Did you know “attention shapes the brain.” What we pay attention to is literally what we will build in our brain tissue, according a Psychology Today article. Attention, the article continues, is not critical. Judgement is critical. Attention is neutral. We begin to pay attention to something and then we start to judge it, evaluate it, categorize it and finally criticize or praise it. Attention is not judging. Attention is noticing without trying to change what is noticed. Attention takes time to investigate, explore and to discover whatever there is to know about what has caught our attention. Only then, can we begin to make critical judgments. Paying attention, therefore, is extremely crucial to a democracy—a government of, by, and for the people.
Did you notice (pay attention to) the new poll from NBC and the Wall Street Journal? The survey found that 54 percent of voters called kneeling during the anthem inappropriate, while 43 percent said that such behavior is an appropriate form of protest. Eighty-nine percent of Trump supporters are vehemently opposed to the practice. Black voters are among the most supportive. In a 1989 case, Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas law banning flag burning was an unconstitutional violation of the freedom of speech under the First Amendment. In a 1963 Gallup Poll, 61 percent of voters disapproved of the Freedom Riders and 57 percent of voters considered “sit-ins” and other nonviolent demonstrations wrong and against the law! Are you paying attention?
Did you notice (pay attention to) that recent survey conducted by the state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center? Nearly two-thirds of Russians believe gays are conspiring to subvert the country’s traditional values. Alexander Kondakov says the survey comes as no surprise. History, he says, is filled with examples of countries using LGBTQ people as threats to nationalist ideologies. He reminds us that in the mid-20th Century in the U.S., LGBTQ people were labeled communists—The Lavender Scare—which resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs (1940s to the 1960s). In Germany during the Holocaust, many gays were sent to concentration camps. Russia, by the way, has a “gay propaganda law.” Are you paying attention?
Did you notice and hear Mr. Trump say in his interview with Bloomberg yesterday, that he views the Mueller investigation as an “illegal” one? He cited “great scholars” who say it should never have been launched. And then last night at a rally of supporters in Indiana he encouraged the chant, “Lock her up!” for a person who has never been charged with a crime. Are you paying attention? Are you being attentive: judging, evaluating, and questioning? I hope so—because attention shapes the brain.”