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Our National EQ Problem

Relationships are difficult to manage without regard to any environmental or sociological factors involved and that difficulty is further magnified when we "racialize" it. Like most things in our country, "race" is simply a deflector to prevent us from seeing the real issue or issues that need resolution and instead focus on "skin color," which then becomes the object of the discussion and as infamously displayed in the OJ Simpson murder trial, it works. While many of our problems are articulated in skin-color terms, the reality is that we have just as many, if not more, problems with people who share our "race" or skin color regardless of the shade or tone. And the really bad news is that if we solved the "race" problem today, which would be a good thing to do, we would find that most all of our social problems would still exist.

While some might conveniently believe that they hate others or are hated by others because of skin color, the truth is that people with "issues" can find a million reasons besides your skin tone to hate you. Our relational problems are more a function of our emotional instability than they are of anything else. We have what I call a National EQ Problem.

For those who don't know, Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) is a concept and term coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in 1990. Much like we have an Intelligence Quotient (IQ), we also have and Emotional Quotient (EQ). In my own understanding of this phenomenon, I see it as the epic battle between the brain and the heart.

Daniel Goleman wrote a best-selling book about the concept and he identified 5 components to emotional intelligence which I think are also the keys to the current state of our national discourse. The components are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

Self awareness gives us the ability to understand our moods, emotions and drives as well as their effects on others. Do we understand that the hate we feel may be due to the "hate vibe" that we exude?

Regardless of skin color, we should all first consider our contribution to the problem.

Self regulation is our ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses; the ability to suspend judgment and think before acting. Wow! From journalists to police officers to social media enthusiasts, this one hits everyone.

Recently we had the Covington High School incident in Washington D.C. and pretty much everyone was wrong simply because they jumped to conclusions to force the scenario to match their view of the world. Were we to work on this part of our Emotional Intelligence, we would find that our view of the world is not always valid. In fact, if we're using "race" as the basis for our actions and attitudes, we're most likely always wrong.

Motivation is the ability to work for reasons beyond money or status. I believe we are deficient here as well. Most everything that takes place in our society has at the bottom line a dollar sign or selfish/greedy gain for someone. Even when it comes to "race," most are simply supporting "their group," whether it is "white" nationalism or pro-"blacks," our motivations are misguided and selfish.

Empathy is our ability to understand the emotional makeup or other people and respond to them with that sense of understanding. This one really emphasizes to me how emotional-intelligent-deficient we really are.

Think about this, does either side, "blacks" or "whites," liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans consider the other side when they make their decisions? It is quite doubtful. We don't consider empathy a virtue though it surely is. We should use it in our dealings with others.

Finally there is social skill or as I call it, social problem solving. This is to be proficient in managing relationships and building networks.

It is also an ability to find common ground and build rapport with others. This element we need to send to Washington D.C. and our politicians.

Emotional Intelligence is our problem; not "race." If you are "white" and you hate "black" people, you have an awareness problem and a regulation problem and that's not just with "black" people. That's your whole being. If you are "black" and you are pro-"black" and don't care as much for other human beings in the same space, you've got a motivation problem. Your motivation is misguided and self-serving if not downright selfish.

Our country's "race" problem masquerades as a skin-color issue but it is not. It is an emotional intelligence issue with each of us as the subject of the problem and until we can begin to empathize with others and understand their viewpoints we will never care enough to resolve our issues of hate, anger and bitterness. Perhaps once we have removed "race" from the discourse, people will realize that their hatred and bitterness persists and maybe this will ignite a search within their hearts and minds for solutions. Maybe then they will consider their emotional intelligence and finally realize that "I was the problem the whole time."

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