Friday, January 02, 2015

Weird Wally’s Cognitive Dissonance

It’s the day after New Year’s and Wally is still meditating on last year.  For him, it’s been a confusing year.   As a matter of fact it’s been more like total cognitive dissonance and it first started sometime around March of 2012, shortly after the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by an angry white guy, either civilian or law enforcement.   And although he didn’t realize it at the time, it was only the first of many.

“Up to that point,” he posted on a progressive website, “I had no problem with white people and doubted that would ever change.”  But what Wally seldom considered, until very recently, was the fact that a lot of white people have a problem with him.  And it’s not because he does anything to offend them.  They seem to take offense at the very fact that he lives and breathes and is a citizen of these United States.  “Add a black president to that already explosive situation,” he said, “and you get a lot of heads exploding with rage.”

And now that he’s learned so many white people have a problem with him, Wally is realizing that he now has a problem with white people.  And with the exception of longtime friends and some family members, he has noticed that he has avoided most whites and made neither a new white friend nor acquaintance in the past couple of years.   Worse yet, the few he’d met and seemed to click with, he’d started avoiding.  “Things that were important to me weren’t important to them and they didn’t really want to talk about important shit and the many things we had in common were far overshadowed by the things we didn’t.

“I even started avoiding a few good white friends over this and was surprised to find out how many of them believe that if a cop arrested you, you were doing something wrong.  And if he actually shot you, then you were doing something wrong and threatened the cop’s life.  I know that’s bullshit, but how do I explain to someone else that their opinion is wrong if they’ve never experienced what is normal for me and, can’t even conceive of the possibility in the first damn place.”

With local law enforcement killing an unarmed black teenager or young adult on an average of more than once a week and usually getting away with it, Wally also finds himself avoiding the police, both black and white, even more than he avoids most whites whom he doesn’t know, and a few whom he does.  “So how do I communicate with someone who totally discounts my experiences simply because my experience can never happen to him?”

And like most all people, when confronted with cognitive dissonance, Wally is choosing to decrease his stress by totally avoiding these conflicts of dualities.    And although he knows nothing is resolved by his avoidance, he also knows that even cognitive dissonance is impermanent and that it too shall pass.  “Meanwhile,” he said.  “It is what it is.”

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