How I fell victim to political extremism

In this excerpt from the Building Psychological Strength podcast, April Seifert talks with Peter Montoya about why he felt inspired to write a book about the political and personal divisions in America today.

I’m thrilled about what we’re going to be diving into with this episode, because I would bet that this is a situation that many, if not all of my listeners struggle with. So before we jump into that, let me just set the stage with a little hypothetical for this audience.

 

So imagine that you are at a family gathering Thanksgiving, a different holiday, family reunions, and that family member shows up. You know that one whose Facebook posts you maybe really hate. You disagree with them politically. You can’t understand how they think the things they do.

 

Yet here you are at the family gathering and you have to hang out and it needs to go well. How many people have been in that situation? I’ve definitely been in that situation. And you thankfully wrote a whole book about how to handle that situation.

 

So, first of all, thank you, because so many of us have had to deal with it. Second of all, what made you tackle that topic? Because it’s something we all struggle with and none of us are writing books about it.

 

It seems like a really difficult topic to tackle. So what made you write this book?

 

Great question. And yeah, you’re exactly right. My father in law pulls a very different set of world views from me. And during the course of the last presidential term, I found myself getting increasingly angry. You’d be sending out emails family wide.

 

And I was reading the emails, pulling my hair out, kind of doing some moral judgment, going, how could you believe this? How could you support this? What are you thinking? And eventually I replied back to one of his emails in a hard, snarky, aggressive way.

 

In the moment, I felt completely justified, like he deserves this awful, horrible reply. And then maybe within a day or so, I went back and read it again and realized how awful it was. And I emailed him again, and I apologized.

 

Hmm. Maybe a month or two later, we had finally had dinner and he was actually pretty gracious, but he was still a little bit hurt because what I said was so incredibly awful. And he really had to test me to make sure that I was kind of still a member of our kind of our family tribe.

 

And so we had some healing to do. And based on that, I really did some soul searching to figure out, you know, why did I do that? What did I do that? I mean, I in the moment, it felt so justifiable to lash out the way that I did.

 

But also, I knew it wasn’t effective. I knew it, but I did it anyway.

 

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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