’s important to figure out what’s bothering you, Ms. Sussman said.There are many types of uncomfortable work relationships, but there are a few types of bad behavior that can send up red flags: Beware the colleague who talks badly about other people, or the person who complains nonstop. The person who needs to be given credit for everything — or shuts you out of meetings — can also be a bad sign.”

Source: Tips for handling a toxic co-worker (and how to avoid becoming one) – The New York Times

Why I Identify as Mammal – by Randy Laist, The New York Times

“In a world of conscious beings, identity matters. Self-perception plays a vital role in behavior, so the question of how human beings think about themselves in relation to the world is more than simply one of semantics; ways of seeing lead, directly and indirectly, to ways of acting.Given all that, I choose to identify as mammal.And this is my reason: Our relationship to the natural world, which is changing in such dramatic ways, is in desperate need of revision. Human exceptionalism — expressed in our treatment, use and abuse of other animals, and in the damage we do to the natural environment — has paved the way for enormous harm. It seems clear, then, that identifying exclusively as human has its pitfalls.”

Source: Why I Identify as Mammal – The New York Times