Editor’s Column: A little cognitive dissonance goes a very long way

I hear a sound in the ether. It’s kind of a cross between fingernails scraped across a chalkboard and the “I’m trying to blow up

Niki Turner
my engine” wail of my neighbor’s pickup truck.
What is it? I think it’s a pandemic of cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” In other words, you’re saying one thing, and doing another. I’m guilty, you probably are, too.
I started thinking about it when I learned Congress has opted not to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHP and CHP+ in Colorado). The program, which started in 1999 (pre-ACA) subsidizes health care for children and pregnant women who can’t afford private insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
In other words, these are families who have jobs, they just can’t afford insurance. The program enables children from birth to 18 to get regular check-ups, vaccinations, and treatment for injuries and illnesses. It also provides pregnant women with prenatal care so they and their babies have a better chance of surviving birth. (America has one of the worst rates of neonatal and maternal death in the developed world. It’s statistically safer to give birth in Libya than it is in America.)
And yet, this is an administration that wildly waves the pro-life, pro-family values flag over its party platform. Are we only pro-life and pro-family when the life is still in the womb and the family is financially solvent and has employer-provided health insurance? Am I the only one who can’t quite wrap my head around how that works?
My frustration with this flurry of cognitive dissonance expanded during a meeting in which a passionate political conservative wanted to approve a Big Brother-esque policy to micromanage the personal behavior of employees and staff (lest someone act in an unprofessional manner).
I thought we just fired people who acted unprofessionally on the job. Oh, wait, apparently that’s changed, too. We’ve got people in some of our highest offices who have absolutely no clue what it means to act like a professional, but that’s not the point. The point is government overreach is government overreach whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican or a Communist doing the reaching.

Speaking of professionalism (which is basically common courtesy, right?), being in the writing industry is interesting. People often stop and ask for “help with my book” or “can you edit this for me, for free?” Usually I don’t mind lending a hand, but the way someone asks makes all the difference.
This week a former acquaintance emailed me seeking help pursuing a writing job. Her message opened with multiple grammatical errors, including misspelling my name. She went on to point out how happy she was to get away from the “libtards” on the coast where she’s been living. And then she assumed I would be in perfect agreement with her based on a limited acquaintance we had more than 20 years ago.
Now, if you want to get my hackles up, misuse the word “your” in any of its varied forms. Then start name-calling, using imaginary words like a third grader. “Dummyhead!” Seriously, if you just can’t help yourself and have to call someone a name, at least find a real word to use. Dotard comes to mind. So does cretin. Google “Shakespearian insults,” the Bard was a master at creating thought-provoking insults. For example: “More of your conversation would infect my brain.” or “You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian!” You get extra points if the person can’t tell you’re insulting them and doesn’t know whether to smile and say thank you or get mad.

I got my flu shot on Tuesday. It was probably the worst day of the week to do so, but I knew if I waited I’d keep procrastinating. I had an interesting reaction this time in addition to my sore arm: dizziness, racing heart, and generally feeling like I’d overdosed on caffeine. Not fun. And don’t ever Google your symptoms. Ever.
Bad as I felt yesterday, I’d still rather have the side effects than have the flu ever again. Real influenza is far worse than the nasty chest colds that go around every year.
I’m not going to tell everyone to get a flu shot. That’s a personal choice. Some people have religious reasons for avoiding vaccinations, some have valid physical reasons, others have heard inaccurate information and believe it. That’s fine. You’re free to make that decision for yourself. But at the same time, if you aren’t going to get a flu shot, and you do get the flu (or any other nasty germy thing), do everyone a favor: become a frequent hand washer, stay home if at all possible and if you’re sick and you must go out, be considerate of others and wear a mask. Yes, you’ll feel silly, but you might be a superhero to someone for whom that germ you’re enduring would be a death sentence.

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