• Thomas Milus, PhD


I haven't posted anything for nearly three months. There was such craziness on so many fronts that I just sat back to watch for a while. Since this is not a political, economic, health, education, or union blog, I will try to stay in my lane.

Will Wilkinson's research paper, The Density Divide: Urbanization, Polarization, and Populist backlash, describes the historic nature of how we in America have come to see things as we do. He goes into depth about how the population has distributed itself based on personal and economic interests. And, along with those, a distribution and consolidation of political views that have posed such stress for us recently. We saw the deep divide between rural and urban in the last presidential election. It occurs regionally as well. That stress has not passed.

In their book, Better Together: Restoring the American Community, Putnam and Feldstein discuss the processes for building the social capital necessary for creating vibrant, creative, and productive communities again. This is not an automatic process; it requires work...hard work. But without it, we will not move forward effectively. Just as individuals can grow older without developing psychologically beyond adolescence or early adulthood, nations can do the same.

In her book, The Will Power Instinct, Kelly McGonigal mentions that in 2010, National Bureau of Economic Research tracked the fitness of over 3400 cadets at the U.S. Navel Academy. They found that over time the least fit cadet brought down the fitness level of all the cadets. One might predict that the group of fit cadets would end up pulling the least fit cadet up to their level. In fact, they might have pulled that cadet upward, but the least fit cadet also brought all of the others down.

My point in all of this is that individual interests or pressures move people to different locations (urban to rural). The various communities that form over time develop political perspectives that they believe will best serve them. Those perspectives can be very polarized and emotionally charged. After all, it relates to being safe (physically and psychologically) and surviving. We know that building bridges between individuals and groups is hard work often requiring a certain amount of personal development on the parts of individuals. We have data demonstrating that the weak links affect the entire chain. Therefore, we cannot simply ignore those in need at any level of the social ladder without experiencing some loss in our status.

Here again, we see the need for moving to a higher level of mental development. We cannot solve the problem with the same tools we used to create it.