Dear President Trump,
I thought for sure I’d written to you about confirmation bias before, but I just did a quick search of my running letters document and I couldn’t find the term. It’s an important idea to understand so I’ve been remiss. Essentially it is how we tend to preferentially pick out things in our environment that support our beliefs even if there are plenty of other things that do not support them or even refute them. This is how if someone has the belief that most undocumented people are felons, they are much more likely to notice (and give weight to) undocumented people who are felons and fail to notice that many, many more are not. Of course there are some among us who purposely exploit this confirmation bias tendency in others to further their own agenda. If you are perhaps thinking this is a description of you, you would be correct, and if you are perhaps thinking that it would help your karma to stop manipulating people in this way, you would be correct again.
Besides pointing out this crappy sort of confirmation bias, I also wanted to let you know that since writing yesterday’s letter about mental health and masculinity I have observed three really lovely examples of men being emotionally vulnerable or present and supportive. The first in this series was last night when Laura noticed that our waiter had a dog tattoo on his inner forearm and she asked him about it. He said he had the tattoo placed there so he could look at his dog when he was feeling bad and needed to be reminded that someone loved him. The second was in church this morning. After a hymn a young woman started crying quietly and her partner put his arm around her and held her for a few minutes. The third was also in church. Our executive minister preached this morning and about two-thirds of the way into his sermon he shared that as a boy, he’d been sexually abused. He said it kind of fast and moved quickly to his gratitude for one of the women in his life who believed in him and told him he was absolutely ok and perfect just as he was. And, he said it out loud and let it be known that this is part of his history and that he is ok and perfect just as he is. It was a gift.
May we all be safe to somehow acknowledge the hard parts.
May we all be happy to hold a space for each other when a tender truth is revealed.
May we all be healthy and thoughtful about our beliefs.
May we all make peace with the parts of our histories we wouldn’t wish on anyone else.