Some basic psychology, and some words from U.S. Grant (posted 1/18/21)

You may remember that a while ago, I wrote a column about trying to maintain an internal locus of control, rather than an external one. 

For those of you who are new to this site – and if so, Welcome to a civil port in what looks to be a brutal, oncoming political storm! – those are old psychology terms that refer to whether you see most of what will ultimately shape your life as more within your control (hence an “internal locus”) or beyond your control (i.e. “external locus”). 

Obviously, all of us face some factors that are beyond our control, from genes and levels of family function or dysfunction to national and international events.  But all of us have a huge amount of control over our lives, through the choices that we make. 

Choose a life partner poorly and you will likely end up thrice-divorced, bitter and broke.  Or even worse, locked in a loveless marriage with some joyless harpie like a certain former first lady I could mention (CAW CAW!), or with a faithless, intern-chasing horndog who deserves her. 

Manage your money wisely – live beneath your means, delay gratification, save money for retirement consistently, etc. – and you are much less likely to need to rely on the promises of feckless politicians to support you.

As I argued in my earlier column, we’d all be better off if we focused on what we can control in our lives, rather than on what we can’t.   In addition to this attitude being more psychologically healthy, I’d argue that it’s also inextricably intertwined with a conservative world view.

Dozens of conservative sayings and attitudes tout the value of self-reliance (even as we all know that complete self-reliance is an unreachable ideal) and controlling the control-ables: “You’re never too poor to clean up your yard.” “Tend your own garden.” “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”  “Pray like everything relies on God, but work like everything relies on you.” 

Leftists, on the other hand, are grand wizards (and if the hood fits, wear it!) at conjuring up external loci of control.  The system is corrupt.  The patriarchy won’t let women rise.  America is inherently racist, sexist and homophobic.  I’m poor because some rich guy stole the money that I never had from me… somehow.  The little man can’t get ahead.  

Though I hate to slander the Three Stooges with this comparison, the motto of the Democrat leadership of the country for my entire lifetime comes straight from Curly (without the comedic value): “I’m a victim of soy-cumstance!”

I think I can probably speak for most of CO nation when I say that we’ve been mostly happy warriors, opposing leftist encroachments and policies, cheering conservative policies no matter where they come from, and tending our own gardens.  We don’t lose sleep thinking of schemes to impose our wills on leftist Americans who disagree with us.  We’d rather not know what they’re up to in the bedroom, or anywhere else.  We don’t want to listen to their “music,” and after the last several years, we don’t want to watch their movies or tv shows either.  And if they want to lecture us during sporting events or award shows, we’ve learned to do without those, too.

We just want to be left alone.   

That resolve will surely be tested in the coming months, as an arrogant, hateful, power-hungry left takes control in DC, and does everything it can to extend that control over as much of the lives of the American people as it possibly can. 

The most disheartening thing about this perfect storm of an election season is that losing by such heartbreakingly close margins in a few states (especially the senate races in Georgia) has drastically increased the difficulty of escaping from the toxic leftism that these boneheads are going to be excreting in all directions.

Before November, it was devastating to be an Illinoisan or Californian or New Yorker, and to watch as bad leftist governance slowly destroyed your home state.  But when you had finally had enough, you could re-assert your internal locus of control, and vote with your feet and escape from the Pritzgers and Newsoms and Cuomos, as many millions of Americans have done.

But now, the threat is that if the Dems have their way, they will do to the rest of us what they’ve done to their hollowed-out home states.  They’ll bail out the greedy kleptocrats in Chicago, NYC and LA with the taxes of red states who’ve balanced their budgets.  They’ll forgive the loans of entitled unemployables who majored in grievance studies, while penalizing those who worked their way through school, or who skipped the beer pong tournaments and went straight to work.  They’ll reward those who came to the country illegally, and buy their votes with the confiscated earnings of those who have played by the rules.

Before you lose hope, though, remember what a bunch of incompetent dopes these people are.  They are not good at their jobs, their belief system is delusional, and the world is NOT going to conform itself to their plans.  Half of the country opposes them now, and after a year (or less) of their ham-fisted and ugly bullying, more people will.

They are sowing stupidity and dysfunction, and when the crop starts to come in, they will not enjoy the harvest.

For now, we’ve got to hunker down and ride this out, because it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  They have achieved some temporary success at censorship, and at slandering everyone who disagrees with them, but that cannot last.  We need to take care of ourselves and each other, and hang tough, and resist their plans without lowering ourselves to their level.

A lot of conservatives are pointing to the bitter political divisions that have revealed themselves in the last several years as evidence that we may be heading for another civil war.   While I can’t go that far, I have to admit that it’s not easy to see how an increasingly totalitarian and hostile left can ultimately co-exist with a “free speech, free minds, free markets” conservatism. 

However, I’m holding onto my optimism. (I admit that this is made easier for me because of my Christian faith, a belief that not all people of good will share, obviously.  But for me, knowing that there is an ultimate External Logos of Control [boom!] helps.)  Because when I find myself getting melodramatic about the threat caused by Joey Gaffes and his army of arschaffen, I like to remember the words of one of my favorite Republican presidents, U. S. Grant, at a darker moment than we now face.

The first day of the battle of Shiloh (in April of 1862) had been a miserable bloodbath, and among other horrors, Grant had witnessed a cannonball take off the head of an aide standing beside him, and both legs off of another soldier nearby.  That night, he and his troops sat in a drenching rain, listening to the screams of their fellow soldiers having limbs amputated in a nearby cabin.     

Sherman stopped to talk with the future president, saying, “Well Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?”

And like a bad-arse American cautious optimist, Grant replied, “Yes.  Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.”

Remember that, CO Nation!  While there’s a hard rain falling, and it feels like a cannonball has taken our legs out from under us – if not clean off! – we’ve been through worse. 

We defeated the Democrats and freed their slaves 160 years ago.  We’ve beaten national socialists in Germany and international socialists all over the world, and we’re going to outlast this motley collection of octogenarian socialists and racial arsonists and make-believe Indians (#wemustneverstopmockingher) and incompetent ex-bartenders.    

There’s no denying it: we’ve had the devil’s own election. 

Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.

One thought on “Some basic psychology, and some words from U.S. Grant (posted 1/18/21)”

  1. Good morning Martin,
    Reading this for a second time is a great treat, having read it first on CO’s facebook thingy and now here. Grant’s words and your focus on external loci of control reminded me of something Einstein is to have said; “God doesn’t roll dice”. Short and to the point.


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