Chocolate is perhaps the most universally loved and cherished treat in the world. While there are a wide variety of types, a person would have to look very hard to find someone who didn’t enjoy chocolate in at least one form. For the sake of this thought experiment we will imagine a world with the following rules.

  1. 99% of the world is aware of the existence of chocolate.
  2. Chocolate has never been available to the general public.
  3. Chocolate has been available for study for many years but very few researched it thoroughly.
  4. Chocolate was recently released to the general public after a year of intense media scrutiny.

As could be expected during the year leading up to the release of Chocolate, there were many people who formed opinions about chocolate. Many of these people had only seen chocolate from afar, had never tried it, or even been close to it. Many of the reports about chocolate focused very heavily upon the negative aspects of chocolate and ignored the positive aspects. Other reports focused only on the sweet sugary goodness of chocolate and ignored anything that could be seen as negative. A great divide grew between to the two sides of the issue. On the Anti-Cocoa side, people focused upon the possible health and social risks of chocolate, as well as its bitterness. They actively ignored any positive effects and acknowledged only the negative. On the Pro-Cocoa side, people focused  upon the pleasure that they derived from imagining a product that would be unlike anything they had tried before. Similarly ignoring any negative effects and acknowledging only the positive. As tensions mounted, a third group emerged that saw a bigger picture. Chocolate could be great in moderation and would also provide some much-needed variety in their diet.

Despite the divide, chocolate was released for public consumption, accompanied by a litany of complaints and praises from all sides. Everyone rushed to their closest grocery store to sample the new item. The Anti-Cocoa side of the schism quickly stuffed their palate with the bitterest chocolate that they could find, and reveled in the fact that it tasted awful. They told all their friends how terrible it was and that they should hate it too. The Pro-Cocoa side brought home all the milk chocolate that they could carry and were equally ecstatic. Nothing had ever tasted so good. They told all their friends that they should love chocolate just as they did. The Cocoa-Neutral  people stayed home and watched all of this unfold. After a few weeks they ventured out and purchased a wide variety of chocolate. After returning home they tried each variation and made decisions about which ones they liked and which ones they did not. They were cautious not to eat too much of any type, for fear of overconsumption.

Fast-forward to several months after the release of chocolate. Which of the three groups is fairing the best?  Both Anti-Cocoa and the Pro-Cocoa  have consumed so much chocolate that they have now become diabetic. They both are incapable of filtering out the negative effects of their overconsumption. There is constant fighting between them, as neither group can understand how the other has such vastly different opinions about chocolate. The Cocoa-Neutral group on the other hand has found joy in the positive aspects and continues to weigh them against the possible negatives. They are doing just fine and continue to live each day happy and well-adjusted. They speak out against the parts that they dislike while celebrating the aspects that they find enjoyable. Meanwhile the Anti-Cocoas are boycotting every store that sells chocolate and demonizing everyone who buys it. The Pro-Cocoas insist that every store should sell exclusively chocolate and that they don’t need anything or anyone else. The social climate teeters closer and closer to civil war. And it all has to do with the same chocolate that just one year before, very few people cared about .

Sanity that must be brought to the table. We must all strive to be in the Cocoa-Neutral category. The toxic arguments that we are currently having will only poison this country. We must step outside of ourselves and ask some very difficult questions. Questions about our attitudes towards new information.

These questions must be answered for both the Anti-Cocoa and the Pro-Cocoa crowd.

  1. When I see something that affirms my opinions, does it give me pleasure to share it with my friends that disagree with me?
  2. When I see something that challenges my opinions, Do I lash out in anger?

For the Cocoa-Neutral crowd there are no questions. You are awesome. Keep it up. We will meet you there eventually. For the rest of us, I would argue that being joyful when confirming our opinions and angry when they are contradicted is a clear sign that we are being neither rational nor truthful. Joy should be reserved for the good things in life and anger for the things that are truly terrible. When fed a steady diet of negativity it is only logical that we would crave that negativity even when it is bad for us. When fed a constant diet of positivity we overlook the negative aspects of our food. We must reprogram our perceptions to take all things into account and cautiously sample what the world has to offer.