Endorphins Overpower Reason

Agenda Afflicted
By Norman E. Kjono, May 31, 2007

From MSNBC News, January 24, 2006, "Democrats and Republicans Both Adept at Ignoring Facts, Study Finds," by LiveScience.com:

 "Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows. And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that's contrary to their point of view. . . . The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say. Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained. The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making. . .  Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning. "  

People who seize levers of power, or engage in deceptive and manipulative schemes, to get what they want define themselves to be powerless on their own merit and capability. The sense of empowerment is derived from the emotional charge received through dominating others. Having the power to ignore - indeed, willfully discard - the legitimate interests of others increases the intensity of their emotional response.

Were the Agenda Afflicted not personally powerless they would choose the security and stability of reliance on their own innate skills and abilities to create their life as they choose. Lacking the ability to produce constructive results through reason and earnest endeavor, they inevitably choose short term emotional gratification over productive results from long term effort.  As time progresses, the need for increasing frequency of endorphin hits escalates. Accordingly, ever-increasing expansion of the agenda that provides the emotional hits becomes the dominant mandate. The more the agenda escalates the greater the amount of information they feel empowered to ignore; hence, the greater reinforcing rush they get by persisting with an increasingly dysfunctional scheme. In due course, the Agenda Afflicted become the classic monkey that starves to death by ignoring access to food while fixating on pushing the cocaine button to get the hit to the exclusion of other alternatives.

Such folks are therefore also, again by definition, incapable of producing competent results: truly constructive results produce policy that works for everyone, whereas those who use power as the means to emotional gratification are narcissistic. So long as the consequences of their dysfunctional programs affect a minority of individuals or groups the Agenda Afflicted remain in power. Their compulsion for gratification at the expense of others proves to be the Agenda Afflicted's undoing, however. As their dysfunctional policy expands so does its adverse affects on others.

Soon, such folks find themselves at the height of perceived power but confronted with an insurmountable number of facts and challenges that they can no longer ignore. When this point is reached the scheme or agenda first consumes its resources in vain attempts to sustain the status quo, then collapses under its own weight of contradiction and adverse impact. Those Agenda Afflicted who politically or economically survive the experience do not learn from that phenomenon, being emotionally or genetically defective they merely choose another agenda and begin the same process again. 

Thus, the adage that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Needless to say, normal people are condemned to relearn history along with the Agenda Afflicted. But that is the true price of liberty and freedom: grow up and learn, become functioning adults who can reason with facts, stand for what supports liberty for everyone, or go back to the schoolhouse that plays the endlessly-repeating tape of history. Either way, people learn and humankind ultimately benefits. The only question is how much angst and hardship they put themselves through to finally "get it" about the lesson at hand.

There are a few basic steps that those opposing such systems should consider. The first step is to be aware of the adage that the danger of being an activist is becoming that which you oppose. Avoid the trap of becoming and "anti-anti." As members of Congress amply illustrate, few things are more dysfunctional to humankind than two deeply-polarized groups self-righteously getting it off by ignoring every facet of the other side of the aisle's viewpoint, while stridently proclaiming the "correctness" of their agenda. Only politicians, antis and fools advance fatally-flawed refusal of dialog as a constructive cure for dysfunctional policy. They do so because they foolishly believe that acknowledging of any merit in the opposition's views disempowers them.

Such behavior is the source of form letter responses from politicians to the effect of "Gee whizz, dear constituent, it's really, really great that you wrote me. Boy howdy, do I appreciate hearing from folks in my district. Aw shucks, I appreciate your interest in the subject. I will keep your thoughts in mind as I vote on that issue." Left unsaid, of course is any response to the several pages of pertinent information included under the cover letter sent. The hurrah blather being strongly overpowered by the conspicuous silence on the issue to which the constituent committed several hours drafting the cover letter.

Normal folks understand that if the agenda was so perfectly correct to begin with the defectives would not be studiously ignoring questions about it, they would embrace questions and challenges as the way to demonstrate the genuine merit of their policy agenda. Lacking merit, the only way dysfunctional agendas can be advanced is by ignoring opposing views and refusing meaningful dialog.

Beyond those initial thoughts, there are a few steps that earnest opposition folks can take:

1. Accept that the fact that dominator systems predictably work in the short run: many things can get done very quickly in a dictatorship of self-anointed deciders that cannot be achieved through the democratic process. But it is equally true that dominator systems predictably, and with certainly, fail. They do so because of the accumulating adverse consequences imposed on others to accomplish a flawed agenda. Look beyond the hurt of the moment imposed by a dominator system that appears to be working, embrace the predictable certainty that it will ultimately fail. The following steps can increase the speed with which current dominator systems will predictably fail.

2. Understand the nature of the species with which one is confronted: principally, that there are no arguments of logic, reason or fact that are more powerful to that animal that the hit on endorphins they receive from ignoring the argument. The Agenda Afflicted revel in ignoring individuals who bring logic and reason to the table. They delight in the squeals of pain and angst they hear from those that their policies adversely affect. Such things are what enhance their sense of power.

3. Point out the adverse impacts to others to as many diverse groups as possible: soon, many who did not believe they were adversely affected, or who felt they were isolated in their objection, will begin to oppose the agenda, too. In due course as opposition grows those who attempt to carve policy exemptions to benefit themselves while leaving other opponents twisting in the wind to fend for themselves - Quislings - will find their unseemly behavior increasingly rejected by responsible opponents. As earnest opposition expands confrontation of power centers that advance self-serving agendas increases. Cooperate with others to create momentum through diverse interest groups that agree on a few common and simple points of interest.

4. Create and present sustained challenges to the agenda that cannot be ignored: the greatest, most irrational, fear the Agenda Afflicted harbor is loss of the hit of endorphins they crave. When confronted with a scope of opposition so broad that it cannot be ignored or imminent, undeniable authority of law they lose it. These creatures truly do not know how to function outside the womb of their carefully-crafted self-perpetuating group think. Often, they are sufficiently delusional that they convince their own group think the nobility of their cause is so righteous that any means justify their self-serving ends. They have no idea how to get what they want through earnest endeavor that considers others to have legitimate interests or rights on equal standing with their own desires. When broad and sustained opposition rises it creates its own moral imperative and authority. When application of law becomes undeniable that part of the agenda will predictably collapse. Events of this nature inspire stark unreasoning fear in the Agenda Afflicted. Fear leads to overreaction; overreaction empowers and expands opposition. Put them in a position of perpetual overreaction inspired by abject fear of losing the one and only thing they value: the endorphin hit acquired by ignoring the interests and manipulating the lives of others.

5. Embrace the fact that violence toward the Agenda Afflicted is not a viable alternative: first, it increases the hit on their endorphins acquired by showing how powerful they when "crushing" opponents - they truly get a rush from it; second, it "justifies" agendas to "crack down" on their targets - what they intended to do in the first place; and third, violence undermines the credibility of earnest opposition in the public eye - without public understanding and support the moral imperative that rises from expanding opposition will not occur.

6. Seize the opportunity to compete with Agenda Afflicted defectives: few things are more enjoyable than winning back through diligent inquiry and earnest endeavor the prize so jealously seized and hidden through deception. That victory is its own reward because it restores that most valued by a responsible and caring people, the free-market liberty for each person to win their life's game on merit.

We could all go home, turn off our computers, silence any opposition, and the antis would still fail in the final analysis. They would do so as predictably as the monkey hitting the cocaine button because they can never get enough of what they crave. That will occur because self-serving policy always produces fatally-flawed results.

It seems to me that it is a much more enjoyable experience to win on merit what was stolen through deception. And there is a point where the magnitude of adverse consequences imposed special-interest policy tantrums commands responsible adult supervision.

Norman E. Kjono

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