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  • Reverend James Squire

Tapper and Carlson

Have you ever heard Jake Tapper say that he was wrong about something? Have you ever heard Tucker Carlson say that he was wrong about something? They both are content to be in their one silo world. No matter what Joe Biden does, one says that he is terrific leader while the other says that he is leading us down the road of socialism. They are at home in a black and white world.

The problem is that they are not operating in a transformational world of being a fully human being.

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, “The test of a first–rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still be able to function.” I would change that statement a bit to what separates people from just living and really living fully are those who are in the category of a first- rate emotional intelligence. What Fitzgerald was describing has a new label. It is called cognitive dissonance which means we can hold two conflicting realities together at the same time. One sees the world in black and white and the other sees the world as gray. Tapper and Carlson are content to stay in their lanes and continue to promote what we call confirmation bias. Their antennae are out to find information that supports their point of view. There is a rare group of people who can “walk and chew gum” in a gray world. My wife, Vicki, is one.

A friend said something to me recently that is an example of Fitzgerald’s point. She said, “I have a sad life right now, but I am a very happy person.” If Carlson and Tapper were having a conversation with her, they might not be able to figure out what she was talking about. They would say, “You are sad and happy! You can’t be both.” However, the great novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald would very quickly get it, and would say that people who can say what she said are in a high group of social/emotional intelligent people.

One of the great things about teaching Ethics to older adolescence is that you can see first -hand a change from a black and white world to one that may be gray. There are things that are always right and always wrong. There are absolutes in our world. But in the course description I indicated that I wanted students to walk around a problem and see it from many different angles sometimes requiring the student to hold two conflicting issues or emotions at the same time.

When course evaluations and the evaluations of me come back, I am impressed and sometimes moved by what is said like,” My view of _______hasn’t changed, but I didn’t know that my classmates could have so many different ways of seeing the issue. I can now get into why they see things the way that they do.” To use a sports metaphor, I watch them go from a single play in their playbook which results in them being limited with the same play being run over and over again to having many plays that they can understand and a multidimensional approach to get the ball in the net meaning a fuller life.

The problem is I don’t think that Tapper or Carlson could ever make that statement. People don’t tune in to them to get two opposing thoughts. They tune in to them to get what they already believe confirmed. CNN and Fox are confirmation bias stations.

This is the way that we are tending to move as a nation, armed opposing camps. What we need now is people who are just as happy being wrong as they are at being right. Yes, you read that right. That is what is needed now particularly in a divided nation. Be careful of people who never apologize for something that they have said or done. We need more like my friend who “can have a sad life at this moment but be a happy person”. I don’t think that Tapper or Carlson would understand that. Our kids need to know that life is not either/or as it can be both/and.

No one has captured what Fitzgerald’s words look like in the religious life that is filled with cognitive dissonance than the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis. I will often tell couples whose marriages I bless to go to the web, find the Prayer of Saint Francis, print it, cut it out and put it in their wallet. During days when they are trying to hold together the most important aspects of life to take it out, find a quiet place, and pray it. I treasure the feedback I get from them about that request. Rev, I am still getting that Prayer of St. Francis out!

Lord, make me and instrument of your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair hope;

Where these is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console,

To be understood as to understand,

To be loved as to love,

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

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