Our nation is divided. Why? How? And what can you do?
In this livestream, host John Assaraf talks with Peter Montoya about his new book, The Second Civil War. They discuss reliable news sources, things you can do to shield yourself from fake news, and Peter uses the recent reporting on Afghanistan as an example of how you can become more conscious with your news intake.
I am with my friend, Peter Montoya. We’re doing a live session today about a really, really important topic, healing our fractured nation, and there’s a mess going on. I was talking to my father this morning and my dad, who will be 92 next month, was going on right now?
There’s so much stuff going on. We’ve got a fractured, you know, nation. He’s in Canada and he’s watching U.S. news and world news. And he is concerned. He is really, really concerned that there is a lot of shit going on.
Do you agree? Not just in the United States, but all over the world. Is there a way to really heal this fractured nation and to not get politics so involved? All right. So I don’t know if you all have heard of Peter Montoya, but he and I have been friends for 15, 20 years now.
Right. And and so just to make sure that you can hear me and see me, give me a thumbs up. I’m going to have Peter join us on. I’m on several different platforms right now. Peter and I are going to talk about healing our fractured nation.
And some of that Peter just wrote is called The Second Civil War. And you know what I said many, many about 18 months ago when Covid started going on. And and we had some major political issues, which I don’t talk a lot about.
I said like, we’re entering this era of a civil war. So this is apropos. And I’m going to see if I can find Peter so that I could do as anybody else concerned other than me. I usually do not talk politics, but I don’t even want to talk about politics.
And I want to talk about the bigger problem that’s showing up through politics. And we’ll talk about that in just a second. So, Peter, I’m asking if I can find you, Peter, if you can make a comment on our Instagram page, that would be great.
Who else is concerned? Anybody else concerned? Like I have personal friends that I’ve been friends with for God knows how many year. Let’s go live with Peter Munty. Peter, just accept my invitation. I have friends that I’ve been friends with for 10, 20, 30 years who we love each other.
We respect each other. And what I can tell you is we have never had more disagreements. All right. Than ever before. So let’s hope that we don’t get a reverberation here, Peter. Yeah, we just might see on Instagram as well as on on another channel.
So here’s what I’m going to invite everybody to do. How many of you can join us? All right. From Instagram. Can you hop on to my Facebook live feed on my fan page? Is there a possibility we’re getting a reverberation and I don’t want to do that.
I was on my side. If we can do that, that would be great. All right. Because you won’t be able to hear him. Look, let me let me just show you all what I’m doing right now. That’s Peter right there.
Do you want to. Here’s a question. I also have another question. Can you hear, Peter, if he talks on Instagram? Sorry, everyone. I want to make sure you can either join us on my Facebook fan page, Leive, or I can leave it on here.
And you can hear me and Peter this way. Which one do you prefer? Maybe I’ll just do both and see that. How’s that? OK. So, Peter, healing our fractured nation, why did you even get into writing this new book?
And and even focus on this topic like right now
is a really great question. And the reason was, is I was deeply embedded in the second civil war myself. Our first civil war in 1861 to 1865 was a all hot civil war. We had two different armies, the North Union and the Confederates, meeting on battlefields from as far south as South Carolina and as far north, I
think almost Washington, D.C., where 620,000 troops died and maybe another 100,000 thousand civilians. And so we compare this civil war to that one. People go, well, that’s just hyperbolic, Peter. We’re not actually in a civil war.
We’re not actually on the battlefield. But we are. It’s just a different type of civil war. It’s a social civil war. It is friend against friend, colleague against colleague, parent against child. What is happening right now is the tearing apart of our social fabric, where relationships are frayed and or severed because of our differences in politics.
So the war we are it’s like a civil war. It’s just at a person to person level. And it’s really hurting us as a nation.
You know what’s interesting is. When? We had our election prior to the election. I have friends who are Republicans, our friends who are Democrats, I personally cannot vote in the United States. I’m Canadian, but I started to see fights going on between friends of mine that couldn’t respect another point of view, but also from a neuroscience perspective
, when somebody has a deeply ingrained belief and their own evidence for why they believe that. Trying to convince them of something else is just it’s a it’s it just doesn’t work. And then at the level of conviction, we will actually kill each other.
And that’s why people maybe some cults will actually go to that length or one political party or one country over another. When we have this tribal mentality of us versus them, we will kill our family. And and it is a scary time, I think, unless we have some open dialogs.
Like I like I said it, most of the people are watching and following me right now. By the way, I’ve got my camera over here. Right. Hi, everyone. I’ve got my camera over here looking at the computer screen.
Most everybody here knows that I don’t bring this up too often. But when your book came out right and you are really bringing some solutions to the problem, that is of utmost importance to me, because I think it begins with open dialog that’s respectful versus, you know, in an attack mode.
So why do you think we are so ferociously, as you mentioned it, argue over politics?
John, it’s a great question. And you certainly identify you’re the expert that I go to for the neuroscience answer, and my approach is more from the evolutionary psychology point of view. And you mentioned tribalism. So ten thousand years ago, we were in tightly knit tribes of about a hundred and fifty or two hundred people.
Yeah. And if my tribe let’s just say we were the yellowface where I took paint and painted my face yellow. And you were of the green face tribe. And one day you kind of left your little camp and you were wandering in the forest.
And I left my camp and I was wandering in the forest and we came upon each other. We would immediately go into a fight or flight stance, we would’ve raised our spears. We’d probably start yelling each other and either we would back off or we would actually go to blows.
And so we’re ten thousand years later and both you and I, John, I’m sure. Go, Peter. Well, I’m civilized. I’ve been to college. I’m an entrepreneur. I have completely evolved beyond my tribal psychology. No, you haven’t. No, I haven’t.
So when we get into political discussions, first of all, I’ve been a part of and or witnessed hundreds of political discussions, and they really aren’t discussions, right? Really? Or actually is are you in my tribe or not? Are you displaying the same tribal badges that I have?
In my case, it was a yellow face versus your green face. And if you are the same color face, I am. Well, then you’re my friend and it’s fine. But in my mind, if you start using the tribal badges like the talking points of the wrong tribe, mentally, my mind goes into fight mode where I want
to hurt you. Now, thankfully, we live in a much more civilized time. We’ve been enculturated not to hit our friends, hopefully, or want to kill them. But in our ancient lizard brain, that’s the metaphor I use anyway. That amygdala, we are going nuts.
Yeah, it really is fascinating to me. You know, as you mentioned from an evolutionary psychology basis, it totally makes sense. As I was watching just the news last night and I’m watching what’s happening in Afghanistan right now. So let’s take the United States aside for one moment and we see how fast OK, I’m not going to pick
sides for this discussion, but how fast the Taliban is taking over Afghanistan and the Afghani people that don’t resonate with that tribe, who are fleeing because they don’t want to fight anymore. They’ve had 20, 30 years of fighting and tribalism at the at the level of if you don’t believe and follow what we
believe and how we behave, then death is the consequence. Right. Right. It’s imprisonment or death. And imprisonment, I don’t mean behind bars, but I mean imprisonment of my beliefs versus yours. And so what are some of the ways like I know what I do with friends of mine who have vastly different beliefs around whether it’s Covid and
vaccines that I do. And I won’t share what my beliefs are right now or the political situation of which president they like or don’t like and why. What are a couple things that we as humans, members of the same tribe called humanity.
What is it that we can do to level up our own skill, intelligence and communication? Like, help, help, help, Peter.
So, first of all, let me comment briefly on Afghanistan from this point of view. What the Afghanis are worried about is a literal killing. So they are different tribes and they’re fearful that the other tribe will literally kill them.
Now, what’s happening in our country is not a literal killing of people who are not our tribe, but a metaphorical killing. So almost everyone I know has a friend who they have canceled, which they have extricated from their life and they have metaphorically expelled them from their tribe or kind of a metaphorical death.
So we’re doing the same thing. It’s just not in a literal sense. And what I’ve learned about human psychology is to a densify. A human flaw is oftentimes to neutralize it. So when we oftentimes recognize one of our human weaknesses or kind of that inherent neuro pathway, as soon as we acknowledge that we have that weakness, we
can neutralize it. So as soon as we realize that conversations about politics are not about politics, it really is nothing more than the same third grade argument we got into in the playground when we said, my dad can beat up your dad or who can beat up who.
I think Superman can beat up Batman. These conversations about who’s at fault, you know, the Republicans or the Democrats, is exactly the same psychologically. We’re just doing it in a slightly more sophisticated manner than we did when we nine years old out on the playground.
Yeah, I’m really. I’ve been in a state of observation for about 18 months now. Just to understand the neural mechanics of the behavior and the results. And I’m telling you, 18 months ago, 17 months ago in like January of last year, I started saying that for the first time in my life of living in the United States
, I actually felt like there was a real chance of civil war. You know, and then, you know, what happened, you know, at the Capitol. And I saw lots of good people, you know, willing to defend and fight what they believed was happening to our country.
OK, so it’s the behavior is the effect. Right. And I was looking at the behavior going there at the level of conviction that our democracy and their beliefs about it is in jeopardy. That’s why they’re behaving that way, behaviors.
And, in fact, it’s not the cause of itself. And so when when you in your awesome book discuss that, you know, politics is the new religion. Right. Let’s dove into that a little bit. And by the way, everyone, can you just leave me a little chat?
Are you enjoying this conversation? I love to have a good conversation with people. Are you enjoying this? That I’m leaving this on so you can see the conversations as we can stream on Instagram right now, because it’s creating a reverberation.
So I’m leaving it off for you to see me and Peter. Good. I hope you’re enjoying this. I’m going to put it back over here. Let’s just make sure that you can see me and Peter right there. OK.
So, Peter, let’s talk about politics. Is the new religion a little bit about that? And then let’s talk about how do we navigate through this?
So here’s what I meant by religion. I’m obviously not talking about one’s faith practice. That’s not what I’m talking about. But another synonym for the word religion is a way of life. And for many people, politics has become their way of life.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, we had this fantastic separation between news and entertainment. And we actually went to places like Dan Rather and Peter Jennings and Walter Cronkite, who delivered. They informed. They didn’t try to influence. And we also had all these wonderful dramas that actually happened.
There were TV shows like Dallas and Dynasty. And you remember wrestling. We have these natural archetypes in our brain, which are ready. We are looking for heroes and villains. This is called a manicheistic worldview, where we could divide the world into good versus evil.
And what happened in the 1990s is news and those dramas like Dynasty and Dallas and the and professional wrestling merged. And now we are watching when we watch the news. We are watching a real life drama unfold right before our eyes.
There are heroes. There are villains. There are syas. Those people who look into the future, the talking heads who tell us what is going to happen. There are the people who give us moral clarity, who the commentators who say, here’s what’s happening right now, here’s who’s right, here’s who’s wrong.
And we are actually living this kind of epic Greek battle, this religious battle through watching the news. And we’ve got to understand is what’s happening on the news is about is accurate to reality. As the movie Star Wars it is.
Or watching professional wrestling, it is not reality. It is a dramatized version that is manipulating you, who they know how to get you into fear. So you watch it more daring, grossing you into a drama.
It’s really interesting you say that. Because my father, who like I said, he’s going to be 92 next month and he lives by himself in a retirement home, a building, and all day long, all he does is watch the news.
He watches CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and he calls me and is like, oh, my God. Did you see that? Did you hear that? And I go, Dad, that’s not true. He goes oh, no, no, no. They can’t tell you lies.
They’re not allowed to tell you lies. Most people don’t realize that. The more you hear something, it may start off as a lie initially. But if you keep hearing it and reading it and seeing it over and over and over again, lies become our truth.
Mine, yours. And the more, you know, we watch a certain TV station or certain clicks that we do on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube or whatever, anything that we click tells the algorithms. What we’re interested in and whatever it is that we’re interested in.
If you never watched the movie, The Social Dilemma. Go watch it today. Yeah. All of the algorithms are are created in order to give you more of what you fear or revere, to be able to reinforce that or what you believe.
So Peter and I’ve got up on the screen. Your new book, The Second Civil War Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. And Andrew, I don’t know if we can put it up on the on the screen. That will be great.
What I want to know is who was this book written for and why should people pick it up and maybe get an extra copy to give it away?
Yeah. So people might look at the title of the book and go, well, this is a book about politics. And it’s I mean, there is politics in the book, but it’s not really a political book. It is the first book of its kind, as far as I know, which is a political self-help book or a political self
leadership book. So if you have frayed relationships, if you have lost relationships, almost everyone does. And you want to understand why this has happened, how we are being manipulated by social media, the media, politics, and we go, I don’t want to feel this way anymore.
I don’t like the anxiety. I don’t like the hate. And I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. This book has been written for you and I have. My father is like your father. He is 85.
He is also in assisted living. And all he does is watch the news all day. He’s being pumped full of fear. And what’s so interesting is this. So, John, if I told you, let’s say we have a mutual friend and I’m making his name up.
His name is Robert. And if I told you a story about Robert that slandered him and slurred him and vilified him, and then you believed it and then later found out it was not true, who would? So, first of all, when I slandered him and vilified him, you might be angry at our friend Robert for
whatever I made up or manufactured. But let’s just say later, you found out it was not true. Who would you be angry at? Now, strangely enough, you’re probably angry at me for lying and slandering our friend, but that’s not how we handle the news.
Right. Most people are addicted to their stations and they will never, ever realize that they are actually a victim of their news station because that news station is slandering, vilifying, demonizing other Americans. Yeah. It is one of the most unpatriotic acts I can possibly imagine is to vilify another American.
Now, should Americans do we have both the right and the privilege and the right to go out and fight for ideas? Absolutely. You should go out in the marketplace of ideas and fight for the ideas that you believe in.
And you attack ideas. You don’t attack other Americans. You don’t watch any media that vilifies demonizes another American. You if you buy. I don’t watch any news. We’ll talk about that in a second. But if you if you got to watch any news, you don’t watch any news that makes his living by vilifying Americans.
Yeah. The news channels understand redds, radio, news, print media, any type of medium that communicates, understands the neuromechanics of activating fear and how it hooks you to watching more. And and so it’s really interesting, because one of the practices that I have that requires an enormous amount of
patience and some other emotional skills is to watch the news in a nonjudgmental way and to observe how the opposite of what I believe to be true bugs me and activates these emotional triggers within me. And Richard Feynman, the great physicist, you know, he said a highly evolved human being can hold opposing views in each one in
each hand and observe those and intellectually do the research to figure out which one is more accurate or more factual. And part of what is happening to us is that we have become cognitively lazy where we don’t want to think and you mentioned this before, we want to be entertained and we’re entertained through the news.
And the line between Hollywood and fake news and what we’re seeing in reality have merged so much that we are just accepting a lot of what we’re reading, listening, watching as the truth. And it’s not the truth. It’s based on ulterior motives by a lot of different people.
And again, what I love about what you and I are doing is we’re not talking politics right now or choosing sides, but it’s really how do we elevate our abilities to have better discussions and dialogs, to be introspective, to look at how am I showing up in this, how am I seeing this one of my behaviors and
processes as well. So I love what you know, I love what you’re saying. And so this is lots of fun, because the only way to heal is to be aware of my participation in the battle. That’s one one of the things that we have to do because we’re all defending our own position.
Mm hmm. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So one of the questions I’m asked quite frequently is, Peter, what news do you watch? Where do you get objective, unbiased news? And that question to me and I’m sorry, this language is going to be a little colorful, but that question to me is the same as where do you buy
your meth laced fecal matter? That’s what that question sounds like to me. I don’t watch any news. And once you understand that the news actually is not news. You would never watch it either, because the only thing that’s news to me is information that helps me make better decisions every day.
And so if you think about what information do I not have by looking out the window, maybe weather, maybe traffic, maybe some kind of natural disaster, maybe a pandemic. And you can get that information off of a app on your phone rather than watching any news channel.
So what’s happening in Afghanistan right now? I saw a little bit of the video by accident. It was horrifying. Go. That’s news. You need to know that this witness is ripping our country apart, is destroying the world. So here is the sad and horrifying truth.
What we are witnessing in real time in Afghanistan is happening just about every single minute. Somewhere in our country, somewhere, somewhere on our planet, there are civil wars. There are terrorist organizations. They’re doing things equally as horrible as what’s happening right now in Afghanistan.
Every minute of every hour of every day, 24 hours a day for the last 40, 50 years, sorry, thousands of years of our lives, it’s always happening. It just happened to get picked up by our news channels and now everyone’s covering it.
So the American news media is like a bird on a wire. If you’ve ever seen birds on a wire, there’d be a hundred year to two hundred birds on those telephone wires. One jumps up and starts flying in a certain direction, and all the birds follow in that same kind of swarm pattern.
That’s how the American media works. So if people are watching what’s in the book, I’m with you. It’s awful. The video I saw was horrible. And my heart goes out to those poor people. But sitting here and complaining about it doesn’t do me any good.
I made a donation to the Red Cross that might do a little bit of good. But beyond knowing this horrible things happening, it really doesn’t. Not that I don’t care. But it isn’t relevant to the decisions I got to make every day.
So, no, I don’t consume any news in a year from now. I’ll probably read a book on what happened in Afghanistan. The 20 year saga. And I guarantee you, the book will give me more insights and empathy and understanding than watching 10 hours of TV on it.
So let me ask a question. Ozzy asked a question here in the feed around, Shouldn’t we at least be aware of what’s going on in the world? Yeah, I think we should be personally. How do we get, you know, an overarching synopsis of what actually is going on in the world?
Like, I go from one. You know, I go I read a whole bunch of different news, not news channels, but different headlines, shall we say. Every day I do watch a little bit of news on different channels every day to have an idea of what every side is saying.
How do you keep yourself abreast of what is going on? Or you
just don’t? Yeah, I don’t. I really don’t. So most major news stories, people mention them and you’ll find that out. I want to be informed on influence and people to say, hey, did you know that the new mask mandate or or someone said, we think we’re in a drought in California.
OK, great. Now, I know we’re in a drought and conserving water more than I did before. Most major news stories just kind of bubble up and you kind of hear them in the ether. However, once again, even when you say I’m informed. What you are informed about is a small fraction of what is happening in the
world right now. Right now, the Uyghurs over there in China are being slaughtered. It’s not making our news. Does it change? I mean, it’s awful, horrible. And I wish there’s nothing I can do about it. So we can’t talk about our area of concern or area of influence.
And a lot of those issues that all they do is raise my blood pressure, raise my anxiety, make me want to vilify somebody else. If that’s all it’s doing is pulling me farther into drama. It’s not helping make a better decision about how to live my life today.
I don’t pay attention to it. I’ll read a book six months or a year after the event or watch long form journalism six months to a year after that. I don’t watch it in the moment unless it’s a global news story that actually a 9/11 size story.
Otherwise, I just won’t watch it. It doesn’t happen. All right.
Well, Peter, I know you’re busy doing interviews about your new book, The Second Civil War A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. Where can people get the book easy enough?
It’s on Barnes & Noble dot com and also Amazon.com. You can get it eBook, hardbound, softbound, on all those places. And you can always find me on my website, too, which is PeterMontoya.com.
I love it, my friend. Thank you for doing this. You and I have been friends for many years, and it’s a dialog that that I have with other friends. But I’ve never, you know, had this specific dialog on social media. I thought, hey, let’s enter into the dialog and everybody stand guard, OK?
You know, on the screen of your mind, stand guard with what is it that you really believe is, you know, are you choosing to believe the truth or a fragment or a little bit of the truth and be open minded to another one or two or three or ten opinions of the truth?
Just expand your awareness. Peter Montoya, thank you so much. Everyone pick up The Second Civil War, A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation by Peter Montoya on Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. And check him out at PeterMontoya.com.
Thank you. Thank you. Bye, everyone. How to leave me a comment below and share this right? Hit the share button. Let’s get this dialog out to other people so that we can expand awareness and more importantly, expand your ability just to be centered and in control.
Peter, you’ve got me rethinking whether I’m going to watch the news any more and I might take a… Last year, I took a 30 day hiatus from all news, and when I came back 30 days later, nothing was different.
It was all the same shit recycled over and over and over again.
That Billy Joel song, We Didn’t Start The Fire is completely accurate. The world’s been burning since the world’s been turning, and it will continue. Knowing all of it doesn’t really help us. 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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