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Reader Opinion: Logic versus emotion

I read Rolf Westgard's opinion (published on Dec. 25) on lessons learned from the police shootings in Missouri and New York. My recent interest in and study of brain science has led me to a different perspective on those tragedies.

I read Rolf Westgard's opinion (published on Dec. 25) on lessons learned from the police shootings in Missouri and New York. My recent interest in and study of brain science has led me to a different perspective on those tragedies.

Mr. Westgard writes: "If we, regardless of race, follow those rules, there should be no repeat of the recent tragedies." From a logical point of view, Mr. Westgard's lessons make sense. However, solving this problem is not simply about following rules. Brain science tells us that in emotionally intense circumstances most people react from the emotional parts of their brain, not the logical parts. It is very difficult to think logically when experiencing emotional distress. To expect logical reactions from everyone, under all circumstances, is unrealistic when the emotional parts of our brains have the major influence on behavior.

If Mr. Westgard, like me, is white, racial background places another layer of complexity into the problem. I believe that it is difficult for most white folks to understand both emotionally and logically what the experience of being racially different is like in our country. Very few of us white folks have had the chance to have difficult and honest conversations about race with people who grew up with different backgrounds. Until our brains experience the emotions of being a different race, our logical brains will not completely understand race. The emotional and logical parts of our brains must work together if we are to improve relationships on a multitude of levels.

Lowell Johnson

Fort Ripley

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