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Category Archives: People

Perpetuating Conflict

Often, interpersonal conflict is over differences of small and varying degrees.

What positions do you hold on to and refuse to let go of that perpetuate conflict?

Duck god

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Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Conflict Studies, People

 

Language and the Brain

How does language provide opportunities for growth and change through conflict?

Years ago, I took an Intro to Linguistics elective at Salt Lake Community College. One of the things that stuck in my mind was the concept of Nativism, that babies are born with the knowledge that languages are patterned, and with the ability to seek out those patterns. This capacity for language acquisition, known as a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), is genetic and not the result of a conscious decision on the part of the speaker. The LAD helps children understand the universal grammar of a language as well as the parameters of that language. This concept changed my interest from the mechanical aspects of language to the social use of language and the ways in which people communicate.

Recently, I tweeted a link to an article about how human brains have the capacity to remember the linguistic pattern of languages heard in a child’s infancy, even if the child no longer speaks/knows that language. Fascinating. The brain retains that information! This shows us how deeply entrenched language is in the human experience.

During my studies as an undergraduate, one of the first communication theories that I found truth in was George Herbert Mead’s theory of Symbolic Interactionism. In it, Mead discusses the connection between Meaning, Language, and Thinking. Meaning is the construction of social reality, Language is the source of meaning, and Thinking is the process of taking the role of the other. Here is a summary provided by afirstlook.com (the website for my old Comm Theory textbook).

  • Meaning: The construction of social reality.
    1. First principle: Humans act toward people or things on the basis of the meanings they assign to those people or things.
    2. Once people define a situation as real, it’s very real in its consequences.
    3. Where a behavioral scientist would see causality as stimulus–>response, for an interactionist it would look like stimulus–>interpretation–>response.
  • Language: The source of meaning.
    1. Meaning arises out of the social interaction people have with each other.
    2. Meaning is not inherent in objects.
    3. Meaning is negotiated through the use of language, hence the term symbolic interactionism.
      1. Second principle: As human beings, we have the ability to name things.
      2. Symbols, including names, are arbitrary signs.
      3. By talking with others, we ascribe meaning to words and develop a universe of discourse.
    4. Symbolic naming is the basis for society—the extent of knowing is dependent on the extent of naming.
    5. Symbolic interactionism is the way we learn to interpret the world.
      1. A symbol is a stimulus that has a learned meaning and a value for people.
      2. Our words have default assumptions.
      3. Significant symbols can be nonverbal as well as linguistic.
  • Thinking: The process of taking the role of the other.
    1. Third principle: An individual’s interpretation of symbols is modified by his or her own thought process.
    2. Symbolic interactionists describe thinking as an inner conversation, or minding.
      1. Minding is a reflective pause.
      2. We naturally talk to ourselves in order to sort out meaning.
    3. Whereas animals act instinctively and without deliberation, humans are hardwired for thought.
      1. Humans require social stimulation and exposure to abstract symbol systems to have conceptual thought.
      2. Language is the software that activates the mind.
    4. Humans have the unique capacity to take the role of the other.

Essentially, language creates and sustains our social reality, gives humans the ability to create complex social structures, and has the power to shape the world in which we live. This makes communication one of the most powerful forces on Earth and each person on the planet is born with the ability to use this power.

Okay. What’s the point?

The point is that an individual’s understanding of the world is controlled by the meaning that the individual has assigned, through language, to the world. This is where conflict comes from, because people have assigned different meanings to the same things.

Today I came across this article, How Your Brain Decides Without You.

In it, the author states, “We form our beliefs based on what comes to us from the world through the window of perception, but then those beliefs act like a lens, focusing on what they want to see.” Put another way, we form our beliefs based on what comes to us from the world through the window of our assigned meaningsand then those beliefs act like a lens, causing us to focus on what we want to see.

Basically, Symbolic Intetactionism or seeing life through theory, as Deetz put it.

This may be why individuals seemingly struggle with the same problems over and over again, the same conflicts over and over again. S/he has assigned a specific meaning to a situation/person/group/object, based on experience. Until s/he has an experience that provides him/her with an opportunity to change his/her assigned meaning to a given situation/person/group/object, it will not change. That experience is vital, as pointed out in the Brain article, because, “we are stubborn in our decisions…. Studying subjects’ brain activity via EEG, [researchers] found that people’s “memory signals” were much the same toward… incorrect information as they were toward… things they correctly remembered. Their interpretation of the event had hardened into truth.

“This hardening can happen without our awareness.”

Capital T Truth cannot be changed by information alone. It is changed through experience. Experience changes Truth because experience creates an opportunity for new meaning to be created and assigned by the individual.

When you experience conflict, I encourage you to engage it open mindedly. Use it as an opportunity to change your world.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Conflict Studies, Language, People

 

Change

The Lord will change you, with time, if you allow Him.

“But more I did in the Gospel, the more I learned, the more I prayed, the more I read, the more involved I got in my Branch, the more my vision and thoughts and outlook and desires changed. I wasn’t seeking answers to those specific things, but the more I exercised this faith I didn’t know if I had or not, and the more obedient I was, the more I just tried, the more blessed I was from Heavenly Father. I literally woke up one day and my mind was changed. I woke up one day and anything that I ever disagreed with, or desires I had that were not in line with the Gospel, disappeared on their own. He gave me understanding. Comfort. Knowledge.”

Found here.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in People, Religion

 

Technology & Fanboys @TMobile @Sprint @Windowsphone @BlackBerry @MobileNations

Dear T-Mobile. I walked into one of your stores today to discuss switching to T-Mobile from one of your competitors. When asked why I wanted to switch (an odd question – why does the clerk care why I’m switching? He should simply be willing to take my money), I told the clerk that it was because of my interest in the Nokia 925. He sneered and said, “Oh, Windows Phone? Why are you interested in that? You know, the GS4 just came out.” (Again, a stupid question. He shouldn’t care why I want a WP8 device, he should just care that I’m there to give your company money!)

I responded kindly regarding my interest in the WP platform, that I currently have an Android device, and that if I didn’t switch to WP8 I’d likely switch to the new Blackberry Z10. He responded, “Oh, we have Blackberry in stock” and escorted me over to it. “Good luck making it work. The UI isn’t very intuitive.” He was kind enough to even give me a small instructional flier. I picked up the device and zipped right through it. He was shocked! (You know, because, how could someone possibly know how to use something that isn’t Android? Oh wait, you mean, some people actually follow websites like Mobile Nations and learn about the latest and greatest in the mobile tech world?) Seriously, he was stupefied. “You see what I mean? It’s not very intuitive.” “I seem to be managing it just fine,” I replied. He continued to argue with me and say that Android this and Android that and blah blah blah blah blah….

I thanked him kindly and left. You could have gained a customer today. Instead, your Android Fanboy clerk blew it.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Eyes+Sharp Stick, People, Tech

 

Thoughts on Home Defense

From Caleb at Gun Nuts Media:

Now, I’m no gun expert like Joe Biden, but it occurs to me that if a known terrorist who’d already displayed a willingness to shoot it out with the cops and use explosives was on the loose in my neighborhood, I’d probably want a little more defensive firepower than a double barreled shotgun. I might even want a rifle like what the police likely used to shoot at said terrorist with. But that’s crazy talk, right? Dianne Feinstein said there’s no reason for me to own a military style weapon, because we have cops and the military to protect from things like terrorists running around shooting up neighborhoods.

The situation in Boston presents an excellent teaching moment. When the emergency broadcast system comes on and tells you there’s a terrorist loose in your neighborhood, do you want to lock the doors and cower in fear hoping for the best, or would you rather lock the doors and go about your life as normal, knowing that you have a rifle and the skill to use it?

 

Ukraine’s Got Talent

Boy, I’d say!

You don’t have to speak Russian to understand that!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in International, People, Special Interest

 

Federalism

Some talking head on some radio station this morning asked a self described “conservative” caller an interesting question: “You know, conservatives want the Federal government involved in some thing but not in others. Which is it? Why are you so back and forth on what you want government to do and not do?”

After fighting the urge to rip out my radio and throw it out the window, I chose a more effective way of dealing with the issue and screamed at the top of my lungs: “That’s American Federalism you f***ing MORON!!!” One of the beauties of the American system is that the powers granted to the states and the federal government are constantly being pushed and pulled, pinched and squeezed, expanded and contracted. The states acting as a check and a balance on the power of the feds and the feds acting as a check and a balance on the power of the states. IT’S A FEATURE NOT A BUG!

Thus, it is appropriate in certain instances for the state to hold power where the feds do not and there are appropriate instances where the feds to hold power over the states.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is one of the issues where the states and the feds are fighting for power. Sebastian points this out clearly in his post We Can No Longer Tolerate Two Americas. Go. Read.

 
 
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