MLK and Cognitive Dissonance


King’s “I Have A Dream” speech has been characterized as one of the greatest examples of oratory ever recorded.

Today that and several other of MLK speeches will be aired in honor of his memory and accomplishments.

Among other things, the speech is nearly a perfect example of the effective implementation of cognitive dissonance.

“Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information. Relevant items of information include a person’s actions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, values, and things in the environment. Cognitive dissonance is typically experienced as psychological stress when persons participate in an action that goes against one or more of those things.According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent. The discomfort is triggered by the person’s belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein the individual tries to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

Coping with the nuances of contradictory ideas or experiences is mentally stressful. It requires energy and effort to sit with those seemingly opposite things that all seem true.

It has been argued that some people would inevitably resolve the distance by blindly believing whatever they wanted to believe.

In the fable of “The Fox and the Grapes”, by Aesop, on failing to reach the desired bunch of grapes, the fox then decides he does not truly want the fruit because it is sour. The fox’s act of rationalization (justification) reduced his anxiety over the cognitive dissonance from the desire he cannot realise.”

(—-Sifted, summarized, and condensed from Wikipedia)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Trump’s followers and supporters have become untethered to the tenets and principles of Jeffersonian Equality and Madisonian Democracy.

To them the idea of a multicultural and multiracial America is sour grapes….

“Maybe the biggest problem is that these people are willing to lie to themselves.” —–Koshersalaami

The impact of Kings speech and the nonviolence of the Civil Rights Movement, and the cognitive dissonance created and generated by them, can be felt and heard in the speech given by LBJ as he addressed a joint session of Congress in 1965 just prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

It’s a shame and a pity that there is neither an MLK or an LBJ among us today…..