Buddy, Tacky, and Muhammad walk into a bar. (And have great conversation.)

Remember in that one movie, when the dude with funny clothes and customs and eating habits, with bizarre beliefs about an omnipotent guy in the sky, freaked the heck out of a New York City family, but ultimately enriched their lives with one wicked snowball fight and several touching moments of love and loyalty?

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Well, listen to this cotton-headed-ninny-muggin concept that I just heard a couple of really smart guys discussing in a couple videos:

(Paraphrased.):

Forget about liberal and conservative.  There are two prevailing beliefs: Globalism, which is all about taking down walls and being outraged that some have increased opportunity simply because of where they live; and Patriotism, which takes great pride in the success of one’s own individual country.

Now, when globalist countries start letting John Lennon (Imagine all the people…) dictate their politics and open their doors for a Koombaya session, ultimately this triggers a psychological process in a segment of the population which is bad for society. We know from social psychology research that human beings engage in more pro social mindsets and behaviors (trust, helping, etc) with people who we deem to be more like us.  This is called “social capital.”  When diversity increases, social capital decreases, and therefore, businesses, education, and other measures of society’s success decrease.

 And we know that there will always be a segment of the population with what is called an “authoritarian” mindset, or the strict adherence to social conventions and norms, and a willingness to be hostile and punitive to those who threaten these norms. (Note: This video says this is not a bad thing, but I call this “rigidity,” and am struggling to see it as having sufficient value to justify its downside. Anyway.) Those are the people who will especially engage in behaviors that decrease social capital when diversity is introduced.

Therefore, there is legitimate concern for societal impact in the event of increased diversity. This is an uncomfortable reality, but a reality nevertheless.

If you didn’t follow all that: Niether guy was saying that immigration increases terror risk or hurts jobs, the economy, or education.  Indeed the actual research on these topics would likely be eye-opening to many, if research were the type of thing that opened eyes in fear and politics.  Anyway.  What they were saying, in a nutshell, is that research shows that most of us are slightly less trusting and pro social with people who are different than us, and so diversity decreases positive societal measures.  And many people even have “authoritarian” psychological makeup, which leads to fewer pro social behaviors in the presence of diversity (Their anxiety is triggered by deviations in convention and they are willing to use force to maintain what they consider to be order and norms.  If you wonder what your neighbor/teacher/friend’s politics are, watch how they parent. The overall psychology of a person informs both similarly. Says the raging liberal who didn’t see the harm in letting her boy wear his beloved Tinker-bell costume to the grocery store and also wrote this). So, in conclusion, diversity and immigration have negative consequences because most people are kinda fearful, closed-minded dicks who will act out in the presence of such scenarios.

Is it just me, or does the logic not line up?

Why are we taking the researched-and-measured realities of “decreased social capital” and “authoritarian psychology,” as acceptable givens?  Why are we not challenging the negative aspects of each? Because it sure as hell isn’t the diversity that is the harmful thing; it’s the reaction to it.  (A basic tenet of cognitive psychology:  Our thoughts and assumptions are the buffers that make or break the scenario.)

I read two books to my middle kid’s first grade class this past week. They were both about a goofy penguin named Tacky who did things his own way. The other penguins marched, Tacky galloped; The other penguins sang beautifully, Tacky belched odd disjointed lyrics; The other penguins adhered to order, Tacky unapologetically zigzagged about. At first the conventional penguins were palpably nervous. They were uncomfortable with the “different” penguin being all strange. His oddity threatened their sense of order and perhaps their very identities. How anxiety provoking. But eventually, they became a little less rigid and categorical; They learned that not only did Tacky’s jumping and belching and laughing and zigzagging not threaten who they were one bit, but his ways even enhanced their sometimes boring lives.

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Even a first grader can learn to manage his order-and-identity-threatening anxiety in the presence of an obvious weirdo. (The moral of the “Tacky the Penguin” books.)

Anyway, if we can teach first graders who are in the most concrete stage of their development, to straddle the dichotomy of “different than me yet also okay,” maybe the experts could put such a goal out there for adults.

From, The psychologist that sees that extreme, fundamentalist rigidity is sometimes a way to achieve purpose, control, and a sense of security. And it doesn’t even have to be a religion or a race, and it doesn’t even have to be from the right.  The causes of the left, interestingly, I am just realizing, (anti-racism, globalism, equality, etc.) are some people’s religions (perhaps actually mine?), and have just as much opportunity to become fundamentalist, rigid, and extreme as the God-kind of religion. Just another way psychology is woven into all of this….

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