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As individuals and nations self-righteousness is the bane of human relations, interpersonal, international and interfaith. Self-righteousness blocks our capacity for self-criticism, destroys humility, and under mines the sense of oneness that should bind us all.

We become self-righteous through our deeply rooted senses of the insecurities of not understanding the world around us. When as an individual or a nation state we don’t comprehend or choose not to understand, this process produces conflict within our mind and psyche. The clinical term is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs when an element of knowledge or enlightened understanding conflicts with our previously developed and patterned cognitions.

Overwhelmed by cognitive biases, humans tend to gravitate toward information which confirms our existing beliefs and practices. Information distribution becomes increasingly polarized as identities form around disparate modes of self-reinforcing ideological opinion. Currently we have constructed no mechanism to integrate the insights across the different ideology sub-sets.

We are at conflict or dissonance often with those newly discovered elements of knowledge. The theory of cognitive dissonance holds that cognitions serve as a driving force compelling the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions. People and nations thus, will seek to find information that is consonant with their own views, rather than dissonant, in order to reduce the amount of cognitive dissonance.

There are five clinically established methods of reducing this dissonance or conflict:

Overwhelmed by cognitive biases, humans tend to gravitate toward information which confirms our existing beliefs and practices.

  1. Changing one of the dissonant elements.
  2. Adding consonant conditions.
  3. Trivialization, or decreasing the importance of the dissonant cognitive element.
  4. Emotional expression.
  5. Distancing, like trivialization, it reduces dissonance by weakening the attachment to one of the dissonant conditions.

The domestic political fantasy life of the last nineteen years, finds us in an unnerving time loop of our own making in this country. History seems to be running in reverse and knowledge is not seen as a public good, but as something suspect, dubious or even ungodly, as it was for example in Italy in 1633, when the church put Galileo on trial for his heretical view that the earth was in orbit around the sun.

These past years have produced a prison house of the mind, insidiously endeavoring to promote a fleeting fraudulent terrorist phantom and a darkness of ego. It has produced the degradation of the thinking mind, all in fear of what it knows. Our society has mentally transported the rank and file back into the darkness of tribal war and shrieking, far from the tolerance that came with American religious freedom and liberty of our conscience. What is good as opposed to evil? Does it mean the evil of specific terrorist organizations or the evils of the political cultures of a country from which they came about?

Our civil discourse has morphed into a civil disguise. Today, the Coronavirus has forced people in fear to become restored to passive apathy, while the intellectual language of righteous empire cravenly moves on. Life becomes a constant paradox and we are caged by the mass hallucination of cultural programming where the best illusion wins, while we are taught a lesson-less past, and while everywhere we look we see the price of unchecked power.

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Our renewed civil discourse must adhere to three basic principles: 1. Facts matter, even if we don’t like them. 2. Universal moral principles matter, even if they have consequences and cognitions we prefer not to face. 3. Clarity matters, such as distinguishing between terror and the political culture that breeds it, and what lies uneasily at its borders; aggression and legitimate response to it.

Our country has experienced great mental conflict in recent years, because we have seen our omniscient view of the world disrupted since 9/11 and the ensuing events of world history. The knowledge of what to think, what to believe, and not believe, and how to react, is of vital importance at this perilous point in United States history.

Closed information loops are responsible for our negative and self-defeating cycles of behavior. They seem never to change and seem incapable of change. These closed loops of understanding and fixed behavioral patterns are part of the same matrix of dysfunction, whether in our own mind, our family, our community, business and society.

This practice of extracting and accumulating in order to concentrate the material wealth and power in the hands of the few is destined to destroy us all.

Closed information loops create few opportunities for true organizational learning, as any information outside what is assumed to be ‘known as fact’ is avoided. This sets up the organization to fail when it faces any new challenges in the real world. The organization, like the republican controlled U.S. Senate, then becomes incapable to adapt to change when the organization is void of the fundamental cognitive openness required to understand the nature of the change and its dynamics.

Closed loops of action and reaction have a cancerous quality as in the cycle of international ignorance. Middle Eastern targets are destroyed and civilians die, the behavior of the aggressor angers the people, whose lives have been destroyed, some of these people become radicalized by extremist groups, the aggressor based manufacturers supply weapons to the extremists, the extremists use aggressor supplied weapons to attack aggressor western targets, the western aggressors react to extremists by bombing Middle eastern targets. The outcome becomes merely kicking the can down the road, because the real issues of deep, honest, cognitive organizational adaptation are not addressed, which guarantees a continuation of the crisis.

This practice of extracting and accumulating in order to concentrate the material wealth and power in the hands of the few is destined to destroy us all.


The moral consciousness of our superego comprises the learned concepts from our socialization. Our egos are the inflection point and personal war zone, and battle ground between our unconscious actions, the id that drives an ever intersecting matrix of thoughts, the ego, and the moral imperatives of our culture refracted by our superego. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force in attitude formation. Research in dissonance theory may someday lend credence to the philosophical idea that errors in human thinking are the result of cognitive dissonance.

As Einstein said, “Everything in the world has changed, but the way we think.”

T. D. Duff