Are we really at war???
In this video, Dan Lier talks with Peter Montoya about his latest book “The Second Civil War,” the current political division of America, the role of the media, and practical strategies that you can implement to help reunify the nation.
So, Peter, hey, I’m excited about this because I’ve known you for such a long time and I’m interested in the topic. So I’m just going to start off. I’ve written down some questions. I’m just going to start at the top, if that’s OK.
Perfect. So question is and you know, I talk to people all the time, and I feel like this is such a great opportunity for you, because most people are not happy with what’s going on, but they don’t really know why.
I mean, they can say it, they can say it. They’ll say, oh, you know, some people are mean or people are rude, or then or they’ll go party specific, like, oh, those Democrats or those Republicans, but we’re not getting anywhere.
So I think this is really fascinating. So what is this conflict all about? What are the dividing lines and why do you think we’re in a second civil war?
Great question. So there are two different types of war. There are hot wars and cold wars. Hot wars are fought with violence, whether it be guns or rifles or bats or machetes, where you’re committing violence or even genocide on one side.
And then there are cold wars and cold wars are everything that are not hot. And what I think we’re in right now, unlike our first civil war, our first civil war was definitely a hot civil war where 620,000 troops died and about 750,000 total Americans died in the first war.
We were right now in a war that’s largely cold. Last year, there were about thirty two deaths at riots or shootings or bombings last year, which is absolutely horrible. I haven’t seen the tally for this year, but it’s certainly happening right now as a cold civil war.
And how that’s being played out is largely at the social level. It is friend against friend, family member against family member or employer, employee against employee employee or something like that. How that looks like today is it looks like shaming, shunning an expulsion.
So the first thing is we will get into a political argument with somebody. And we, you know, tensions automatically ratchet. They get very, very quickly from you saying, well, yeah, I like to own guns. The other person going, oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re one of those people.
And all of a sudden we create this whole identity around you. We then start you might be shamed like you’re one of those people. I can’t believe you think that we question your morality or we question your loyalty.
So there’s the shaming, kind of like that threatening of like if you don’t change your behavior, I’m not going to be friends with you anymore. And then it quickly escalate into some version of shunning to expel where we go.
OK, well, you know, I’m defending you on social media or I’m not inviting you to my house anymore or I’m just not going to see you anymore. And the kind of war that’s being fought right now, it isn’t between two big armies.
I’ve called both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, and I’ve asked them each, do you want to annihilate the other party? Do you want the other party gone? And both parties have said absolutely not. We want to beat them at the ballot box.
But having at least two parties and probably more is in our national interest to have this kind of these war of ideas. So, no, we do not want the other party gone. And so this war is really being fought at the social level.
It is a social civil war.
Yeah. I mean, I well, I don’t know if I told you this or not, but I was having dinner with my kids when they were back home. And, of course, all the social discourse that’s going on. And I asked both of my kids, do you think we live in a racist country?
And they said yes. And so literally, my kids are looking at me in a way that they’ve never looked at me before because of the social battle lines, these artificial social battle lines that are out on a tick tock.
And Twitter and where they learn these things. So it’s very scary, Peter, because I mean, for the first time that I’ve seen and I think you’re hitting it right on the head there, first time I’ve seen it in my life that children and I say children, I mean, young adults are rising up against their parents and calling
them racists or whatever, you know, whatever they be. It’s crazy. And I and I.
Yeah, I’ll jump in and comment on that. But I think you’re absolutely right. And what I hear you saying, Dan, is you are expressing pain. And there’s no question there’s no question is the pain that almost all Americans are feeling right now to some degree.
And that is the civil war that we’re in, where we have children or parents or aunts, uncles or friends, where we feel we can’t talk to them anymore or we feel judged in some regard or disparaged. So, Dan, first of all, I’m really sorry.
Well, as part of the reason why I wrote this book is I heard all this pain happening from my friends. So let me talk just to that point right there. I don’t know who your kids actually called you racist.
No, they didn’t call me a racist. They didn’t call me a racist, but because they think the country is racist and you know, I’m a guy that was raised in the 60s and 70s, of course, to the young people. Now, you know, I’m a boomer.
Right. And so my kids are respectful. They don’t call I mean, they would never call me a racist. But just the fact that they think our country’s race, this is so crazy that all these people are coming into the racist country to be successful.
Hmm. So anyway, go ahead. I apologize.
So there is… it’s incredibly taboo in the country to use racist slurs. So I can’t even say the words because they’re so awful. But there are racial slurs for nearly every ethnic identity. And if I even use them right now, you would say, Peter, I can’t even talk to you because you use those words.
It’s very, very taboo to use those words. But what’s strange is, by the way, that’s bigotry. So we clearly recognize that bigotry. And but for most of us, we think that bigotry is using racist slurs. That’s not actually the definition of bigotry is the definition of bigotry is in my book or in the dictionary.
And what you’ll see is the definition of bigotry is to be intolerant against somebody else because of their beliefs or their opinions. Correct. So it’s actually much broader than just racism. Yeah. So every single time when we label somebody else a boomer, a Republican Repubtard, a libtard, you know, mag tard or any of the other
words that get thrown around. Those acts of bigotry are every bit as bad and ugly as racist bigotry. So for some reason, we’ve understood that we should not be a bigot in a racial sense, but we haven’t realized that political bigotry is equally as bad, is equally as toxic.
So even a word that sounds as timid as Boomer, as soon as you do that, you are othering somebody else. Yeah, that’s right. Okay. This person’s other than me. They’re different than me. So I used to believe that, you know, we need to have more tolerance and tolerance, isn’t it?
So tolerance is to basically to tolerate you. But you’re also mels. To be intolerant is to go, well, I can’t live with you. I can’t stand you. And there’s a lot of intolerance. So the goal is not tolerance.
The goal is actually inclusion. And my goal is to say, hey, you are my father, my brother, my compatriot, compatriot. I may not agree with you, but I respect who you are. And so rather than me putting you as other rather than me tolerating you is we are walking together on this journey.
Right. I mean, I it’s really interesting, because when you lay out that word, when you define bigotry, as you did, it’s ironic that the people that seem to point the fingers the most are the the biggest bigots. Well, let me let me let me pull that back a minute.
I’m interested to what you would say about this, and I agree with everything you said. But my belief is the people when I say that people I would say the Democrats or the Republicans, they’re not pushing the bigotry.
The media’s pushing the bigotry. And so how do we, Peter, in this second civil war, even if you and I are intelligent people and say you’re a Republican and I’m a Democrat and say we want to work things out, but you’ve got the media who, you know, Trump called him, you know, I don’t know what he called
enemy of the people.
There you go. It or something like that. And so. You know, if you say that, then of course you’re a racist. But anyway, you get my point. So what do you think about that? So you and I are different.
Let’s say we’re different political lines, but then we have the. But then we keep hearing the same old thing every day about this is evil. That’s evil and that’s racist. And this is, you know.
Yeah. What do we do? You’re absolutely right about that. So what we’ve forgotten as Americans is it is not Republican against Democrat, it is Republican and Democrat versus our collective problems. So currently right now, the Civil War, what it’s really about is about power.
It’s about I want my side to beat your side, annihilate your side at any cost so that we have power and we win. It really isn’t about solving our problems. Right. Winning media, as you are accurately mentioning, is absolutely horrible.
Horrible. I stopped watching the news, I think it was in January or February this year, and I cannot tell you how much better I feel. And the reason being is it really is OK to go out and fight for ideas.
It’s not only a responsibility, not only you’re right, but a responsibility. Yes. It is American to go out and fight for fight, fight for what you believe in and to voice your opinion. Here’s the distinction that I would plead, though, because you do have the first American first.
First of all, it right to violate my request. I really think it’s OK for you to go out and fight ideas, but we’re going to stop fighting each other. So it’s not OK in my book and this is just me, I have no more authority than my opinion will follow.
I don’t think it’s OK to attack other Americans. And every single time that we label slander, vilify, objectify another American. There is really only one winner. And that winner, that winner are our enemies. So there is no one happier from the last five to 12 years in our American politics than Russia, China, Iran, North Korea.
No one could be happier to watch us fighting ourselves, not moving our country forward, so busy fighting ourselves that they’re pretty much running. They’re running the board in their respective areas. So when you attack another American, literally, not figuratively, our enemies are the ones who gain.
They could be not happier to see us attacking one another.
Yeah. When I read that in your book, Peter, that really hit me. That really did hit me because I never thought about it that way before. And I’m convinced that most people haven’t either. And I thought that was powerful, because if if if we could get people to think that way, that we are harming our country and
helping other countries by ridiculing or demeaning other people, I think that would be a huge step for us. So I love that. And I think, you know, as a guy who’s been around successful people my entire life, I think when you break things down to the, you know, the first step issues, if you will, if you look
at it from a granular perspective or, you know, people that study physics, you know, they call it a first principle approach, right? Way over my head. But they talk about the first principle approach. And that’s it is is being nice to the people around you and realizing that when we’re cutting down other people, we’re actually
helping our enemies. That would be a huge step.
Right. We’ve heard the phrase that, you know, we’re tearing apart the social fabric and we hear that. Yes. But we don’t realize what it means. And what it means is all those little connections. One of our superpowers as a country is optimism.
And right behind optimism is cooperation. And that we have found the ability to cooperate with people that we disagree with, which forwards in the best interests of us as two people and us as a country. And so the more we keep tearing apart these familiar or friend or employer employee relationships, the less likely we are to connect
and actually hear each other out and cooperate. That is hurting our ability to cooperate, to solve big problems.
I love that. I’m writing that down. Am I interviewing you or are you interviewing me because I’m writing this down right now, optimist optimism. And what was that? Cooperation. There you go. Yeah. That’s why I always had to have a tutor, Peter.
All right. So I love that. And I think that would be a great place to start. So who’s causing the Second Civil War? Is that the Democrats or the Republicans? What do you think are the dividing lines?
Good question. So the first civil war was really clear cut. It was around fate, sorry, federal versus state powers and about slavery, it was a clear cut. And if you asked most people right now, A, what is a civil war over, they say the following.
The other side is crazy. I can’t live with them. They’re terrible. They’re awful and a bunch of other slanders. But there really is no one clear dividing line. There’s no one policy issue. And I laid out in my book, when you poll Americans on policy issues and both Pew and Gallup, which are very respected, completely apolitical polling
agencies, they go out and poll people about gun control, minimum wage, immigration and even something as divisive as abortion. What they find is when you ask about which side you’re on. So, for example, they ask, you know, are you pro-gun or anti-gun?
It’s about 50/50. But then when you ask the question, do you think there should be universal background checks? Should they ban people from certain flights who have been marked? It’s like 70 percent agreement. Yes. Yes. When you ask people about tribes, we’re very, very divided.
When you ask people about issues, there’s wide agreement. Yep. And that’s why one of the subjects of my book is this is the stupidness. Civil war is completely idiotic. Dan, you have done a ton of leadership training and consulting management leadership and consulting.
Can you imagine going into an organization and let’s just say, I don’t know, sales and customer service are absolutely at their throat. Can you imagine going into the meeting of the salespeople first and saying, tell me all the things that are bad about the customer service people?
Oh, yeah, they’re awful. All they’re terrible. Absolutely. The worst thing ever. Then you go over to the customer service department and say, can you tell me all the bad things about the salespeople and agreeing with them and getting them both frothy, angry?
Is that even in the remotest part of your brain what you would do? No. You would go in and affirm probably the facts. OK, what’s going on right now? Where is sales? What are the problems? You would affirm our identity that we all have the same goal, which is maximizing either sales or the certain revenue amount.
And then you would go to each side and go, OK, listen, we know what our goal is. We know we both have some problems. What are you willing to do to make this better? And you go to each side and have go, here’s what I will do.
Here’s we’re willing to give a take. And you get them focused on the positive outcome. And to your point earlier about the media, all the media does is sit there and stoke the fire about how awful and terrible the other side is.
That is no way to help resolve anything.
Yeah. And I believe I don’t know what you believe that I believe that both of the sides, both medias are not factual in their reporting. So it’s all hyper, hyper stuff. That’s most of it’s not true or is part partially true.
And so they just opt what they call it when they sensationalize it is the word
I’m looking for. Yeah. So here’s how bad the media is. And the media is really bad when I say media. By the way, let me define what that means. That includes social media. So Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all the rest of them.
It includes radio, it includes television, it includes Internet television. It includes podcasts, it includes magazines, newspapers, any kind of online. So I say media. It’s broad. And now I’m going to make some a couple of generalizations. And this is not true about every single one.
But in general, this is true. Here is the devil’s bargain that we made about 20 years ago, about 20 years ago, with the advent of the Internet, more and more information was becoming free online. But in the end, the newspapers and cable stations came to us, and I don’t know if you remember this and asked us to
pay for it. They said, hey, I’ll buy a subscription. And we all said, Why? I can get it for free online. And so we stopped paying for objective. You might remember up until the mid 80s or early 1990s, the two most important characteristics in any news network was trust.
And first, we wanted the most trustworthy news station who gave us the news first. Now, that is not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for free. We’re looking for immediate. And we’re looking for sensational. Truth is no longer part of the value proposition that we as Americans or most of us are looking for anymore.
So we said we’re not going to pay for subscriptions. And so what magazines, newspapers, cable are all going to do is basically said we’re going to sell more advertising. How do we sell more advertising? Make it more and more sensational?
What is the easiest way to make it sensational? It’s tribalism. It’s vilify another group, make us make us afraid of that other group. And what they discovered is both outrage and fear are actually addictive. So there are people unknowingly who get out every single day at five or six, 30.
They click on the same channel to get their basic shoot up, their daily dose of outrage porn. They are addicted to it and they can’t not have it if they didn’t have it. They would start getting kind of itchy and scratchy.
Like what isn’t isn’t the guy on? I gotta go watch my guy. They would feel like that that actually is addictive. So the media literally, not figuratively, says the best way for us to sell more ads is more eyeballs.
The best way to get more eyeballs is more fear and outrage by demonizing the other side. Not all the media, but a lot of the media is profiting by us going after one another. That’s how bad much of the media.
I mean, I generally agree with what you say, but I want to push back on something, because I, I feel like what I heard you say is that truth is not valued by that. But my belief is that each individual has their own truth and they’re looking for truth and they think they have the truth.
I mean, I don’t. You said that people are looking for sensationalism or whatever, whatever the three things you said, but you said truth is not a part of that equation. I. That it is, but they feel like hypothetically, if I dial into Fox News every day because that’s where I get my juice, that is truth to me.
So, I mean, you know, there are people if you ask somebody what their truth is. Right, that is their truth in the world. You know my truth. If I if I’m somebody that watches Fox News, maybe then I’m put in that Republican pigeonhole.
And you know what Democrats are are stupid. And, you know, that’s that’s my truth. And Pelosi is irresponsible and she’s a crook. That’s my that’s my belief. Right. And then, of course, if you watch CNN, then, of course.
Well, anybody that watches Fox is a racist. All right. So so anyway, I agree. You tune in to the station that gives you that that juice that you’re addicted to. But I believe that it’s their truth, Peter. It’s our truth.
So, I mean, I don’t know, you know, what does that say? There are? Because if there is no truth, people I mean, people are just lost.
So the very first presentation you and I learned, you know, 25 years ago, it was in that presentation was perception is reality. Yeah. Which is another way articulating what you just said here, which is it’s my truth. And yes, I still stand by.
What I said is if you give people a choice of a station that confirms what they already believe. Yes. A station that gives them facts that may or may not. They will choose the station that confirms what they already believe.
All day long. Every day. Yeah. There are right now Internet channel’s Internet pages of books that will give them absolute factual information, which is more accurate than their current reality is. But they do not choose it. So I’m not saying that I think facts are among the most important thing in the world.
I mean, all leadership, all problem solving, all creativity all starts with a common agreement on what the facts are. You can’t do anything unless you have that. So I think facts are very important, but it’s not currently with the American population, populist, populist values.
What they value most is having somebody confirm what they believe is true and believe in facts are independent of one another. They’re two different things. So right now I could believe completely with all my heart that there is an actual man who lives in the North Pole and who magically gives presents to everybody.
Just because I believe that is true and it is true in my head. Is it a fact? No, no, not right now. Dan, I have some batteries in my hand. How many batteries do I have in my hand?
I don’t know. You don’t know. But it is a fact that I’ve got two batteries. But you had no belief. So beliefs and facts are actually independent of one another. And what I do every day when, by the way, I have no monopoly on the truth.
My reality is equally as warped and distorted as everybody else. The only thing I’ve got going for me is this is every morning I wake up and I go half of what I believe is not true. Let me find at least one thing that is wrong.
And the second thing is, all of my knowledge and all of my beliefs are temporary, pending new information. So I put everything in a tentative box until I get new information. And even that information is tentative. I really don’t fall into the trap of believing what I think.
Well, that’s that’s bogus. Yeah. I mean, obviously, you’re light years ahead of many. One of the things that over the pandemic, I did a lot of research and a lot of reading. And one of the psychologists I listened to, we talked about that is that most people actually believe their own thoughts.
And just because you think it doesn’t make it true. But anyways, I’ve got another question for you. I’ve got I’ve got friends that just, you know, they stop talking to other friends, as you well know. How should we talk to someone we disagree with politically?
It’s a great question. And I once again, that was one of the reasons why I wrote this book is I too behaved very badly. Five and six years ago. And I realized what I was doing and I wanted to find out why I was behaving the way I was behaving.
You know, why was I shaming my friends? Why would I get outraged by their political opinions? Why would I attack them? I’ve done all these things. So I’m not in any way saying that I’ve got the magic answer and then I’m better than anybody because I’ve lived it.
So first number one is don’t have political conversations. Now, we’ve been taught that from a very, very early age. I’m going to give you a different reason of why you shouldn’t talk politics. We buy this once again. This is a massive generalization.
I make a lot of generalizations in my comments. If it doesn’t apply to you, it doesn’t apply to you. But by and large, 99 percent of the time when I’ve had a political conversation or I’ve seen a friend having a political conversation, it is not a conversation.
About deliberating over the issues. Hey, what do you think about that? Oh, I can learn from that. I get some more information. Hey, this this problem solved. I’ll be your your idea partner. And today, you and I will both educate each other and get more empathy.
And together, we’ll come to a better solution. That’s not what’s happening, right? All we are doing is basically identifying our tribe. So I’m 52 years old. I’ve read twenty five books a year. I’ve listened to thousands of hours of podcasts.
I like to think that I am somehow civilized and evolved, that I am somehow better than my very, very ancient Neanderthal lizard brain. And the answer is I’m not. There are tons of what are called subconscious strategies that run us in they’re beneath the surface.
Yep. Probably the most powerful one there is, is tribalism. So we are the reason we believe what we believe when it comes to politics and social social issues is we believe to belong we’re a herd animal. And if you want to be a member of a herd, the most important rule is assimilate.
So if you are in a herd and everyone’s got stripes on, you have stripes on, too, so you are assimilated into that pack, whatever it might be. We have, you know, kind of our our visual tribal identifiers might be our glasses and our shirt.
And we maybe we might take what we went to college or what party you belong to. And we have these kind of visual ones. Right. I large what we do. Oftentimes, we look at people. We start having these very we’re very, very visual people, both men and women.
And we have kind of a way of so many people up. Look at that. They’ve got a streak of purple in their hair. OK. Yeah. First American flag on their back. Oh, I think it’s an eagle pin. OK, I got them.
It happens just like that. So we all say, oh, I’m not judgmental. Sure you’re not right. There’s not a person listening to this or watching us today who has not walked into a cocktail party or walked into a networking meeting, looked around the room and said, hey, that’s not my person.
That might be my person. I might talk to them. And that is the representation of your tribalism. Yeah. You are looking for people that you belong with. Yeah. That’s who we believe gives us safety. So for us to go against our tribe, whatever the belief might be, because each tribe has kind of their own belief set
and they’re almost all identical and they have some nuances. But you’ll find most conservatives kind of folks around here. And most liberals kind of focus around here. They have kind of the same beliefs set. And if you were to be among your group and be pro-gun when everyone else is anti-gun, they will shame you and you will very
quickly assimilate. So you belong to that group. So when we have a quote unquote political conversation, we’re not really talking about politics. We’re talking about the news du jour. So this last week, Simone Biles decided to quit in the middle of the Olympics.
This was for some reason was politicized. I totally
was. It totally was.
I don’t have any idea why we all of a sudden made this into a moral issue of good or bad or patriotic or not patriotic or selfish or generous. Each side kind of had these different talking points, these little phrases that they used, if you were to ask me about that.
Hey, tell me about what you think about this, what you’re looking for. I used the same talking points that you heard and you believe in if I use the same talking points. It is the same thing of me having a big giant biker biker gang badge on me that says I’m in the same tribe you
are. It just happens to happen verbally. So political conversations are not discussions about empathy or how to get to know each other. All we’re doing is saying, are you on my side? And if you’re not on my side, there is still the ancient part in our midbrain, the amygdala that actually fires off and says this person’s an
enemy and I need to shame them, shun them or get them out of my tribe. So when you have been shamed or when you have shamed somebody else and said, I can’t talk to that person, that is your ancient biology, your tribalism firing off if you think that you’ve evolved beyond your tribalism.
Very well said. Very well said. Wow. It’s I think a lot of people are really going to enjoy this book. You know, I what’s most fascinating to me is that when you address something called patriotism. Right. So what’s interesting to me is I well, I’m going to go back for just a second and then I’m going to
come here. So you talk to. I’ve got a I’ve talked to many, many people, especially people that are older than me, so I’m 58 years old now and I’m considered, you know, if you talked to a twenty five year old, I’m you know, I’m old.
But as you get older, as you well know, it just seems different. Now, the older people to me are the people in their 60s and 70s who used to be boomers to me. And so anyway, the point that I’m getting to is they’re from the older generation.
They don’t have as many options in their head. So when I talk to my Uncle Paul, who’s probably seventy eight years old, and every day he’s pissed off and every day he watches Fox News and every day he watches CNBC.
I say, Paul, you know that a lot of that’s not true, right? He goes, yeah, yeah. I said, Paul, but you continue to watch it, right? Yeah. Yeah. So like Paul, you know, I give him some suggestions. I said I’m some independent news sources that I watch.
But like you said, he’s addicted. He’s addicted. So he keeps going back to make himself feel like shit. And so, you know, it’s just nothing more. It’s it’s the same thing from my perspective. Peter is being in a bad relationship.
You know, you actually don’t know what to do in those those those nerves aren’t fired. You’re not getting that that feeling from your brain into your body. And so it’s a tough it’s a tough move. You know, when the pandemic shut down.
Jennifer and I, we also disconnected and we don’t watch any television. And it’s been a good thing. You know, I thought that I could actually control the news cycle, but I couldn’t. So I let it go. That’s been great.
So anyway, back to my my question about patriotism. You wrote in the book The Second Civil War. You wrote a chapter which excuse me, I haven’t seen anybody else talk about because I read through it and I was fascinated because I didn’t think about it in that respect.
And you wrote it and you talked about meditations on patriotism. Can you tell me some more about that?
Yeah. So thank you for asking that. It was a kind of a courageous chapter for me to write in. The reason there is I don’t have any more of a right to talk about patriotism than anybody else. It’s really only my opinion.
So there is no definitive list of here’s what makes a patriot. And if you’re not it, you’re bad. So as I’m sharing my thoughts on patriotism, they really are just my thoughts. So I found most descriptions about patriotism to be vague, lofty and not particularly helpful.
Here’s one such
definition. Hey, can I interrupt you for a minute, Peter, because here’s why I thought this chapter was so amazing. So right now, in the in the current state of affairs in our country, when you say that I’m a patriot.
Obviously, they think you have a red hat on and you have a gun in your back pocket. Right. And that’s because of the news cycle. Perception is reality. That’s that’s what I see. So I’m when I read your chapter, it actually gave me hope because there were some actually tangible, tangible things that people could think about.
Because if you if you read just like you said, when you when you when people poll about, what do they really think about defunding the police or things like that, most people are on the same place. And if people read your vows, I think most people and one is only one over half, that’s most.
But I think it would be like 75 percent of the people would agree with those things. Wow. Thank you. So anyway, go ahead.
Big step there, but it’s really, really helpful. All right. So here’s a definition that I’ve read about patriotism. Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion and sense of attachment to a homeland and an alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment.
Yeah, I clearly understand what that means, but it doesn’t really help me all that much in telling me what I should do or how I should act. Right. What I think about patriotism and once again, this is my definition, completely subjective.
I think that that patriotism really is about love. So love is three different things. It is a decision. It is a feeling. But more importantly, I think its actions. Everyone who is a parent, at some point in time, maybe, maybe subconsciously, but makes a decision going.
I love my kid. I love my kid, and usually followed by some very, very powerful feelings which are actually hardwired into us that we go. You know, I’ve got such affection for these people for this this young life.
And I will do anything to protect them, even at the expense of my own. And that’s my own life, or it’s another place where we’re hard wired. We will sacrifice ourselves so our children survive. But more importantly, to me, love is really about behaviors.
So if I was a parent and I said, I love my kids, I got two kids, I love my kids, I had this warm feeling toward my kids. But then I didn’t back it up with the behaviors. I didn’t spend time with them.
I didn’t take them to school. I wouldn’t pay for their housing. I wouldn’t pay for their education. I wouldn’t pay for them their meals. And I didn’t have any of the actions that actually followed up this decision and this behavior.
Dan, as an outside observer, would you say that I really love my kids? No, no. And I would agree with you. So for a lot of people, this is just my observation. They say they love our country. And to me, that really is about pride.
Like they’re just so proud of the country. This national entity that rivals people who I’ve talked to who say they love the country is they usually hate half the people in it. And that doesn’t really make sense to me because we think about what the country really is ensure it’s this amazing piece of land.
Got that? It is our institutions and our constitutions and it is our troops. But the mass part of the country is the people in it. So how can we hate half the people in it and still love the country?
That doesn’t compute with me. Well, you might say, well, half the country isn’t behaving very well. Well, I will tell you the first lesson of any kind of therapy you might go to on any relationship, and that’s this.
You can’t change them. All you can do is change yourself. So until you are absolutely maxing out all of the self reflection and all the things that you can do differently, you don’t really get the right to criticize a whole a whole lot else.
And once again, I hope you’re attacking ideas and not people. I love that. So and next thing is, love, once again is not really about the benefit to you. So, you know, I love my kids. It gives me a warm feeling to say I love my kids.
But really the benefit of my love is my kids. So to love something or to be patriotic to something is to incur a cost for their benefit, to incur a cost. So the fact that I love my kids means I’m going to spend about three hundred and fifty thousand dollars per kid getting them from the time they
were born, getting through college. It means I spent thousands of hours, thankless hours and raising my kids equally as bad as I was to them. So to love something else is really about a pledge to I don’t I’m careful about using the word sacrifice because the word sacrifice seems to imply death.
That’s all it means, like the sacrifices you die for the country. But it isn’t all the other things. I really believe that every time you stop at a red light, that is incurring a cost. Every time you pick up trash, every time that you turn down the music so it doesn’t bother your neighbors, you’re incurring costs for
people around you that don’t really benefit you. So love. And patriotism is not about the pride you get to feel. It’s about a pledge and then actually following through on doing things for the benefit of others at a cost to you.
Yeah. So when I read that, that was like that was a that was a really mind opener for me, because I never I never thought about it in that respect. So because when you said, you know, when you stop at a red light, you’re incurring a cost.
Right. Obviously, I had to think about that and say, well, what do you mean by that? And so, yeah, I mean, there’s a cost and everything. So I think that’s a real obviously a literal way to put things that nobody’s ever thought about, you know?
Yeah. No one’s ever thought about that. So I think I think that’s I think that’s incredible. Thank you. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s incredible again. You know, when you back it down to the simplest steps, Peter, that would be a great step to ask.
So you and I both done a ton of value training. Where you go, what what are your values? You know, what? How do you hope to behave? How do you hope to behave when you’re out in the world?
You go, I hope people call me responsible and kind and honest. And we’ve kind of done that self-assessment. I want to behave this way. I want to be valued this way. If you think about every single one of those, every single one of those is a cost that you pay for the benefit of others.
So you’re saying, well, I mean, responsibility is a cost. I pay for somebody else. Yeah. It means you clean up your mess, that you accept your mistakes and you fix your side rather than blaming somebody else. That is a cost that you pay every time you are honest and basically go, OK, well, you know, it’s legal to
do this thing. But is it right now it’s not really right for me to lie to my customers. And you’re going to tell my customers the truth, which means they’re going to grind me on price, OK? I’m incurring costs.
That’s going to benefit somebody else. So values, which we are really important. Every single value is about how we benefit other people, not benefit ourselves. Yeah.
Yeah. So just a point of discussion, Peter, as I was listening to you explain that, I thought about you could you know, it’s a cost, right. As a cost, but it also could be an investment. You know, even though those words are totally different.
Yeah, I think that could be the same.
Yeah. So, Dan, when you are honest on a regular basis, what is the investment you’re making, which I agree with you. I’m not going to let you.
Oh, I get it. I get it. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it can be termed in both ways, you know, depending on how you want to look at it. Yeah.
So when you were honest, for example, not only are you setting the example, but not only are you saying to the other party, is that I am vested in being in this relationship, so I’m going to take this short term cost, which means I have to lower my price or do some extra work to make things right
because I want a long term investment. Exactly. I want you to trust in me that I will do the right thing by you and therefore will be around for a long time. I get it.
I get it. Yeah. I mean, if I if I’m having issues with my wife, Jennifer and I are getting along and she says, hey, I don’t like the way you’re treating me or I’m not feeling, you know, I’m not feeling valued.
And I make a change that’s a cost that I have to sacrifice some of my, quote unquote, selfishness or whatever.
You can’t watch the basketball game. You have to turn it off and, you know, have dinner with your wife instead. It’s all about
cost. But it’s an an obviously an investment in my future. So, yeah, I see it that way. Very interesting. So I’d love to hear. Give me another one of your… you have some vows, right? Yeah.
I’ve got 11 vows. And so I’ll read them both the headline in the body and Dan, jump in I’ve got very little feedback on these. And they really are. It’s it’s hard to write these. It really
is. It I went through them and I put some thought to it. So I’ve got some thoughts for you on that.
All right. So, vow number one, I vow to vote. Voting is not only my right, but the most powerful instrument of our democracy. I will be informed and always vote supporting what is in the interests country’s best interests rather than my own.
Yeah, that’s powerful. That’s powerful. Well, I mean, that’s that’s great for for many reasons. As you know, there’s many people out there that are complaining and moaning about everything. And you say, who did you vote? And they say no.
So now here’s what’s interesting. I don’t know if you’ve ever done any research on Socrates or not, but Socrates was jailed and he was stoned to death because he was caught up in, you know, basically what’s happening right now.
He got shunned by the other side. So anyway, he has an interesting thought. We all look, we most of us don’t know who Socrates is, but because we say his name, people respected as one of the great thought leaders in the world.
But it was interesting to me that he wrote a piece that he thought that democracy was a bunch of B.S., quite frankly. And what he meant by that, Peter, which I found fascinating, is that he felt like most people aren’t qualified to vote.
Mm hmm. And you heard this.
I think that everyone should be allowed to vote.
Yeah. So what about the the analogy he uses and I don’t know the words he used because it was back in the Times, but he had a word for how you captain a ship across the country. You know, said if you were going to hire a captain to get your goods across the country, you know, who would
you hire? Would you hire someone who knows the most about seaworthiness or would you hire the most popular person? Right. Right. And so that’s you know, that’s wrong. So the people that go to the voting booths right now.
Are not qualified to vote. Right. They don’t understand what’s going on. So you’ve got a bunch of idiots that are clicking the voting based on what TikTok says. So it’s it’s kind of a scary thing. I like it because I vowed a vote.
If you don’t vote, you shouldn’t be able to talk about the challenges that are going on. But I also feel like there should be an asterisk by that as well. I have vowed to vote only. I mean, I feel like people should go through an education before they get to vote.
But of course, that’s never going to happen. We’re way past that. But I like that.
So sorry. Socrates is not wrong. Democracy is absolutely the worst form of government, except when compared to all the others. Well, that’s
right. That’s exactly
right. It is incredibly messy, incredibly volatile. And we’ve looked over. We’ve all taken American history and we’ve all seen these passages in the past. We go, oh, my God, that was horrible. Oh, my God, that was terrible. And we kind of thought, those are all behind us.
No, we’re still in all those gyrations that happen in democracies. It’s a very, very messy, turbulent form of government. But it’s still the best one we’ve got so far.
Yeah, I like it. All right. What else you have? Number two,
I vow to be inclusive. Unity is the very price and condition of our survival. And realizing such, I will support advance in value all Americans. It means in a long, short, we’re going to stop othering anybody else and stop tolerating people.
Everyone is a co American and we see them as such, which is really hard for us. By the way, we’re not wired that way. We’re about to be in small tribes about one hundred and fifty, one hundred fifty people.
So it’s hard for us to look at somebody we don’t know in another state and really believe and trust that they are actually in the same contract that we are in the same contract is is that, you know, I’m gonna do my very, very best.
And if I have fallen down on the unemployed or injured or ill. Please help me but know that I’m going to get on my feet as soon as I possibly can contribute back to the same national contract and help out where I can.
And that’s easier for us to do with people we know. And it’s really hard for us to do with three hundred and thirty other three hundred and thirty million other people we don’t know. But that is the contract that we all got to get back to.
Yeah, I like that. I like that third one.
I vow to be nonviolent. Violence creates a vicious cycle of vengeance. That’s nearly impossible to end. Protest is an American value, but protest should always be peaceful. Violence may only be deployed as a means of defense and only as a last resort.
We are incredibly vengeful, resentful people. And so as a people, that means every human being, we’re hard wired this way. And so when we feel that someone has wronged us, we want revenge. We want a pound of flesh.
So what every good government has, every good system does, is they create systems of accountability. And the accountability is done by a third party. It has clear rules. It has people who have taken an oath to actually uphold those accountability systems.
And it usually slows things down. So our legal system is expensive and painful. Everyone says so, but it also is the crown jewel of legal systems around the world. It’s one of the many reasons we have a large economy in the world is that anybody who’s wronged usually feels that justice will eventually be done.
And yeah, I know of lots of stories where justice was not done, but on a whole. This system works so much better than being right in the singing days of the Wild West.
I like that. I like that.
Next, I vow to empathize before I criticize a fellow American. I will seek first to understand their experience, especially in moments of anxiety and strain. I will strive to be kind, generous and considerate.
That’s a good one. I love that. That would be great if we could all adopt that one
I vow to compromise. I recognize that compromise is the price of cooperation. I will yield my own interests as necessary for the greater good. We’ve also lost that one. We think that fighting for what we believe in and not compromising is doing is patriotism.
That’s not so you. Every single human being can only have one primary allegiance. So my primary allegiance is to my country. If your primary allegiance is to your party before the country, that is by definition unpatriotic. You can’t have both.
So I really implore upon everybody to have their first allegiance to the country more than their party.
I vow to be truthful, deceit is the ultimate threat to our union. I will actively curate what I believe based on facts and never deceive another for my own benefit. That’s a tough one, that is a tough one. I know.
Yeah, I guess when I when I hear you say that, I mean, to be truthful is easy to understand. Right. But where it gets tricky for me is that many people, including myself, obviously, you know, you have certain truths that you believe are true.
And so you can be truthful to those truth.
Yeah, I think as long as somebody is actually intending that, that’s great. I think what is happening right now is most politicians and most media are not doing that. There are many things they know are not true just for either making more money, getting more followers, getting more likes, getting more clicks.
They’re doing the opposite. So if you sincerely believe it’s factual. Great. But as soon as you start spinning things just to make it be what people want to hear. And further inflame people. That’s where you have a problem with me.
Yeah. And I guess I’m getting I guess I’m pulling it back to the media side because I feel like it’s not the people. I’m talking to somebody across the street and there and there. They don’t like me. It’s, you know, oftentimes just because of what they think about me, because of what the media says.
I guess that’s what I’m saying, is that I can be totally on board and totally American. And I and I vow to be truthful. And and I put a flag on my front porch and someone across the street starts shooting it.
And, you know, I just. Anyway, go ahead. I think it’s it’s the problem that I have is just you’re right. And I feel like it starts with the politicians and the media
that does it. But also we can stop it, too. I mean, at any moment you decide every single person can stop watching the news. And I promise you, I stop watching this. I’m still informed. In fact, the people who watch more news are usually more have more misinformation.
I’d much rather be ignorant than misinformed. There’s no question about it, because when you’re ignorant, new information comes in. You’re not sitting there fighting with your existing beliefs. Correct. Trying to see what’s at reconciled, which is right. Yeah, I much rather be ignorant and I promise you, people tell you, people just mentioned, hey, did you know this?
And we go, oh, OK. They do. I can go read about that one thing. And I don’t have to know about every single machination that happens day in and day out. It doesn’t matter that much to my well-being.
It actually corrupts my mind. So why? There’s no benefit to it.
Yeah, I totally get it. I love it. All right.
Well, I vow to contribute my share. I know I put the word Mike, but I’m a go will. I will never fully agree with how our government spends money. But taxation’s taxes sustain the institutions and infrastructure of our democracy.
I will pay my fair share and advance my grievances to my representatives.
That’s awesome. And that would put you in a position to actually do some research and put it in the right representative. I think that would be great.
Yeah, I kind of like this one. And the reason was when I started thinking about it, I’ve looked at my own budget, my personal budget and my business budget. And I went through and did this exercise about what percentage of the spending I didn’t agree with.
Like I spent the money and I went through. And this was waste. This was waste. It was about 20 percent. I’m a personal level and my business is the money that I chose to spend that I didn’t agree with.
So, yes, you’re not going to agree with what the federal government spends. I’m with you. I have my grievances, too. But I dare you to look at your own budget. And fine, if you don’t see at least 20 percent that you don’t agree with the money, that you spend it’s just part and parcel of being human and
the nature of money.
I like that perspective. That’s a good one.
I vow never to disparage. It is my right to criticize ideas, policies and actions. And I will not mock, attack, demonize, smear, ridicule or vilify another American. I will fight for my ideas, but I will not fall victim to hate.
That’s awesome. I love that. I got nothing to say except for good stuff about that. Thank you.
I vow to put children first, every child which will go up to age 18 or so. Every child should have health care, education, child care, nutrition and access to developmental activities. I agree with that. I got a real soft spot for kids.
And yeah, I know a lot of parents are screw ups and did not provide their kids what they should. I understand that. But I not only think it’s a moral issue to make sure that kids have food in their stomachs and are free from violence, have education and health care, I think it’s in our country’s best interest.
I agree it cost 30 some odd thousand dollars a year to imprison somebody. If we spent near a fraction of that much covering up, making sure that every child in America. How these things. Well, we I’m guessing we more than reap the benefits on the on the backside.
Plus, we have more educated, ready workers to help us cooperate better to solve problems. So I’m willing to pay more in taxes if the children are taken care of.
And that’s just me personally. I like it. I like it.
I vow to do my duty no matter what my role, whether parent, teacher, first responder, worker, student or citizen. I will fulfill my obligations, keep my oath and never impede another’s ability to do the same.
I love that. I think that’s a great, great thing for everybody to do.
It happened as public officials being doxed and threatened and harassed when they were just doing their jobs. It’s crazy. Yep. And last I vow to take responsibility as a human. I am bound to make mistakes, but I will own my blunders, apologize and make restitutions.
I will not obscure, repudiate or deflect my mistakes on somebody else. Laughs. I’ll say the central notes notion of patriotism is not pride, but vowing to contribute without expectation of return.
I like that. I like that, I mean, how many of those vows did you write, Peter?
All of them. How many? I wrote all of them.
No, I mean, how many are there? Sorry. 11. 11? Yeah, I mean, I think those are tremendous, I think. I mean, your book is fantastic. But I like those vows because they were action oriented. And I read them and I thought.
I can do all 11 of those. And they were realistic. I could definitely do it and it would make me a happier person. You know, it’s a lot of work. I was talking to my wife about this. There’s a lot of work.
It’s a lot of work to to to watch and judge what other people are doing. It’s a lot of work to correct other people. It’s a lot of work to be involved in other people’s business rather than your own business.
And so that’s something I’ve had to work on, quite frankly. And these are great. So way to go. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah.
I think it was it was really nicely said. I really appreciate
that. But I do have one question for you. You know, you have a nice vocabulary. I’d like to ask you and all the listeners, what does the word machination
mean, machination? It’s kind of like if you were watching a boxing match and you go, well, Muhammad Ali beat blank in the third with a an uppercut. The machinations is all the jockeying, all the things that happened in the meantime, getting up to that final thing.
So it’s all the sparring and the ups and the downs of small trials and tribulations. And much of the news is kind of spilled out that way. AOC said this and Mitch McConnell said this. But then on the day, the bill didn’t pass.
So I hear that headline. But I don’t need to hear about all the infighting and the backstabbing, backstabbing and whose fault it was and who’s to blame. It doesn’t really help me.
Really well said. Makes sense to me. Awesome. Peter. Well, I’m excited about your book. I’m really excited about reading the whole thing. And I think that other people will get a lot of value out of it as well.
So I want to thank you for your time today, man.
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.
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