When times are very hard, and for most of us these times are, my first go to is music. I would like to share this highly eclectic list of just some of the tunes that see me through. Songs I Turn (and Return) To.
Some poems just come to me. Others I seek out.
The lines that keep coming to my head are from Wordsworth: "The world is too much with us, late and soon..." The lines I remind myself of are TS Eliot: "I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope/For hope would be hope for the wrong thing..."
I've put a link to the complete Wordsworth sonnet. The Eliot lines, which have come to mind many times before now, are from Four Quartet's. I have linked a resource for the book below, along with a link to the passage these lines are from.
Other poems in the list below are poems from my notebook of favorites that particularly speak to me now.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes, Emily Dickenson
The Day Lady Died, Frank O’Hara
Four Quartets, TS Eliot. I could not find this book length poem online. These lines were available and are the one that come to me during challenging times.
Glass-Bottom Boat, Elizabeth Spires
The Lilacs, Richard Wilbur
A Summer Garden, Louise Glück
Thank You Lord for the Dark Ablaze, Steve Scafidi
The Wild Swans at Coole, William Butler Yeats
The World is Too Much With Us, William Wordsworth
Wishing Well, Gregory Pardlo
We all know that resolutions are very hard to keep. Gym membership peaks in January and drops significantly by mid-February. I know that I will find these resolutions hard to keep.
"10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts", by Paul Glader.
Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers, by John W. Dean and Bob Altemeyer.
"How to Break Out of Your Social Media Echo Chamber", by Christopher Seneca.
I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening). by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers.
Talking Across the Divide: How to Communicate With People You Disagree With, by Justin Lee.
The Three Languages of Politics, by Arnold Kling.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy, by David Frum.
And that has to be the hardest resolution of all. I also think it may be the most important.
I have throughout the Trump Era assured my Republican friends and relatives that I love you and am deeply committed to your right to disagree with me. Respectful dialogue across party lines makes us stronger.
Everything I've read about division points to social media as one of the primary sources of polarization and misinformation. That's not news to me, yet I catch myself in the kinds of knee jerk reactions that contribute to the mess we're in. I like and share before I fact check. I comment before I process and reflect.
Here's the thing: understanding another person's point of view does not mean I have to agree with them. I emphasize this because sometimes it feels like it does.
I want to listen with curiosity, trying to understand what this other person means, and why they feel that way. I want to listen respectfully, which does not mean I will respect hate. It means I will not interrupt, I will not denigrate, and I will leave a conversation if my ability to maintain respect is being eroded.
I will listen with sincerity, meaning I will not listen just to figure out how to prove my own point. And I will listen with an open mind, realizing that understanding another point view is how I grow--when I find I agree, sure, but also when I don't agree , but now have a deeper understanding of how they got there. I can learn a lot from that.
Oh but it's hard. It's so hard. One day, at a time of blatantly ugly rhetoric against immigration, I was in the grocery store. The man ahead of me in line said to the checker, a woman with darker skin and an accent, "ICE is looking for you." I said, "She's welcome here. You're not."
Not to say that will be easy. Research demonstrates that we are led by our unconscious biases far more than we realize. In Talking Across the Divide, Justin Lee describes a series of Yale studies in which participants were asked to evaluate two welfare proposals. Sometimes Democrats were told highly conservative stringent proposals had been proposed by Democrats, and likewise, Republicans were told that highly generous policies had been proposed by Republics.
"People claimed their party's supposed position as their own, no matter what that position was." If a Democrat was told that a very conservative policy was a Democrat position, they supported it, and if a Republican was told that a very liberal policy was Republican, they supported it.
There are numerous other studies that support this finding. Enter terms such as "party loyalty" or "partisan loyalty" and "studies" or"experiments" and see what you get.
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman cites numerous experiments that demonstrate how strong, and how well hidden, unconscious bias actually is. It will require deliberate effort to focus my attention on the facts, and as needs be, expand my views to include information that I would often prefer to ignore. This by no means suggests I have to let go of my core values. Far from it. Focusing on keeping an open mind lets in more information that could actually support my values.
Concrete example: I am deeply distressed by police violence against people of color. Some of my friends are calling for defunding the police. How would I process information that suggested increasing funding for the police reduces police violence? Would I read it at all? Would I read it with an eye towards punching holes in the research? Would I read it with an open mind and do my best to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Forbes Magazine list the following as the most unbiased news sources. Some readers may have their own biases against these news sources, however. Forbes also mentions several wire sources, such as Reuters. Following wire sources can be a great way to get to the heart of an information stream.