We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons … We sacrificed … We … cured diseases … We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy.”

            Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, Newsroom

The political system today in the United States is perhaps as fractured as it has ever been since the Civil War. The two major political parties, more concerned about perpetuating their own power, have lost sight of what was a far greater purpose. The ability to listen intelligently to issues which have the potential to increase the divisiveness, the ability to hear, to understand another person’s point of view is on life support. The ability to disagree on issues in a professional manner while still respecting the person who disagrees with you is becoming rare. Our politicians “personalize” disagreements on issues. If we disagree about the manner in which we address social or economic issues, then surely we must disagree about the substance of their soul. If you are not my friend agreeing on each and every point, you are my enemy.

Politicians obviously believe that the substance and conviction they believe they have on their own points of view are not substantive enough. They must also belittle and run down their opponents. Spirited, healthy, passionate debate on the issues is becoming a lost art. The focus now seems to be, “Elect me! I am the voice! Only I can lead us to a greater tomorrow!”

When was the last time you heard any politician say, “Believe in our shared vision. Believe in a tomorrow we can be proud of, a tomorrow of hope and promise. Our shared vision is the important thing. ”

Our political system is fractured. As we continue to personalize our political differences, as we allow our political views to define the very nature of who we are, we too suffer. Our unified voice as a nation is being muzzled. We are becoming known not for our collective might and vision, but our paralyzing dysfunction and divisiveness. Shrill voices crying out for attention while trumpeting their own self-importance distract the nation from our issues, worries and concerns.

Transparency, the integrity of our politicians, honesty, compassion, the ability to listen, learn and compromise in the spirit of a greater good are being lost. We allow fear to blind our collective vision.

Study after study show that people gravitate toward articles, issues and viewpoints which coincide with their own beliefs and points of view. We know what we know. Our own knowledge is safe. Since our point of view on a subject is bolstered by others who share that same point of view, then we must surely be correct and our perceived self-worth increases. We personalize our viewpoints. If you do not agree with my point of view, since my self-worth is now tied into that point of view, that means you obviously do not like or respect me personally. As a result, the divide widens, compromise is much more difficult and respect is lost.

Unfortunately, the eating disorder community is but a microcosm of our political system. And our children are the ones who suffer.

Disparate views breed contempt. A complete lack of transparency. Groups working in open opposition to other groups. Persons engaging in a concerted, shadowy campaign to slow down, undermine and destroy the work of other professionals, clinicians and doctors. Other Advocates, aware of that campaign of hatred, remaining silent.  And our children are the ones who suffer.

Personal agendas. Refusal to listen intelligently to viewpoints which differ from their own. Refusal to listen at all. Refusal to be open to change and evolution of treatment options and ideas. Refusal to explore collaboration with other healthcare industries and intelligent pharmaceutical intervention. And our children are the ones who suffer.

Our own fear dictating our course of action as the path we believe that is laid before us is blocked by our lack of vision and myopia. Our belief that only WE, and those who believe exactly as we believe, are the only ones who are right and all other voices must be extinguished. And our children are the ones who suffer.

We listen to our own fear. Our fear manifests itself as a growing and powerful voice in our head. Our fear seduces us. Our fear makes us believe that we are the only ones who are right! Our fear convinces us that everyone else is wrong and they are trying to hurt us! Our fear makes us believe that fear is truly our friend. Our only friend. Our fear will protect us. Our fear will guide us. Our fear will never let us down. Our fear wants to become one with us. Our fear wants to become us. Our fear tells us not to listen to anyone else.

And we start to believe our fear. Our fear becomes our friend, our lover. Our fear will never hurt us. We become our fear. And our fear becomes us.

And it is only after our fear has destroyed our ability to listen, to learn, to love, it is only after our fear defines who we are, it is only after we have become our fear to the exclusion of all else, that its true nature is then revealed.

All the time, our fear was nothing more than our eating disorder demon manifesting itself with a different mask. Seducing us. Continuing to destroy our soul. Claiming another victim. Another life. Another soul. Our fear is the greatest obstacle to progress. Our fear is another manifestation of this insidious demon. Our fear.

And our children are the ones who suffer.

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