Conservatives congregate in the Left Hemisphere of the brain. It’s the lobe that finds comfort in authority, loyalty, predictability, black/white information, and confrontation. When the Left Brain is running the show, its owner aspires to hold on to, or grow power. “Might is right” is its motto, in a “we and they” reality.
When behavior gets ruthless or counterproductive, it’s a sure indication that an individual or nation is running on only half a brain–the left half. The Human Brain, capable of analysis, planning, emotional regulation, collaboration, innovation, and empathy, is taking a back seat to the Animal Brain, whose domain is the Left Hemisphere.
In a complicated, interdependent world, “me first and foremost” behavior can paint a large, diverse nation into a very risky corner. The war in Iraq, Wall Street’s financial disasters, and Congress’s paralysis are monumental examples. In Washington, DC, for example, out of 3,914 bills introduced to date, just 61 bills have become law.
Media and political leadership, playing predominately to the Left Hemisphere, keep the brain’s natural opiate, dopamine, pumping by sustaining a constant sense of imminent threat. The hyper-vigilance whipped up by cable personalities, talk hosts, violent video gaming, and politicians, activates audience’s Animal Brains and keeps them addicted with a constant rush of dopamine. In a state of high-alert, the Animal Brain maintains a look out for anyone who appears dissimilar, thinks differently, or lives unfamiliar lifestyles.
Blocked by surging dopamine, the Human Brain, is unable to intellectually analyze what is and isn’t authentically dangerous. It rolls over to the Animal Brain’s thinking which reflexively labels diversity as a risk, to self-protection, the prosperity and safety of the tribe (family, work, religious community, or national identity), as well as the status quo of the culture.
A nation of individuals, businesses, and government fueled by dopamine, is firing on only half its cylinders. In government and commerce, being blindly oppositional and confrontational on every issue may elicit a sure hit of dopamine, but it comes at the expense of taking care of urgent business. Issues have become too complex and stakes too high to attempt decision-making without a Right – Left Brain balance.
A sober brain with two working hemispheres would be a game-changer; the one to take us in the direction of smart governance and sustainable economic and social policies We’re desperate for a big-picture thinking, with inclusive new solutions to benefit everyone. The time has arrived for an intervention!