Women and Our Future Pt. 3

 

Memories and History

It’s curious how simply discussing the topic of women and their place in our society is stirring memories. And at the same time I mesh them with a review of history.

There are Demarkations

World War II was not just a monumental struggle but also opened doors by necessity. We had been mired in the Great Depression and the necessity of the war brought the depression to an end. But the effects were not just economic but also social. As the men were drawn into the conflict, women were drawn into another kind of service. We got to know Rosie the Riveter as women entered factories to work for defense on the home front. Naturally I was too young to make comparisons to before the war but I saw a pride and celebration.

At the end of the war the men came home not to return to the farms but to industry and to found families. Now the women returned home from the factories to bring children and tend the children as we moved into a new era of prosperity. But there was a clock ticking. It ticked off a new “breath of freedom”, yes in quotation marks, for women. It took some time to flower but it did.

A Country Sweeping Us Forward

We rose into prosperity and a new future. The culture forged ahead. I remember my parents commenting on changes such as whole towns suddenly being constructed. Levittown was amazing.

By the 1960s we were to look at a diverse form of revolution. The Vietnam War was prominent and it did not have the caché of the fight against the Nazis. The need for the war was questioned. Was there, indeed, a monumental communist conspiracy we needed to confront?

Suddenly effective birth control became available, we fought for civil rights of our people and women sought equality and liberation. This was a world and a set of issues many people simply didn’t understand. But it opened fronts of conflict and demanded attention to issues with which we still struggle.

One of the Most enduring Issues

As a young man I was intrigued by what I saw women insisting upon. It felt right. At the time a woman who had sex before marriage was considered despoiled. She was not worthy of respect. But improvements in birth control began to suggest, even force, a change. It was a curious change but it seemed that if a woman might not become pregnant she might somehow not be subject to such a negative assessment. Not all agreed but it was then a possibility. Men could have sex whenever they pleased but now women just might be able to have the same rights.

Accepting and Changing Viewpoints

I can’t answer why I was sympathetic or inclined to support a new viewpoint regarding wowen. My household had been traditional. My mother was the doctor’s wife and tended to home and their two sons. But she never spoke against the changes which were coming.

And, no, I did not see the new freedom for women as despoiling them if they chose to have a relationship before marriage. It was OK for men, why not women?

I will never understand why I rebelled at the degradation of respect for women but I did. I immediately resonated to the women’s liberation movement. Equality seemed attractive and I chose to support it.

The Battles Continue

But here we are decades later and we are still fighting the same battles even as women have made substantial gains. But it seems, for many men, women should not be independent and shape their own destinies. And why is that? The rationales forceful and empty. The assertion of power hollow of justification. And it seems at times there are no hints of the wonder of true partnership. There is something much deeper, yes, at root.

Focusing on these issues is having a curious effect on me. I find myself scanning history and there are sudden memories and recollections of events surfacing. Clearly I will be reporting more on these themes.

What are your reactions and recollections?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Meaning and Entertainment

 

What are you seeking when you read?

Reading and Writing As Discovery

Roger the psychologist here. As I tread my way through the world of being a writer, I must confess that it stirs a lot of conflicted feelings and perceptions. I guess many of us may wonder why we write and may from time to time come up with some answers. I enjoy the process and find it one of discovery.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really there to pass time or just for entertainment. I have to be engaged and it has to stir something in me. And recently I had a curious discovery. A lengthy trip on a plane was coming up and I bought some books for my iPad. There was nothing to distract me on the flight.

From Out of the Past

The first book was Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I didn’t really know what it was about but I started reading. It turned out to be set in France during World War II. I was curious about the experiences of the people at the time and she drew me in and gave me their perspective. It was not a love story and was both difficult and engaging. And then something strange happened. I saw the face of a shop girl from when I was with my parents in France. I was ten years old at the time. She was in a bad mood but suddenly froze and looked off into the distance. The connection was instantaneous. As a ten year old I couldn’t understand that the Nazis had left only five years before. But something about that look stuck in my mind and then connected to the story I was reading.

Reflections of Our Personality

We harbor strange things in our brains. And in my brain, I search for connections. I’ve wrestled with a name for the genre I’m writing and have finally settled on choosing the term speculative fiction. I’m what’s called an intuitive personality type and the “what if” is always foremost for me. In Nightingale I think I was engaged with what ifs about how one endures such a terrible environment and then I found I had harbored someone else’s pain in the memory of a shopgirl’s face. I can’t prove that connection but we get stirred in interesting ways.

And There Was Meaning

In the end it was meaning and connection I sought. In Nightingale I found some elements of both. And, in my own writing, I am looking to understand why I chose to write the trilogy of Gaia’s Majesty. And recently I believe I’ve come to understand that it is about the empowerment of women. For decades, in my office, I listened to stories about people’s lives and one thing that came out again and again was the struggles women endured because they might be cherished on the one hand, but in other ways were pushed aside and told what they could not do. So, I chose to convey a story about talented women on an important mission. It was meaning I was seeking.

What are you discovering?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Sanity Versus Insanity

 

Do you know what insanity is?

No Clarity

As a clinical psychologist I have come to mistrust the definitions of sanity and insanity. And for that matter I also question the clarity of what is or is not reality. That is why this blog is called cuspofreality.

Most of us would like to believe we have a firm grip on reality but the “reality” is that we are deeply influenced by the context, our personality, our mood, culture and on and on. Reality changes from moment to moment as does the perception of what is or is not sanity.

What a Surprise!

Not long ago there was a great deal of excitement when someone showed the same dress as white and gold or blue and black. It was an internet sensation. How could the same dress be those different colors. It was, of course, explainable in terms of the type of light, how we looked at it, etc. But it shook people’s believe in what was reality. Could it really be both sets of colors? Sorry to say, yes it can be or at least can be perceived as such.

We do, indeed, spend most of our lives believing in that thing we call reality. And people who see things differently from us, whether it is visually or cognitively, are simply wrong. I know. I have the proper perspective.

Facing the Task, Not the Diagnosis

For those of us in the mental health field, when we have to help people who are struggling with their emotional and cognitive lives, we often have to spend time determining the role of insanity. After decades in the field all I can say is that I dislike having to make such a determination. I’m not sure the label is helpful. I prefer to think in terms of how well the person copes in the world and how effective they are in relating to other people, including their coworkers, and how good they are at life management.

If a person is harmless and happy with how they see the world, in many ways it is not important to define exactly how sane they are or are not. Labels may be rather pointless. Often we need not face the fact that most of us have varying forms of reality from which we relate to the world. There are, in fact, people who are quite insane in a fashion we can all agree on. Some people have a biochemical disorder which means their reality is fickle and they have terrible problems relating to other people.

Contextual Adjustment

What is the point you may ask? Sometimes we just have to adjust our belief as it relates to what is fair, correct, moral or just plain effective. And I am led back to the matter of the empowerment of women. We come from a history in which women’s rights were restricted. It is as if they were flawed and incapable of being truly independent. We are now rethinking this belief. And in doing so we are casting aside thoughts of sanity versus insanity or even incapacity. Perhaps we simply have to move to what is fair, correct and appropriate. We are already seeing the benefits. No matter how we view it, it is surely going to be a struggle.

How have you had to adjust your view of things in the past and in our current political crisis how do you assess reality?

 

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Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

A Collage of Reality

 

Join us and enter for an opportunity to win a free autographed paperback copy of

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power
To enter, email rogerbburt@gmail.com . Drawing every two weeks. Each person entering will receive the first two chapters of the book by return email.

A Collage of Reality

Are we really jugglers when it comes to reality?

A Mutable Reality

In fact, the mutable nature of reality as we see it is not strictly related to ourselves. It also relates to what is happening in the world around us. Concerning ourselves with reality is not just a personal phenomenon. Certainly we have to keep oriented in a world filled with stimuli. Maintaining a reality relates to things personal, social and environmental. We have to relate to all the different facets of our lives.

There is the matter of what we experience moment to moment but also phenomena and relationships throughout our life which, in itself, is a developmental process. And where we are going may be very different from where we think we are going.

Accepting Ongoing Adaptation

There was a time when vocational life was pretty much stable over our lifetime. A man would take up farming and that would be his life. A man would go to work for a company and retire from it. That is no longer the case. We cannot predict what our vocational future may be and cannot be sure of the duration of our relationships. All of those factors mean there must be many periods of adaptation.

Looking at our modern lives in that way shows why we must have an enduring belief in a stable reality. It is simply not feasible to consider all the possible variables at one given moment. It is really a tribute to our adaptability that we can maintain what we call sanity through all the changes and different stimuli. Finding enduring truth is difficult and keeping tabs on reality is a challenge.

The Larger Context

But, in the end, we have to move beyond personal considerations because there is an inevitable social context and we also keep an eye on the future of our species. In those contexts it is important for us to not simply watch developments among segments of people and political struggles. These things can confine our perceptions.

And it is the larger matters which concern me. In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I concern myself with the portrayal of what might be and how it might occur. It is not just a focus on stewardship and the wellbeing of the world. Certainly those are considerations, but within those issues lie the very real issue of how women will be seen and how they will participate. Again and again I come back to the belief that we are at a tipping point and the single most important issue to which we must attend is what is happening with women and where it will lead us.

Do you have a larger focus?

 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Nicolai’s Truth

 

The World of Intelligence Intrigue

Lately there has been a lot off attention regarding Russia and its authoritarian regime. We have seen journalists and opposition leaders murdered. That process is not characteristic of just recent Russian history. I have a story from my past which is germane to current events and how we view our world.

Being in graduate school at Duke University working on my Ph.D. was fascinating in so many ways. The South was having a civil rights war, I found myself deep in Duke University Medical Center and I was meeting all manner of fascinating people. Not the least of whom was Nicolai.

One day a new student arrived. He was older than most of us and had a heavy Russian accent. How curious? In time I learned he had been the head of KGB operations for Eastern Europe. One night we fed him ample vodka and he told us about how his life had been as a high level intelligence operative. Like so many people, he considered himself to have been a patriot. But being a patriot of the kind he had been required to be turned out to be a proposition he could not, in the end, suffer. He decided to defect.

Betrayed!

Of course American intelligence was interested and he agreed on a condition. When he went on Radio Free America to announce his defection his wife and children would be picked up by our people and taken out of Russia. We didn’t do it and he lost his family.

Nonetheless he was true to his word partly because he could not accept the moral problems associated with the kind of murderous activities in which he had to be involved. Like other Russians recently working for reform he survived a poisoning with a radioactive substance and came to the United States to study clinical psychology. Interesting choice.

Honor and Truth

He was a touching individual and I never would have guessed his past. He was such a gentle and respectful person with a deep sense of honor. The stories he told us that night were immensely troubling. But his concluding statement about his past in intelligence was one I will never forget. “You think intelligence work is like James Bond. It is in fact like Get Smart.” In case you don’t remember Get Smart, it was a television comedy series about international intrigue. The players on that stage were often inept if not just plain incompetent. Nicolai was speaking a truth.

It was clear he meant the statement and the details of his life bore out his conclusion. What he conveyed was that we often have a view of things which we hold as truth. But truth is illusory and Nicolai’s story was yet another confirmation that we do, indeed, live on the cusp of reality.

What do you think of Nicolai’s conclusion?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Speculative Fiction – Inspiration, Personal Growth and Authenticity

 

Focus on Our Personal Meaning

Here is a difficult but intriguing question. What is your personal meaning? In the end the meaning of how the world is must be less important than our exploration of our own reality and meaning. In doing so speculative fiction may aid us. And that fiction may involve a search through ancient mysteries that may be intriguing as we attend to our own growth and inspiration. One viewpoint is that such a focus is too self centered but if we don’t guide ourselves through self exploration, then we may have no direction at all. Maybe we won’t achieve a transformation but certainly we have to move beyond ourselves at some point and as we do we have to hope we have not lost our way.

The Core of Authenticity

It was very hard for me not to consider existential philosophy while I studied psychology. I found them intertwined. Early existential philosophers believed that their thinking began with the human subject. Woven in were concerns about disorientation if we did not examine ourselves. And, of course, there was the matter of authenticity. But they wondered if it all was merely absurd and at the same time wondered if considerations were too abstract. It helps if there is a direction or an object and that may mean validating our own personal meaning and giving it some substance.

Confession

Now a confession. These decades later I can’t summarize the works of the existentialists. I frequently felt lost in the depth of their thinking and the subtlety of presentation. I’ll leave it to you if you want to pursue the thinking of people like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre. But, in the end, the takeaway almost has to be the dedication to building our own view of an authentic self which leads to productive dedication and development. And it is that dedication that is woven into the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

A Little Closer to “Reality”

I think we’ll stay a little closer to ordinary reality which is difficult enough because it can be quite confusing and ephemeral. At one level, though, considering how authentic we are in our daily lives is worth considering. And, in fact, I can’t completely detach psychology from existentialism. Some of us run into more trouble than others as we try to make our way. And some of us turn to literature to do our exploring. Certainly vast areas of literature are helpful and fulfilling. Again it is probably psychology that leads me to science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction.

The stories writers create are ways of sharing among people the explorations of ourselves, humanity and what our future might hold. These considerations help guide us.

Have you seen works of fiction have large impacts? If so, what works were they?
Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Life Inseparable

 

Do you “have a life” or did you “get a life”?

What Are We Trying to Say?

When we refer to life what are we talking about? Are we talking about the body, mind, spirit collectively? Or are we talking about something which is a form of earth energy. We use the word “life” carelessly. At times it is hard to imagine what we are meaning when we use the word. We use it to refer to the form and elements of our existence as well as referring to the underlying process itself.

Rarely do we question what we mean by life. It’s not just a matter of the kind of life we lead. We joke with each other when we tell someone to “get a life”. Clearly they already have one but it is the form of it which is at question. And then there is the matter of the quality of that life. Our life can be highly variable but we will inevitably cling to it regardless.

Groping For Meaning

At the end of the day we do not really know what we mean by life. We can refer to inanimate things as having life or a life span. Such as a light bulb. It may be there is more truth in referring to life in such a context than we ordinarily realize. Certainly a clump of grass has a life as does that insect on the wall. But in other regards we can raise questions.

Does our planet have a life or do we simply refer to it as having a life span? We understand that our sun has a life span and there will come a day when it ceases to have its present form. But we also understand that it has a rhythm to its activity as seen in its more active and quiescent periods. Are those cycles indicative of a life form.

A SearchFor Meaning

Does humanity as a whole have a life span? Will we die out as a life form if we are unwise about our choices? Certainly we can cause death but do we create our death as an organism?

There is much more to the term life than we can believe at one simple level. Our definitions can diminish it or enhance it just as our behavior can diminish or enhance it.

Life Deserves More Attention Than It Gets

Are you still there or did I lose you? What I’m getting at is that the word “life” has a multitude of layers of meanings. But one of the things I came to in writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy is that we seem to suspect we are not alone. Of course most religions have such a belief but there is another level. It may be a matter of imagination, projection of feeling, or a recognition that there are so many different kinds of life forms. But, as I wrote, I kept coming back to the feeling that in this kind of story lay the perception that there are a multitude of other life forms which may be quite sentient and intelligent. But it may be a matter that we simply cannot ordinarily perceive them much less communicate with them. One of the wonderful things about telling a story is that it is possible for the author to rectify that problem.

What are your beliefs about life?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt