We live in a fractured nation, how do we heal it?
In this livestream, host John Assaraf talks with Peter Montoya about his new book, The Second Civil War. They start by talking about how and where the second civil war is being fought right now and they continue analyzing our nation’s divide through the lens of an evolutionary psychologist.
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.
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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