Monday, April 1, 2013

What Introverts Do When Attacked

     Extroverts are people whose vitality and optimism increase when they're around other people.  When they have to be alone for extended periods of time they feel drained and lonely.  They usually choose professions that involve interactions with lots of people.
     When introverts are required to spend time with people, their energy is depleted and they feel strangely empty.  But when they're alone, they gain vitality and optimism.  As a rule, introverts choose jobs that allow them to work by themselves.  When they're required to function in large groups or engage in conversation with others, they tire easily. 
     Extroverts deal with stress by calling friends and relatives, and spending time in social settings.   They may spend a lot of time out, if only to shop or be in a crowd.  They like bumping into people they know.  They join groups:  health clubs, yoga, Zumba, educational classes, choir, convivial outings, or go to ball games, movies, musical events and restaurants.
     Introverts deal with stress and recover from fatigue by spending quiet time on their own, reading, meditating, retiring into their own thoughts.  They prefer cooking at home to eating out, and when they schedule time with friends, they recharge later with solitude.
     Imagine an extrovert, raided by the FBI, wrongly implicated in a federal crime, and held in psychological limbo for years.  The extrovert would call everyone, talking out the accumulation of stress, and put together a plan for action.  Distractions might help:  parties, church, family time, bars, shopping, community work, travel, and more time on the job.
     The introvert, after a raid, would wish to disappear from view.  The safest haven would be invisibility--avoiding people, eschewing parties, and streamlining necessary trips to public places.  An introvert under attack would dread bumping into familiar people.  Introverts hide under the covers, so to speak, seeking out internal reserves of energy.  Encounters with friends are likely to be one-on-one--not tailgate parties and other group events. 
     It's not great for extroverts to be protected from their inner worlds, or for introverts to hide under the covers, even if they safest in these habitual surroundings.  Truly balanced extroverts learn how to be happy alone, and balanced introverts adapt to social life, profiting from interactions with others.  Extroverts and introverts tend to marry their opposites, which helps balance a one-sided stance toward life, and leads to wholeness.
     But stress taxes people's energy reserves, making them resort to primitive defenses.
     In my case, having been raided and held hostage, psychologically, if I could crawl into a cave and never come out again, I would.  I would read and think, and cook my meals like a primordial woman, and restore myself in the private world of nature.
     To counteract this tendency, I'm planning another trip to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks, and will meet again with congresspeople, pleading my case.
     I am writing letters and calling representatives now, although I understand that my voice and cause are unlikely to be interesting to members of Congress.  These puffed-up public servants (most of whom are extroverts) are more comfortable in the company of lobbyists who know how to talk to them, and who are not forbidden, it seems, from proffering gifts, or sidestepping laws to solicit campaign money, thereby drawing attention away from lowly civilians and focusing the congressional limelight on their corporate--or private--political requirements.
     While most ordinary people consider lobbying tactics reprehensible, no one is doing much about it.  The very lobbyists who should be ousted from Washington are lobbying to guarantee their continued presence there.
     What can the rest of us do?  How can we change our country from a two-party, corporate industry-run government to a multi-party system, a place where campaign contribution laws are enforced, and campaign money is equalized for all eligible candidates, and kept to a minimum?
     There must be a little civic hope left in me, or I wouldn't be going to Washington again.  I hope some people in Congress do really care about representing ordinary people whose problems are concrete and fixable, who see something wrong with the country and want to make it right.
     That's why I'm overriding my introverted inclination to run for cover.  It's why I'm joining forces again with our class-action group, appealing to Congress one representative at a time, when it's back in session this month.  We are demanding justice.
     Justice!  Isn't this what we need from our government?  Can anyone in Washington hear all of us,  out here in America?    

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