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With all of the unrest and conflict in the world today, the news seems to be an ever-growing miasma of negativity. It is easy to get lost in hopeless resignation or casting blame on others for all of the problems. It seems this is where many if not most people stay stuck.

A constructive approach requires seeking solutions instead of just wallowing in negativity. But before you can seek solutions, you must see things as they are, and not as your prejudices and illusions make them appear.

Kent Thune, The Financial Philosopher, has a great post addressing the dysfunction in the world and the blindness of most to the causes thereof.

The Symptoms of Disconnection From Reality

Here are 3 of 5 of Thune’s symptoms of Disconnection from Reality, followed by my comments:

Lack of Understanding: When we fail to see, respect or at least tolerate the perspectives of other people, we create separation, conflict, and related problems. This is the work of ego: We fail to listen because the ego only listens to respond. We are knowingly or unknowingly rejecting and disconnecting from reality, the only place where peace, love and understanding can be found.

Thune sees most people as being unconscious minds cut off from reality by confirmation bias and ego. We don’t see reality as it is because it is easier to scapegoat the other party or some other group for all of the world’s problems.

Extreme Voices Dominating: The world is made to be much more complex, frightening, and contentious than it really is because the loudest voices, which are also the extreme ones, are magnifying the wrong problems (or creating ones where none exist). The way we connect to (or rather disconnect from) the world is primarily through some form of media, which includes network television, the Internet, and social media. A 10-second sound bite from one radical individual or an image of a few dozen people performing a disturbing act can color our perspective of an entire community or nation.

We tend to seek out the extreme voices that gibe with our worldview. These people are paid to gin up controversy. Talk radio, MSNBC, Fox News, etc. They are incentive-caused bias writ large. Their incentives for higher ratings run exactly counter to the best interests of the country. They paint radically different pictures of the world that are at best illusions and at worst lies. These different pictures are incompatible with one another and lead directly to our poisoned culture.

Broken Political System: Politicians today do not get elected based upon the substance of their ideas but on the effectiveness of their illusions. Money does not win elections; money buys higher quality illusions in greater quantities. In a world of illusion, the best illusionists rule. The individuals best suited to serve in government may not even run for office because they refuse to play the deceptive game. This has always been true to some degree but more so with today’s information technology.

The politics of lies and illusions is what we are left with. You almost can’t be elected as a non-extreme problem solver any more, and the few in office should be put on the endangered species list. And it isn’t the politicians fault. The politicians we have are a product of all of us as voters. We want people in office who represent our own distorted view of reality.

You Can Light a Candle or Curse the Darkness

As Kent says above, “We fail to listen because the ego only listens to respond.” The problem isn’t another party or group, we are all a big part of it until we shed our own self-serving and distorted views. This is the prerequisite to solving problems, rather than just impotently lamenting how the world seems to be going to Hell.

Like it or not, we are all in this together. Let’s sacrifice our egos and illusions to get connected with reality and start solving some of our problems.