It’s Been a Dark Day

I was just finishing up my blog post this morning when I saw the news. Trump supporters were massing in front of the Capitol Building. Oh, great, I thought. Here we go. I don’t like to see Trump protesters massing. They are openly angry. They yell. They carry guns. They drive big trucks waving big flags. Overcompensating? Sure. Meant to intimidate? You bet. I worried, because I follow politics. I know how incendiary Trump and his sycophants have been lately.

But we all have the right to protest.

Suddenly the news shifted. The “protesters” (can they be called that now?) had broken into the Capitol Building. I watched in horror, tears in my eyes, as Lisa Desjardins of PBS reported from her hunkered down position behind a barricade while Capitol Police tried to clear the area. I messaged my kids. Are you watching the news in DC? Text messages started popping off like fireflies. My kids, my friends, everyone was horrified.

I continued to watch Lisa Desjardins, who was reporting again as she was evacuated into the basement hallways with senators and representatives. Relief flooded through me when I realized they were safe. But how could this happen? How, in our nation’s capitol, were our public officials not more protected?

Back to the news. The questions began. “Will you still vote to oppose certification?” A senator or representative started blaming the Democrats, if they hadn’t opposed this president… if they hadn’t resisted… we wouldn’t be where we are today. Lots of whataboutism. Yes-buts. Yada-yada. Garnering irritated eyerolls on my part.) All the while, Judy Woodruff kept her calm demeanor, reiterating that the issue had already gone to court. That the states had already certified, There was no widespread voter fraud.

Over the course of the day the whataboutism died down. Trump’s responsibility in all of this ramped up. Someone somewhere in the basement must have found a backbone. As of 5 PST, they seemed nearly ready to throw him to the sharks. Well, it took long enough.

In all this, I have to say that I’m grateful to the Republicans who never stood by this terrible person, the Never Trumpers. I’m grateful to the people of the Lincoln Project. I’m grateful to any and all Republicans who saw Trump for who he was, who walked away, and who didn’t stay silent. I’m grateful to Mitt Romney, with whom I disagree with on just about everything it seems except the importance of honoring your integrity and your faith. I cringe to think what might have happened with any pushback.

Some things I heard and saw throughout the day are things I never thought I’d see in my country.

  • People storming the Capitol, rushing the Capitol Police inside the building
  • People in MAGA hats who had just broken in wandering blithely through the Capitol like they were tourists on a tour
  • That “protesters” managed to get in the Capitol
  • An American flag coming down and a Trump flag being raised in its place
  • A traitorous confederate flag being waved in the halls of Congress
  • Senators lying on the floor and hiding behind barricades because there were guns in the building

I hope this is a wake up call for people who have supported this madman. I hope that somehow they can extract him from the People’s House ASAP. I don’t think we’ll make it another 2 weeks.

Today has been a dark day. May tomorrow bring a new dawn.


(Bright spot – If we do make it to the 20th, Democrats control the Senate! Bye-bye Mitch! Thank you, Georgia voters!!!)

Headwinds and Tailwinds

Photo by Joshua Abner on Pexels.com

In my previous post, I was hoping to discuss something I heard about on NPR this past weekend. I was listening to an interview with Maria Konnikova, psychologist and poker player, and as she discussed learning the game of poker, the idea of headwind/tailwind asymmetry was introduced.

Headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry is the work of Thomas Gilovich, psychology chair at Cornell University. The premise of the argument is that in our daily lives we struggle against headwinds and are boosted by tailwinds. Our outlook, motivation, and tendency toward resentment are all affected by these forces. Gilovich makes the point that, like runners and cyclists, we are very aware of the headwinds that are relentlessly buffeting us. He says that when we get a good tailwind, we are initially grateful, but quickly stop paying attention to the boost it’s giving us.

He links this to the ideas of gratitude and resentment. We all understand the headwinds. We’ve all felt them. It’s the lack of acknowledgement of the tailwinds that tends to cause problems. Maybe that’s a human brain problem. The brain is a lazy organ. It likes to go on autopilot. If it’s not dealing with a situation that’s impacting “survival,” the operating system puts the process in the background. Resentment comes from thinking you have it harder than the other guy. The way I understand it applying to the headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry is that we stop paying attention to our own tailwinds and notice only the headwinds, we experience life as being hard. But that’s not all. We notice others’ tailwinds, but not headwinds. They must have it easier. This leads to resentment and a lack of gratitude.

What would happen if we chose to focus in on our own tailwinds instead of those of others? We experience gratitude. With gratitude comes happiness.

Going back to the interview with Maria Konnikova, she relates this all to the idea of internal vs external locus of control. Who is responsible for what happens to you? When something bad happens, is it your fault or the fault of someone or something apart from you? This gets to the idea of responsibility and accountability. It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge our role in our failings. It’s easier to push them off onto an external factor. Most people do this. But if you could get over the ego hurdle, there is growth to be found in self-reflection. Unfortunately, some of us make self-reflection an art form, putting an undue burden on ourselves for our failings. Our inner critic is strong.

Conversely, when something good happens to you, is it due to your actions, or is it due to luck or good fortune? The tendency for many is to have an internal locus of control for the good things and an external locus for the bad. For some of us, there is a reluctance to attribute our successes to our own hard work and perseverance. We may instead give all of the credit to something outside ourselves, such as luck. Most of the time, however, the path toward success has been built piece by piece, reflecting hard work and planning.

We have a lot to say about where we go in life and the attitude we exhibit along the way. Resentment leads to self-handicapping and excuse making. In contrast, gratitude leads to happiness and a feeling of self-efficacy.

How do you usually reflect on the successes and failures in your own life? Would a change in perspective set you on a better path? Do you practice daily gratitude? Feel free to comment below.