Based on 30 years in the Human Service/Mental Health field I have heard concerns about other people “abusing” or “scamming the system” and “expecting everyone else to pay their way”, etc. Ive heard a lot about how people “are just lazy and just collect welfare because they can”. I’ve heard about how people fake out social security disability administration and yet everyone I know who has ever tried to apply has been turned down an average of at least 3 times if they ever got approved. I know that I haven’t met everyone in the world but I have worked with hundreds of individuals and families receiving public assistance. In addition, I have presented numerous times at state conferences, schools, churches, communities, etc. & in doing so I have heard countless others reports of their observations as well. I have conducted research within urban and rural settings relative to children’s mental health and families who were often targets of these quotes. Most of these opinions are held by thinkers of the quotes above, and have been expressed most often in my experience about people of color or “white trash”. Sadly, these sentiments have usually been expressed by people who report to be “Christians”…
I don’t hear a lot of other reasons people vote conservative because of these or very similar held opinions/beliefs. I have heard these reports with specifics on this family or that—and I honestly can’t say that I could or could not verify those statements. I have met other people who I have observed have likely “abused the system”…BUT—I must tell you in nearly 3 years playing rock n roll around the country and 30 years in this field—I’ve been blessed to meet lots of people from every walk of life—but I have not met “those people”, (Julia Dinsmore), described by the quotes above. I have met many, many who may be receiving public assistance but working one FT job at a minimum but most often a PT job on the side as well and not making it but working really hard so someday they’d be able to. I have met so many people that lacked the lived experiences to learn how to do things the way most people learn the best. I have NEVER met a single person the quotes above supposedly reference who didn’t want to learn about how to build their capacity into competencies. What I have found is that we have turned convenience into the New Golden Calf as our standard—if I’m successful it means I have enough money to pay everyone to do everything for me so I can exist in a state of leisure/pleasure/bliss = the American Dream—is it any wonder we’ve created a society where we worship easy, fast, fun now and anything less is almost considered painful. Discomfort, failure, rejection, and disappointment are considered useless and beneath us. We pursue more and more convenience/minimizing discomfort and any need for perseverance—(or value thereof). Young people’s social and emotional learning today is being undermined by the scarcity of experiential/lived experiences which require us to engage our entire physiology thereby fostering learning, practicing, mastering, & generalizing life/social/emotional skills which prepare them for life (Turck, 2011)!!
I think it’s time we begin to look at each other differently and understand most people are not using the system. Most people want to build capacity into competencies but if we ONLY rely on “easy, fast, fun, now…social and emotional learning is minimal. Social and emotional intelligence requires lived experience. Screen-based living doesn’t provide that—but it does act easy, fast, fun, now—the insidious grip of the dumbing down of AMERICA and exploding emotional dysregulation.
Social and emotional intelligence is required for executive brain function (empathy, altruism, selflessness)—there’s a reason it seems like we are seeing more and more emotional dysregulation—we have eroded into everyone gets a trophy, my feelings can’t get hurt, nobody fails, and everything that we value is easy, fast, fun, now—and then give me more and more because for some reason this isn’t satiating.
According to recent research in neuroscience in order to change this we need to engage children in activities which are:
Requires intentional focus
And include the integration and understanding of 5 major theoretical applications (Experiential Learning, Social Learning, Symbolic Interactionism, Strength-Based, & Ecological Systems theories (Turck, 2011)
When world leaders glamorize and idolize materialism, greed, and unrelenting pleasure is the standard by which ones stature is determined at all costs//we lust for more—-because we can just do it—does it mean we should? Is there physiological value in delaying gratification, persevering on difficult tasks or projects?? When we learn, practice, and master these skills—we have mastered self-control and self-discipline. We can be consistently, thoughtful, reasonable, kind, and sincere.
Instead our would be role models live lives of luxury and excess and as a society we have made this the standard by which we determine value it’s no wonder we’ve become afraid of hard work, our current leader embodies hard work as just two more 4-letter words. We have been lulled to sleep by this Giant with greed/lust for more convenience—more “easy, fast, fun, now!” As with technology, convenience is a good thing but it has also become the screw tape of our time/society.
As parents, over the years it has become common knowledge that there was this notion that good parents always want their children to have it better (easier) than they did. With every good intention we have removed barriers, obstacles, hurdles, discomfort, rejection, and failure from children’s lives thinking that would be a good thing. We all know though that to learn something really well you have to do it over and over and over, right? Well if I have no practice in bouncing back (resilience), how does my body ever learn to deal with that discomfort? The answer is it doesn’t (the need for lived experience/hermeneutic phenomenology). Instead we become dysregulated because we don’t know how to handle out shit. “No” never really meant “no” consistently, and my hissy fit always got my parents to cave—
everyone is telling you it’s no big deal—(or at least you’re telling yourself that)and our kids grow up lacking the lived experiences to develop social & emotional intelligence and significantly lack empathy and insight (Siegel, 2011) so everything is everyone else’s fault.
We need a 30 year plan to correct our country and it must be focused on developing social and emotional intelligence utilizing the recent findings in neuroscience integrated with the theories identified above. We need to begin with early childhood education so that by the time these kids have grown we will have well-balanced, socially and emotionally intelligent citizens which really would make America great again. We live in a dysregulated society. Gun violence is only a symptom and until we get down to this systemic issue of human development we will continue to nurture a more and more dysregulated society.
Siegel, D. Mindsight, 2011
Siegel, D. The pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology, 2012
Turck, K. DIRT GROUP: Growing to learn, learning to grow. How does participation in experiential gardening groups influence social-skill development in at-risk youth?, 2011
Van Der Kolk, B. The body keeps the score, 2017