The term “groupthink” was first introduced in the November 1971 issue of “Psychology Today” by psychologist Irving Janis. Janis had conducted extensive research on group decision-making under conditions of stress. Researchers have found that in a situation that can be characterized as groupthink, individuals tend to refrain from expressing doubts and judgments or disagreeing with the consensus. In the interest of making a decision that furthers their group cause, members may also ignore ethical or moral consequences. While it is often invoked at the level of geopolitics or within business organizations, groupthink can also refer to subtler processes of social or ideological conformity.
As I read the above statement, I felt a memory coming forward of another time, long ago, when I had been invited to a party as a young “20 something”. I was a young nurse at the U of M and the Head nurse of the unit in which we worked also attended the party as well as other nurse co-workers of mine. The host of the party was playing music and one of the records she put on was of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing some gospel music. I did not know that our Head Nurse was an atheist until that night when she began to make fun of the choice of music and Ernie Ford as well, laughing and mocking the songs and singer. Because she was our supervisor, others joined in on the laughter and added to the joke filled conversation. I said nothing, but was getting increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. I chose not to say anything in that room because I needed my job, and did not want to cause problems for myself at work. Instead, I left the party early with a couple of other co-workers, and on the way home, I shared my displeasure at what had just happened, and in return, my friends shared that they had disliked what happened too. I felt ashamed that Jesus and God were the center of the ridicule, so as it was happening, I refused to join in. I was unhappy with myself that I had not made a stand in that room, but I also did not want to cause conflict for the Hostess of the party so chose to leave as soon as possible. My opinion of my supervisor was completely deflated that night and I lost all respect for her. It was not so much about the fact that she was an atheist, but because she chose to be so disrespectful of everyone in the room who she knew could have been a Christian, and also disrespectful of the Hostess of the party!
Today, as I was watching the news updates on the covid-19 test positivity increases, I could see a side panel of very negative commentary posts where people were making horrible derogatory comments about our Vice President, our government leaders, all while making fun of their appearance, their intellect, and what they perceived to be a lack of leadership! They were calling the Vice President a liar and bashing everything he said. As I was reading the comments, I could feel my stress level increasing. Once again, what bothered me was not so much that they disagreed with the news conference and our leaders, but it was “how” their disagreement was being projected. The statements were full of anger, disrespect, contempt, ridicule and derision.
Whatever happened to civility? Why is it that all we hear anymore is anger and shouting? Finger pointing does not solve a thing. Burning and looting and defacing and tearing down monuments does not bring someone around to their way of thinking. It only brings about a quiet resistance from people who disagree with how things are being done. Right now it appears as if a radical portion of American citizens are having temper tantrums while we are all sitting back and watching it! It is disgraceful that a lot of our leaders are setting such bad examples for our children, and when I say this, I say BOTH political parties are guilty in this emotionally charged display.
I have a friend who always wants to debate politics but the way this person debates is never in a rational quiet conversation where we can share our thoughts and opinions. It is always laced with judgment and criticism and derision. I refuse to debate anyone who cannot find a way to speak in a respectful tone or listen to another persons point of view. What I experience, so often, is when I offer a differing opinion, no matter how politely I say it, this person will raise the volume of their voice which tells me right away that this is not a discussion, it is a battle of words.
So, just like after the party I attended so long ago, I am again remorseful that I do not feel comfortable getting into the political fight taking place right now. But, you have shown me who you are by your behavior and your lack of respect towards others by trying to destroy our history. You have lost any chance of my support in the wake of this madness. Taking down statues does not change history. I love our country and am grateful to those who sacrificed their lives to create a more perfect union. I recognize that no one person or group is all right or all wrong, but it is in fair give and take discussion where we all win. It is only in unity where we are strongest while division creates weakness and mayhem. Evil loves division for it makes it so much easier to distract and destroy.
God is all powerful and I will never cease asking for His guidance and His help as I traverse through this life. Whatever lays ahead, which ever way this upcoming election turns out, it does not change the fact that our all powerful God is always there for us, even in times when we question His presence.
Our country has served as a beacon to the world, as a place of hope for a better life and now it is being attacked. It breaks my heart that we have anyone who has benefited from living in this country, now intent on destroying it. Hatred is never the way. Love is all there is. I pray that our country survives this onslaught. In the meantime, I will VOTE and I will PRAY! I hope you do,too!