don and ed

Editor’s note: The last Wednesday of every month, Dr. Piatt and Dr. Daake will be jointly writing this column entitled, “Main Street – Ask the Professors – Questions on Main Street.” If you have a question you would like to be featured in this column; please email either of them directly. This week’s question came from a reader in Bourbonnais who asked how we can exhibit a spirit of gratitude when the world seems in endless chaos?

Dr. Piatt will offer his analysis first, and then Dr. Daake will provide his perspective on exhibiting a spirit of gratitude.

A chorus of ineptitude ensconces our lives: We are seeing escalating conflict between political parties, rising gas and food prices, cancel culture radiating the discontinuation of our historical figures and authors, rampant inflation, and a complete lack of civility, which is reflected in a biased national media that excoriates those with whom do not believe in their political propaganda.

It is depressing to watch television and the national media covering up the accelerating dismantling of our great nation.

Reflecting a growing consensus of Americans who still believe in the greatness of our country, all is not lost. We still live in the greatest nation on earth. Millions of citizens of other countries are trying to migrate to our country, even with our inherent societal ills and maladies.

It seems unclear to those in political power that they work and serve us and not the other way around.

Contrary to rampant misinformation, we have a plethora of things to be grateful for in our lives. We still have a U.S. Constitution that enables us to pursue freedom of speech, religion, and the right to vote for candidates representing our interests. We have access to food, clean water, and shelter.

Medical care is available to those who need it coupled with one of the greatest accesses to education and job training which is second to none. Our country is inherently beautiful with mountain ranges, lakes, plants, farms, animals and national forests that exhibit the beauty of God.

Despite this current climate of political divisiveness, I am most grateful for the right to vote and reinstall those political leaders who will work for us and not some foreign agenda or political ideology that is inconsistent with our Constitution. My holiday wish for all of you is to have a wonderful Thanksgiving and reflect on what we do have, and, more importantly, how we can help our brothers and sisters in need.

As the actress, Doris Day used to say, “Gratitude is riches; complaining is poverty.”

Next, Dr. Daake will offer additional insights on pursuing an attitude of gratitude.

An obvious question at Thanksgiving time is just how “full our glasses?” During Thanksgiving, we tend to focus on that. I’ve always tried to stay up to date on economic, political, and social news. With a steady diet of this sort of “mental food,” we can start feeling perplexed and downright depressed.

I have actually cut my news watching down by about 70%. On the other hand, those who pay no attention and whistle the tune “Don’t worry, be happy” are likely not to be responsible citizens and voters.

Researchers have done hundreds of scientific studies on how we perceive things. Noble Prize winners and scholars Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky have led this work.

We can fall victim to the twin problems of the “representation bias” and the “confirmation bias.” A representation bias occurs when what we hear, see, and read is too narrow, and we assume the world is much different than it really is.

A great example of this is extremely rare airline crashes. But if a crash happens one or two times over a year, many people will refuse to fly because it’s too dangerous. And yet, every day, thousands of flights take off and land without incident. It is estimated over a million take-offs and landings happen at O’Hare each year. There has not been a major accident there in more than 30 years.

A confirmation bias happens when we make up our mind first without evidence. Then we selectively look for just the evidence that supports our conclusion. While I’m not a climate change denier or radical proponent, we have seen both sides guilty of the confirmation bias in recent years.

American physicist, Steve Koonin in his thoughtful new book “Unsettled” makes the point that “the science” (a phrase designed to shut people up) so often ignores science.

For most Americans who examine our lives at Thanksgiving time (without falling into either of the above traps), the glass is between 70-95% full. Below is a small sample of what I’m thankful for that can easy be forgotten.

Unprecedented medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs that extend our lives and health. Most people do not realize that we did not have any antibiotics until 1928. Millions of people each day work in research and development that leads to better health. Locally the employees of CSL are part of that.

Much has been written thanking health care workers. But too often, that has been limited to nurses, doctors, and other front-line health care people. In our community, hundreds of people keep the system going, including office workers, technology workers, record keepers, secretaries, clerks, sanitation, and housekeeping. We need to thank them.

While it is true that we see shortages from time to time (unlike I have ever seen) still in many countries, what we have experienced in the last two years, is a daily occurrence. I’m thankful for the whole system of logistic workers, including those in technology, the railroad, truck drivers, and warehouse workers right on down to those who stock our store shelves.

I’m thankful for the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. These have been, and I hope, will continue to build on our strengths and correct past flaws. If you haven’t recently read the Bill of Rights embodied in the first 10 amendments, take some time to do so.

I’m thankful for the moral, ethical and spiritual leaders of our society. Too many in this country want us to become a purely secular society. History has proven this to be a fatal error. Because of our religious heritage and traditions, this country is the most generous, caring, and self-reforming country in the world.

Just a quick side note, though. I suspect that at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the name of God will not be mentioned once, let alone Christ. In my opinion, too many of the political, media, and Hollywood self-appointed “elites” violate both the representation and confirmation biases based on their own values and those around them.

So we, as the majority of “ordinary” citizens, need to remember and confidently reassert our values into our society during this season.

Dr. Edward Piatt, Ed.D., MBA, is a retired manager from the state of Illinois with 32 years of frontline leadership experience. He is an adjunct professor of business in the MBA and MOL programs at Olivet Nazarene University, and a doctoral advisor and adjunct doctoral professor at Trevecca Nazarene University. He is also an organizational/economic development consultant and lectures frequently on Emotional Intelligence (EI), organizational culture, and leadership. He can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at epiatt@olivet.edu.

Don Daake, MBA, Ph.D. holds degrees from Kansas State University, the University of Iowa, and the Florida State University. He is professor emeritus at Olivet, where he taught for 22 years. He has numerous publications in academic journals, along with several textbook chapters and over 30 conference papers presentation. He can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at ddaake@olivet.edu.