Are we heading towards a second civil war?
Rodney Flowers interviews Peter Montoya about his latest book The Second Civil War. They talk about Peter’s personal experiences that inspired him to write this book, the role of the media, what evolutionary psychology teaches us about our national divide, and Peter shares his practical strategies that you can deploy to help reunify our divided nation.
Well, hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Game Changer Mentality podcast. I am your host, Rodney Flowers, bestselling author, keynote speaker and a resilience trainer. And as always, I am excited about today’s show. I have a gentleman here with me who is in a very exceptional person.
He’s published his I think this is his second book or his newest bestselling book, The Second Civil War A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. And this is a very important topic, because we’re in a space right now where, you know, there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of hurt, and there’s a lot of division
. And so this book is about what are the dividing lines and how can we how can we bridge the gap? How can we bring ourselves closer together and heal some of the wounds that have resulted from some of that division and and all the conflict that’s going on in the world.
So let’s welcome Peter Montoya to the Game Changer Mentality Podcast. Welcome to the show, Peter.
Rodney, I am thrilled to be here today.
OK, well, I’m glad to have you here. And this is your second time around, as a matter of fact.
So I’ve done a 100 podcast interviews, and you are one of my absolute favorite people to have a conversation with. Rodney, I think you’re exceptional.
Well, I really appreciate that. I think you’re exceptional as well. And I’m excited about the book that you have, The Second Civil War, A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. I want to get into that.
But I want to just just ask you, man, because it’s been a little while since I’ve had a chance to talk to you. How have you been with everything that’s going on in the world? How you holding up?
That’s a great question. Thank you for asking, Rodney. You know, the pandemic was really transformative in so many positive ways, and yet I don’t want to go through it again. I’ve spend way too many hours in the six walls, four walls of this office here.
But one of the good things is I learned I could do training by zoom versus having to get on an airplane. I learned how much more effective I am sitting behind a desk versus being in an airplane a hundred days a year.
So that’s been very, very transformative. I wrote a book and on top of that, I launched a new social media platform. So it was a very, very creatively inspired time.
Well, I really appreciate that. That’s all of the positive effects that have come out of the pandemic. And, you know, I realized that’s a choice to view it that way. Right. We could talk about all the negative things that have occurred as a result of that.
But it’s good that you’re doing well. And I’m excited to have you back on the show. And thank you for thinking of of me and of the game changing mentality brand in the team. Because, you know, we love we love what we do and we love putting out good content that can help change the world.
And, you know, the pandemic was just one. Issue of many that we’re all facing right now hits, you know, your book that you’ve written. Right. So tell us a little bit about your book and why why did you write this book?
So I wrote this book because of my dad. My dad has now since passed away. But my dad for the most the bulk of my the bulk of my life was completely and totally apolitical. He I didn’t even know a party he belonged to.
He never talked about politics. And then one day, a couple of years ago, all of a sudden, he started bringing to politics. And when he started bringing up politics, he was angry. You know, his brow was furrowed. His face got a little bit red.
And he was really impassioned about it. And he was kind of caught up in what we call a Manichean worldview. American worldview is where everything is good or evil, good or bad. No middle ground is everything was very, very divided.
It was kind of strange. It was at my house. And then I went over to his house one day for dinner. And I actually got there before he did. And his wife was there. I was sitting there talking with her that he came in.
He barely said hello. He sat down in front of the TV and he turned on cable news and he started watching cable news before he really engaged with me. And I go, does he normally do this? And she goes, yeah, this is pretty much his schedule.
He got in front of the TV. He sat in front of the TV and actually he fell asleep watching cable news. He woke up in the morning watching more cable news. He got in the car listening to what I would call hate radio.
And while he was driving to work in the morning, he was calling his wife, complaining about the stories he heard on the radio. And then when he was at work, all he would do was talk with his coworkers about how awful everything was happening around the world.
He became completely indoctrinated, engrossed into this world of politics. And it was awful. It was terrible. I basically lost my relationship with it. And I didn’t argue politics, but I lost my relationship with him because he wasn’t there anymore.
He wasn’t present anymore. He was in a completely different world. So I wanted to figure out what was going on.
OK, and so walk us through that, like what did you discover?
Yeah. So I think the first chapter in the book is called Politics is Our New Religion. And I’m not talking about religion as in one’s walk in faith to a higher power. I mean religion in the sense of a way of life.
And for some people, their religion is their family. For the people, the religion is Christianity. For the people, their religion, the surfboarding. And for a lot of Americans now, especially during the pandemic, there are new religion has become politics.
And so what we see now on TV is a version of reality, but it really isn’t reality. Roddie, I don’t know if you’re as old as I am to remember the late 80s. The late 80s is the last time I think we had real news journalism where news journalists came on.
I mean, they’ve told the truth and they try to get the facts right. And we also had these dramas. Are you old enough to remember Dynasty and Dallas?
Yeah, I remember.
These were these huge nighttime dramas. And we also had wrestling on Saturdays. Yeah. We as human beings like to exercise this kind of moral reasoning through these large archetypes of good versus evil. If you’ve watched Wrestling or Dallas or any of those shows, you have your kind of your gods and your demigods and your foot soldiers, and
you’ve got the people who are you’re kind of prognosticators. Your pastors explain what’s going on. All those people kind of exist in those worlds. And then what happened with the advent of cable news and the Internet? What happened is those worlds emerged.
And now we’re basically are exercising that same kind of Greek tragedy archetypes in our brain. We’re kind of exercising those watching the news. So all news today is basically being divided and it’s basically saying it’s good versus evil versus just giving us the information.
So I want to be informed and not influenced. And the news today, all it’s trying to do is influence us by helping us kind of manipulate these manichean archetypes in our brain.
So what do we do about that, Peter? I mean, for those that are listening, they’re like, yep, I agree. However, I want to stay informed. And I feel like I got to watch, you know, maybe more than one episode of news in order to confirm what I’m hearing to ensure that I’m getting the right information.
So what are you suggesting to us?
So I’m going to ask you a hard question, Rodney. What is the value of being informed?
Well, it just depends on what the information is
and what’s what’s what’s the value in watching the national news?
Well, you could take action to be in in the know. So if there’s any action that you need to take, at least for me, I don’t personally watch the news, Peter. All right. So if you want to know my opinion, I just don’t because I feel like what I need to know, like it will get shared exactly
from some outlet either, you know, some you know, in passing someone. People that I know on my network. Like I’ll get the information that I need to know. The all the other stuff is just irrelevant to me.
That’s exactly right, Rodney. You hit my point right on. Right on the head. So I was one of those people, too. I was watching the news because I wanted to be informed what was happening in the world, because news matters.
But what you just said there is really important. It’s not actionable news. What is happening right now in Afghanistan, which is awful and horrible. What is happening in Africa right now? Awful. What was happening in China is I mean, there’s so many places around the world, there’s awful and terrible things are happening.
But those things I can’t do much more about. I mean, I wrote some checks to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. I wrote some checks and did those kinds of thing make some donations. But that doesn’t really affect me.
So what do I really need to know each day? Maybe the weather, maybe traffic. But I got apps for that. If there was an invading force off the coast of California, I would need to know that I might need some updates on the pandemic, you know, the changing conditions of that.
I might need, you know, a little about the drought here in California. Those are things that could actually make decisions on. Those are really the areas of my influence and the other stuff outside of that I can’t do anything about.
So there’s this cognitive bias, which is really an error in thinking that we think that when we are informed, when we know what’s going on in the world, that we are doing something we are not. So because you know what’s going on in the state of Texas, when you live in California, you know what Governor Cuomo did
in New York and you know all the ins of that. You think you are doing something, you are not doing anything. You are maybe better informed. But there’s lots of research out there to say the more news you watch, the more misinformed you are.
And so the nose, the news, the news, the actionable information you can really make decisions on. You can get off of apps. And then secondly, you’re obviously right. I find that people tell me you hear about. Now, what’s going on?
The exit is an absolute tragedy, tragedy. OK, great. A year from now, I’m going to read a book about it and get the inside detail that hasn’t been moral, morally divided for me. I just want to know the facts.
I mean, you know, I think people watch the news for purposes of knowing so they can have conversations. It’s a way of being social, being in the know and in the in crowd, if you will. Mm hmm.
But talk about that.
Yeah. I mean, if that’s important to you and that’s what you value. I particularly just don’t value being in the in crowd relative to that type of information, you know, because it’s not serving. It’s not productive.
It’s not constructive. It’s not it’s just.
So when I was watching the news, you know, 20 or 30 percent of my brain space, 20 percent of my time was going to focus on this information that was not moving my life forward. I wasn’t present for relationships.
I wasn’t being creative in problem solving. I wasn’t exercising and making myself better. I was just kind of fogging my mind with all this static. You’re absolutely right. All right. So let’s go back and talk. I want to touch on something you said there when you said about, you know, people want to be in the know
so they can have conversations. So what the book also goes into is are very tribal roots. So I like that. You know, I got a college degree. I’ve read 500 books. I listened to 5-10 hours of podcasts every week.
I like to think that I’m a learned civilized man. And the truth is, I’m every bit as tribal as I was 10000 years ago. So the real reason we talk about politics is just for that reason. It’s 10000 years ago.
You know, I may have painted my face green and you may have painted your face yellow. And if you and I came walking around a bend in the forest and we saw each other, I would go, oh, you’re not of my tribe.
I’m going to raise my spear and probably started yelling at you. We may have fought. We may have run off because you’re not of my tribe. And that’s all political conversations are today. I mean, very broad, very general here.
There are people who I’m sure have good conversations. I just haven’t seen them. So when we sit down to talk about politics, all we’re really doing is recycling the talking points that we hear on the news. So, you know, we hear kind of each side kind of pumps down their information, a little talking points, a little soundbytes
, and then we go, OK, well, I think the election was stolen. And I think another person goes, well, I think it was the freest and fairest election ever. It was the most secure election ever. And all each side is doing is repeating their talking points, which is the same thing, is either having a green face or having a
yellow face. And that’s why we lose our minds. So if you’re wondering why, you know, you’re just talking about sharing news, what you’re really doing is enacting a part of your brain, which is really ancient, very tribalistic. And that’s why those conversations are so worthless.
Well, help anything.
And you bring up a really good point about our tribal mentality, because it’s not it’s not as self-serving as it once was for us, if anything, at this point. It is putting us at a disadvantage. And the reason why I say that is because we don’t need that sort of.
Mentality any more in retrospect to the people that are around that are around us? You know, we are more diverse now than ever in history, and we’re going to it’s going to keep going, we’re not inclusive. And I think that’s because of that tribal mentality that we have.
It’s this us versus them mentality that’s causing a lot of division. And the idea that I have to protect my space and you’re not included in my tribe, and so you have to go over there and we have to make sure that we do everything to stay superior and blah, blah, blah, and on and on and on
and on and on. And that mentality at one time served us because it was a survival mechanism, because if you didn’t have that and you died. But now by we it’s totally flipped that we need each other to survive now.
Right. And we have to recognize that the mentality that that we’re, you know, taking with us from generation to generation is no longer serving us. So we have to break that down and we have to develop a different view and approach.
To the way that we see others in the way that we deal with others, even those that don’t look like us. Right. And so I think that’s an interesting point. And, you know, that’s my thoughts on it to expand that, because I think another thing that’s happening with all this political jargon that you hear about, I
me, you know, like the political parties and all these differences, you know, on this side. That’s all tribal mentality. It’s all tribal. Inclusivity, includes all. And so we need to, I think, begin to discover how can we, you know, govern or make rules and policy that are more inclusive versus.
You know, beneficial to one particular party or another, and that requires us to work together. Right. It’s not, you know, this party and that party and OK, then we come together and, you know, represent. It’s it’s how can we be inclusive from the beginning and begin from there?
Let’s start from that from that starting point. Let’s have that conversation.
You raised phenomenal points there, Rodney. So what it turns out is we as human beings are actually capable of being in more than one tribe at a time. So I can be part of my family. And I got a larger friend group and I got a work group that I’m part of.
And I may have a softball team and I’ve got a city and I got a state and I’ve got a country and I have the whole human race. And we are capable of actually being loyal to multiple different groups, multiple different tribes at the same point in time.
But the more news you consume, I mean, you use that word again, “Manichean.” Manichean is where it kind of demonizes and vilifies, and makes one side good, the other side evil. The more that happens to us, the more we objectify the people, which makes it.
We can’t include them anymore, because now they’re not human anymore. They’re they’re baby killers or they support that guy. They’re they are evil. And now it’s an us versus them. So what my book does and goes into great detail about is gives people pragmatic steps once again to put their loyalty where it really belongs most, which is
with the whole country, the United States of America, or more importantly, all of humanity. And when you start doing that and thinking that way first, you think humanity first or the country first and party second, third, fourth or fifth or none at all.
All of a sudden, you’re able to empathize before you criticize, you’re able to say, OK, what is really going on? Is it just what’s being fed to me by my hate newscaster at night is telling me these people are awful.
Are they really as awful as they say he is? And he says they are. I want to get in there, figure out things for myself, and really figure out how we can work together, because democracy, the only way it works is through empathy and compromise, my friend.
Yeah, I agree. What is the psychological effect of what you’re talking about here? Like it consuming the news and obviously being misinformed. You know, walk us through your philosophy on how this affects us.
So a couple of things. I was told as a kid that I really came to find out that are not true. And one of the things I was told as a kid is that we were bred to be happy.
We were born to be happy. And that turns out that is actually not true. We are by default, are anxious of fearful creatures. And how we know that is because we’re the ones who are still living. And what would happen?
What would have been the survival of the fittest if we were not the ones who were worried, anxious and worried about the lion around the corner or the tribe that may have came and killed us. We would have died off the ones who are too happy because they were too relaxed.
The ones who survived were the ones that were anxious. So that bit of knowledge is really helpful. It’s really useful because I think I felt weird sometimes because I felt so anxious. I thought, well, there must be something wrong with me that I’m naturally anxious.
So I’m always concerned, I’m always worried. Our brains are not built for happiness. Our brains are survival computers. And how we survive is by avoiding harm and death. So we are naturally programed to want to be alerted to things that might threaten us.
So the media, and when I say the media, I use that really broadly. So that does mean cable? Yes. Means the traditional ABC and NBC Internet, newspapers, magazines, articles, monitors on gas pumps and elevators. Any kind of content has figured that out, that we are a tribalistic, that we’re very anxious.
And it kind of taps into that and basically says, let’s pump these people full of more fear. And the more we become alert and aware and fearful. That’s actually very addictive. They discover that it’s an outrage and fear is addictive.
And so we will spend more time going back to the same water hole, getting our daily intake of fear and hatred and outrage. So when you realize that you’re being manipulated, when you watch the news. So I don’t watch any news like we talked about earlier there, Rodney.
And so I know that now. And I want to reduce my anxiety because I don’t want to be more present for my family and my relationships. I want to be working on solving problems, not just fomenting fear and anxiety in my own mind.
I’m going to sleep well at night. I want to be a better husband and a better father versus worry about things I have no control over.
Yeah. So what does your book sort of suggest that we do? How do we how do we flip the coin on this? What’s on the other side of all of this?
So kind of the heart of the book, believe it or not, is a topic called evolutionary psychology. And evolutionary psychology takes us back and helps us really understand our default settings, kind of our factory settings. And just because you realize your factory setting doesn’t mean that you’re beholden to it.
As soon as you realize that anxiety is your factory setting. You can actually you recognize that and you can change it. So the book really does a good job of helping people understand what are our default factory settings, what is going on in our brain, whether you’re a human being in the United States or in China or
in some isolated tribe down in South America somewhere, no matter what culture you are. What are the things that are common to us inside of our brains? Adobe now or 10000 years ago. And our brains haven’t changed, by the way, in the last 10000 years.
So that part is really important and it’s so empowering. What I’ve discovered is about an hour of evolutionary psych training is worth probably about a year of talk therapy, because as soon as you realize, oh, I’m not built for happiness, I am built to be in relationships, that’s a little bit different, but I’m built for anxiety.
Actually, we are built to be in relationship with one. And that’s very true too. As soon as we realize that we can’t take control of our life and we stop trying to fight the world the way that it is.
So that’s what a lot of what the book is about, is helping us understand those default settings. So we stop fighting against them and we stop having so much anxiety as our natural tendencies are mismatched with the world around us.
I’ve heard you mention we’re not built for happiness multiple times. Could you explain to the listeners what you mean by that?
Yeah. So we really again, we are built for survival. That’s how our brains have evolved, is to survive and be happy and relaxed in many circumstances. Would get you killed as a species about 200,000 years old. If you were happy and relaxed the wrong time, you would die.
So our brains are actually very, very alert. Just like when you watch TV and you see the zebras out there in the savanna and they’re kind of, you know, standing all there together and they’re all kind of chewing on grass and we’re going, oh, gosh, oh, well, they’re all relaxed now.
They’re very we’re very, very aware of the lion, just the lions just around the corner. And they’re ready to react. And our brains are built the very much the same way. We are constantly on guard for what kind of threats could be coming our way.
that’s. Are you suggesting that’s not a good thing?
Well, it keeps us alive. Keep us survived. And obviously, being anxious is not a good thing. So knowing that we’re kind of that’s our default mechanism and realizing it, first of all, you don’t have to go, what’s wrong with me?
That’s really a positive thing. So you’re anxious and stressed. You’re going, oh, my God, what’s wrong with me? I was built for happiness. No, anxiety is our natural state. The first thing is people can go, oh, I’m not defective.
No, you’re not defective. That’s our natural state. The next thing we can do is we can change the inputs into your life and then we can reduce your anxiety appropriately, because by and large, for most of us, we don’t live in a life or death situations every day.
I mean, probably the most dangerous things we do are probably driving in a car, but very rarely are we faced with life and death scenarios where we need to have that level of stress. So just realizing that and then reality is a construct.
Once we know that, we just change the inputs. We want to change the construct.
You know, I really. I teach on. In my game changing mentality system, the need to suffer, really. Whenever we find ourselves in that, in that. Fight or flight mode? That’s what I call it. Yeah, I think that’s a skill that we don’t we don’t teach that in school.
Many people don’t know how to do that. And so when when tragedy strikes, there’s some type of conflict or trauma, you know, that anxiety goes way, way, way, way up. Cortisol starts running through your body and it’s like, oh, my God.
But to combat that is the need to suffer badly. And that’s it. That’s a skill to be learned. It is, because it’s really the opposite of all of that. But it’s so necessary because it brings you back to a sense of calm and a sense of of of consciousness instead of being in a reactive reactionary mode.
And it allows you to think you’re not just going off and just reacting and, you know, executing behaviors that are not serving to you and potentially serving to others, because most of the time they’re out of fear, which is another reason why I don’t watch the news, because it causes you to feel and reacted in that way
. You can get very emotionally wrapped up in things and you’re manipulated. And so you need to think and react to certain things. So I think you’re spot on. I think you’re spot on, Peter. But I want to help people, right?
I want to I want to. What are the go-do’s for individuals? You know, like if there’s one or two takeaways from this book that you you want to get to people. What is that?
The book is, by the way, is just chock full of practical recommendations, and I’ll give a couple more here before the end of our podcast today. And one of them is this is don’t give any time or attention to any media media personality or a politician who demonizes another American.
So if you’re watching any kind of consuming any media or following any politician who is vilifying, demonizing, ridiculing, mocking, slandering, slurring another American, they are taking advantage of you. And that’s a hard one to swallow, because what they’re doing is they’re tapping some very, very ancient and tribal mechanisms inside of your mind.
They’re making you believe that the other party is a threat. They’re taking basically trust away from that other party and keeping it on to them. It’s called fear mongering. And what it does is it gives them more loyalty, gives them more attention.
It gives them more power. Now, if you go a war, why should I do that? Because they really are awful. I assure you, people who you think are awful are not nearly as awful as you think. There are some awful people in this country, and they are baby killer psychopaths who I hope most likely are in prison
. It’s a very, very, very small percentage of people who are really evil. They’re actually in this country or on this planet, very, very small number. So anybody who’s demonizing, vilifying another American, don’t consume them, because the only party who wins when we are fighting one another is really simple.
It is our enemies and our rivals that the world needs the United States leadership. They need us. We are leaders in having the most effective capitalistic system, economic system that’s ever been invented. I’m not saying capitalism is perfect, but it is the best system.
And it has looked at lifted more people out of poverty. We’ve had almost 80 years now of world peace without a major world war. That’s because of the United States and the pacts it actually has enacted around the world.
We are a beacon of hope and of light in all in the world needs us out there fighting for human rights, fighting against corruption in other countries around the world, making for progress on climate change. And we’re not there.
Do you know who wins Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the Taliban? All the more time we spend vilifying one another, our enemies and our rivals are the only ones who gain.
Absolutely. Totally agree. And thank you for your passion on this subject. How can people connect with you, Peter, if they want us to learn more about.
I hope you buy my book and I hope you buy my book, read my book and give it to a friend. It may look like a book about politics, and it kind of is. But what it really is, is a political self-help book.
And I assure you, every person who has read this book has walked away with practical ideas going. You’re saying exactly what I was feeling. I just didn’t know how to articulate it. It’s going to help people understand how their minds work better than they ever have before.
I want you to buy it, read it, and then pass it along to a loved one who, you know, who is stuck in the second civil war. Because of being in the second civil war is a choice. The battleground is not out there somewhere.
The battleground is in your mind. And the second you choose yourself off of the battleground, you just said I’m not doing it anymore. Your second civil war is so second. Civil war is not just hyperbole. It actually is.
A war is being fought in our minds. You can find my book on Amazon and also on Barnes & Noble, audio book, Softbound, Hardbound, Kindle, however you want to get it. Please buy it and pass along to our friend.
Awesome. Thank you, Peter, for coming on the show and sharing your insights with us on your book. Congratulations on the release. And yo man, I think. I think. This is something that we need in the world today. And I know just sitting there watching the news doesn’t help anything.
It’s action. It’s the right action, though, and it’s the right action backed by the right information. So I appreciate you writing the book and appreciate you taking the time to stop by it and share that with us today.
Oh, it’s always good being with you, Rodney. Thank you so much for having me. If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation.
My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family. Click the link in the description below.
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