Devoted to Vision

 

Devoted People

Books have characters who are key to the story. In the case of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy there is a core people, the Tethyans, who are key to the story as well.

At the time the story started to develop we seemed in a hopeful period in our world. There were beneficial changes in many regions. But then it seemed we began a downward spiral and today we look at considerable risk.

Even during the more hopeful period, the existence of a people devoted to stewardship and the future of humankind seemed essential. 

A Devoted Goddess

We have stories of gods and goddesses throughout history and often they simply reflect characteristics of humans. They fight, they love, there is conflict. In this instance the goddess Gaia represents both a benefactor and the planet itself. As such she stands above simple human conflict.

But she understands the essence of struggle in animal affairs that includes humans. So, she gives direction and can augment the conflict and struggle. And so the process stands above a simple interaction. From time to time she makes specific contact but she also represents a higher power. And the Tethyans too stand for higher purpose. They stand for us and our future. 

Beyond Present Circumstances

Too often we focus exclusively on conflict in human affairs. We look at which side we will support and the degree of our engagement. But there is a larger picture. We can address the matter of our collective future and whether we will join in a transformation. We do transform ourselves from time to time when we do things like embracing language and ownership of a culture. It may be that there are other things to embrace in our future. And they may not be apparent until they are upon us. 

Fundamentals

What is fundamental is our embracing change, devotion and vision. All that there can be is not readily apparent. It is devotion that fuels our future and we see it presently in devotion to stewardship and dedication to the future of all of us and our worldly home. And so again we come back to asking “What if?” Will be hold the vision which will support our dedication and insure that we will see our way through the current escalation of conflict. And if we do, we have to ask where is and what is our future? The beginning of this process is found in Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called now out in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Available as well presently is Book 2 Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge : The Chosen Rise. Book3 will be along shortly

Do you have a specific vision?

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Work Universe 2

A Call to End Passivity and Obstruction  

Facing Facts

Human society is facing accelerating change and it seems we are in total denial. We are acting as if the job market and its requirements are fixed. In the United States we say we have a low unemployment rate but other data indicates 10% of our people have simply given up on the job market. We hear that coal jobs are going away and some people are saying we must save something that cannot be saved. We have to face the reality of climate change and must change how we generate energy. The lis of other demands is very long.

It should not be outside human consciousness to consider doing research and planning. That means researching how our technology of all kinds is changing and how that affects the kinds of jobs that will disappear and what new ones will be needed.The job picture is changing and we have only a limited idea of how it is changing and what jobs will be required. If the research is ongoing, we hear so little that it is almost as if it is secret. And then there is the matter of our not knowing who is available in the workforce and how we can use them. More on that shortly and it is much more complicated than ordinarily assumed.

An Unexpected Partnership 

Decades ago I took a job I thought was only focused on mental health, but it had a component I did not know existed. The job was in the inner city of Baltimore and the people there were largely impoverished. I learned that each of our centers had a vocational rehabilitation counselor. And since I was the only psychologist who actually worked out in the community, they called upon me to do evaluations on the people needing assistance.

Vocational Rehabilitation was a generic term because many of these people had never had meaningful gainful employment. We learned at once that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. It generated anxiety and depression. We had a lot to learn-and fast.

What was needed was an evaluation and construction of a plan for each person. I became a collaborator with the counselor. We shared our expertise and developed plans.

The Process

I had been trained to do testing and evaluation but it was generally focused for clinical (mental health) purposes. I screened for brain damage, got a conflict and personality picture and gave an intelligence test. I had used it previously for mental health purposes. Now It was folded into working on job issues.

Along with the counselor, I had to focus on the jobs market and the skill sets or lack thereof of the people who were coming to us for help. I sat down with the counselor and we talked about his view of the client and he gave me a view of the job availability climate. That, in itself was challenging. We had to get an expanded picture because jobs in the inner city were limited. A whole new set of problems were opening before me.

The Bottom Line

I had taken a job that I thought would revolutionize the delivery of mental health service. What I had found was a whole new world where it was clear the focus had to be on a larger world. And, even more importantly, the professionals involved had to expand their horizons, and fast. We are still waiting.

560 words

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Truth About the South and Democrats

 

Let’s Get Real

I was born in Queens, New York and grew up around New York. I went to college in Michigan and in 1963 moved to North Carolina to begin work on my doctorate in psychology at Duke University.

I was utterly unprepared for the reality of the South one hundred years after the end of the Civil War.  As I had said previously I was not expecting to endure such prejudice. This privileged young white man was vilified for being a “Yankee”. I learned a southern accent so I could be served at the parts store to buy spark plugs for my car. An end to innocence.

Time to Vote

I grew up in the Republican Party and turned 21 (the voting age then) in North Carolina. I registered as a Democrat because I wanted my vote to count. Often there were as many as four primaries to decide who the Democratic nominee would be. Most Republicans were black. They never won office.

When I went to register I check off C for caucasian which infuriated the woman at the desk because C was for colored. (I couldn’t resist the nudge.)

About the Democratic Party in the South

It is often said that the Democrats lost the South recently. Sheer nonsense. The Democratic Party never had the South. Lincoln was a Republican and they wanted nothing to do with his party so took the name Democrat. It was name only.

The furor about Biden and Southern Democrats has failed to deal with reality, complexity and truth. Real Democrats did a dance with southern racists as a means of assembling votes for legislative purposes.

It was ugly and disappointing but reflected a complicated reality.

The South Now

Eventually the Republican Party took hold in the South and we see it dominant today. The unfortunate reality is that racism is still a major issue at a level higher than anywhere else in the country. One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War the battle continues. And we can see it displayed in the supporters of Trump.

Moving On

We need to stop the petty backbiting now. We are seeing the ugliest side of our country displayed in this era of Trump. The Republican Party I grew up in is dead. The upcoming election may well determine whether we as a country will be mired in prejudice and ignorance and whether we contribute to dragging the world into a terrible conflict. Alternatively we may pursue a new and visionary view for our country. We have never had more crucial choices. And making the choices mean facing harsh and complex realities.

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-ChallengeThe Truth

There Is Sadness in America

 

First of all I have to clarify something about the context of this post. As a clinical psychologist it is my job to read people and how they are feeling. Most of the time I leave that door closed. It takes energy I don’t need to expend it for no particularly purpose. But presently I find feelings around me intruding.

Let me give three examples of things I have experienced recently.

A Simple Procedure 

I went in to get blood drawn recently and when I do the blood vessels in my arms go into hiding. Often it is difficult for the technician to find them. In this instance the woman did a basic evaluation, inserted the needle and got blood at once. I said, “It’s so nice to work with the A team.”

The look on her face was heart warming. A woman who had looked despondent became animated and happy. To me all I had said was a form of thank you and it seemed to have important meaning to her. I noted the discrepancy.

It Was Only Breakfast

Next incident. We had to go to the West Coast for a graduation and one morning we were in the terminal looking for something to eat. The offers were uninspiring until I found a man selling roasted chicken legs which looked meaty. They were quite good and I went up to the man who seemed to be making an effort to stay positive. When I told him how pleased I was, the joy on his face was touching. Once again, I had given a simple thank you.

No Big Deal

Third incident recently. I stopped at a small convenience store. There was a pleasant young woman who checked me out. She asked if she could offer a discount card and I declined. but I said, “Thank you for asking.” You would have thought I had given her high praise but she had been uplifted.

Paying Attention

These kind of incidents have come to be notable to me recently. At once I feel there is an indication that Americans are  being anything but inspired. In fact they seem mired and too often fundamentally joyless as if the future holds little for them and all they can do is struggle forward.

In fact, they re conveying how their lives are. We live in Trumpdom and an aura of widespread corruption. This is not the America I have known and we need to attend. There are people in Congress working for us and some are corrupt and work against us but fundamentally if we are to restore America we must all come out and vote in 2020 and bring back people with vision and dedication to our country.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Future of Jobs

 

Setting Priorities

Nationally we seem to have a wrestling match about how much to commit to what. If we speak about investing in infrastructure or health care there is an accusation of socialism. In fact we have been putting off facing something that should be inevitable and investing for the people of our country.

Focus on One Issue

Of special interest to me is the issue of jobs as we move faster and faster into a changing  future. I learned a great deal many decades ago and am deeply concerned about how we are not serving our most vulnerable people. And that issue is the changing jobs picture.

An Unexpected Job Function

When I went to work in Baltimore’s inner city as a psychologist I thought that I was to deliver mental health services. I wasn’t alone in being naive. As I’ve said before, poverty is the biggest enemy of mental health as it fuels anxiety and depression. In each of our service centers there was a vocational rehabilitation counselor and they were thrilled to learn they had a psychologist on staff who could evaluate the skills of people for whom they were seeking new employment or even some employment at last.

Many of these people were women who had no previous job experience as they struggled alone at home to feed and guide their children. What I saw was eye opening. Of course when they came for service I would interview them and when jobs were needed I would do a further evaluation to aid their counselor.

We Missed it

At a broader level there soon was even greater concern. To be blunt, when we began to see things like the decline of the coal industry and the ramping up of technology we should have begun research. It is commonly assumed that coal miners could only dig coal. Not true. There are wide varieties of talents available in all job markets and it is just a matter of identifying jobs which need filling and then studying the skill sets in the population at large.

One of the things that I came to see violated what I had been taught about intelligence testing. The most common test was divided into two parts of Verbal and Performance. Verbal is what we ordinarily assume such as vocabulary and related skills. Performance had a broader range and was less well understood. 

Discrepancies

Generally it is expected that the Verbal and Performance were expected to fall at a similar level. But when the Verbal fell lower it was viewed as a learning disability. I learned that turning it around was more revealing. Seeing it as a higher Performance level often revealed a special talent which was useful in technology type jobs. The type of jobs which would become available.

A View to the Future

For decades I worked with vocation rehabilitation people and gained a significant perspective. At least twenty years ago, when we began to see coming changes, we should have focused and begun research. We did nothing useful. The left behinds are a special focus. The ones losing jobs when they are in their 50s and 60s will be hard to serve but we can do a great deal for the younger ones and not just serve them but serve our society. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It gets complex and lengthy but I think I’ve conveyed the fundamental idea. Things are not as hopeless as they seem and there can be a much brighter future for many who see no light down their road. But we have to begin to focus on that light now.

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Echoes From The Past

 

Life’s Promise

Somehow we have a dream that a stable and glorious future will open before us. It is unlikely. Our lives are not ours alone because we share it with family and intimates, but also must share it with the world at large which is not under our control. But the past has a way of reaching out to us which is not necessarily a bad thing. It may tell us about how the world is and such things as the variability of opportunity. 

From My Past

In 1967 (yikes that’s a long time ago) I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore. I was one of the first people hired in one of the first community mental health programs in the country. I was just leaving Duke with my doctorate in hand and I was definitely ready to depart academia. The whole idea of community mental health was to bring mental health services to the public using a public health model. It was a marvelous idea.

Wait a Minute!

But there was not just one problem. Communities are different, and because of that the whole idea of applying the medical model to our inner lives was flawed and established practice is not so easily changed.

I was given an office and told to give service. But there was no one there except for a woman social worker. She led me out into the city and steadily the staff grew. Young professionals learned about the community and what it needed. It was tumultuous and fascinating.

Wait Another Minute!

But in some ways the least of our problem was adapting services to a poverty environment in chaos. An even larger problem proved to be the conservatism of the mental health establishment. All they wanted was the grant money and the glory of having landed funding for a “glamorous” enterprise. They had been providing services by psychiatric residents and medical students on six week rotations. We dug in our heels. The people of that community needed reliable ongoing services, not a series of inexperienced people passing out medication. Granted, our group of twenty somethings were inexperienced, but we were dedicated as a group to learning fast and meeting real needs. 

What We Concluded

What we found was a need for life management  in a form of partnership. Many “mental health” problems were an outgrowth of the dynamics of the poverty environment more than anything else. Of course, it was much more complicated than that but that is a rough outline. But we had found that a highly beneficial set of services and programs could have been focused.

In the End

At last though, those in power are in power after all. In time the bright eyed, groundbreaking young people moved on and the higher powers invoked a retrenchment. The community based clinics were closed, staff was withdrawn to a central building and business as usual restored.

Across the country the reform movement of that era was coming to an end.  And with its end came the end of community mental health. I tell the whole story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

Now the Lesson

Yes, community mental health came too soon and its time is still not yet at least until we get through our present upheaval when a younger generation with vision may take power.

But, looking back we can see something. On the street we learned a huge amount about such communities, but all the data was kept in our heads and used to formulate a highly focused, problem solving service system. If a system with managers of more vision were to be devised now, the information technology at our fingertips could help us sift, store, integrate and develop data for a viable system. And it could be adapted to fit the community at hand—whatever its form. Then we would truly have a community mental health system, but probably with a more refined name. And if we had had information technology we could have documented and built.

Coming back to one of my original points, I can see that something from the past can be brought forward to a much more adapted use at a future time when new tools and vision are available.

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.) 

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them.

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Roger B. Burt’s Newsletter

 

A Marvelous Set of Possibilities

The day to day news has been increasingly alarming recently. But from time to time we get some wonderful and hopeful perspectives pointing toward a truly important and positive way forward.

Such is the case with the publication of The Great Pivot by Justine Burt.

Available now on Amazon.

Our Potential

There is growing agreement that climate change offers not just challenge but peril. And along comes this book which presents us with ways forward. And it is not just what we might do but it details how we can respond in a very constructive way.

The Great Pivot is remarkably detailed and I recommend it. It is not a dreamy Saturday morning read but very rewarding as it offers us details about how to proceed toward green solutions. The book is of special interest to policymakers and job creators but is also of interest to all of us.

The author is my daughter, but I’m focusing on it in this newsletter because of the import of the book. As part of my work as a psychologist I spent many years evaluating people for vocational rehabilitation. There is great good news. High tech green jobs can be done by the very people who are presently being displaced. I won’t go into all the details but, for example, as jobs in coal decline, the very people displaced can actually move on to new technology in the green economy.

A Brighter Future Than Many Believe

I’ll stop there. The book is fascinating and points to a bright future, not in an overheated planet but of technological wonder and promise of a productive future even for the people who are presently seeing their future darken. Take a look and let it brighten your day.

Roger B. Burt, author of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

Coming soon – Book 2: Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise

Introducing the Women of the Andromeda

 

They Came and Conquered

In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the Andromeda women are the women who are the defense force for the Tethyan people. They were not in the initial construct of the series, but showed up demanding not just attention, but place. Their role kept expanding and evolving.

They Are Real!

We’ve all heard of the Amazon warrior women. Were they real or a mythological construct? It didn’t matter. I wanted warrior women in the story. Were they real and did they live along the Amazon River in Brazil as the name might suggest?  No. 

And then I ran across the book The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor. What I found was an amazing encyclopedia—a life’s work in some ways. She opened my eyes and gave an additional perspective on the role of women in the world. Fascinating.

The Reality Expanded

The Amazon women fundamentally are from the region called Sythia which was a territory stretching “from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea (northern Greece, European Turkey southwestern Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and former Yugoslavia” The warrior women are also found in the Steppes into Asia. These areas were inhabited by nomadic and seminomadic people who fought among themselves and were involved in changing alliances. While there is no perfect clarity in this fraught region, the women were often referred to as Amazons. Yes, they were warriors and fought fiercely 

alongside their men.

Ancient Essential Equality

In so many of these tribes the women had remarkable equality to live, love and die in battle. There was evidence of free sex and it seemed that paternity was not at issue. Life could be short, brutal and, it seemed, exciting. It was a challenging environment where survival was at issue. Does paternity as an issue fade away when there is nothing to inherit as there might not be in these tribes? The continuity and survival of the tribe was the primary issue.

Prejudice against women is an issue in today’s world. The ancient world too had deep prejudice about Amazon women in some of their societies. In ancient Greece, for example, women were subjugated at home. In the Greek tales of their heroes these men went to war against the Amazon women. 

Another World to the North and East

Among the Sythian tribes women were equalized and went to war. One of the reasons was their management of horses. In today’s horse culture we still see women prominently. One suspicion was that horses respond better to a woman’s less confrontational approach. Women also were at no disadvantage at all on horseback and so did well in battle. Since archery on horseback was common, women could easily and effectively participate. And it seems that iron weaponry was first developed among these people and the women put these weapons to good use.

Prejudice in the ancient world was just as widespread as presently. Interestingly the term Barbarian, which we take as a negative, referred to anyone who didn’t speak ancient Greek.

Extensive History

In history women often fought alongside the men. In the TV series The Vikings we see the Shield Maidens standing in battle along side their men. Warrior women were prominent in the Middle East and all the way into China. In India and China in the martial arts the battles were often fought without weapons and women could participate and triumph.

Forgive me for not being more definitive. The stories are long and the information is detailed. There are very few universals to lend simplicity. I recommend Mayor’s book for detailing of all kinds. It goes deep into myths, ancient stories, even to such things as who invented trousers, sagas, tattooing and on and on.

The import of the book to me was that it speaks to the reality of women and cultural differences. It is illuminating and liberating. 

They Came and Conquered

And then there is the matter of my choosing to have warrior women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I did most of the writing before I found Mayor’s book. It reinforced my choice to include these talented, smart and brave women who stood for the defense of their people and ultimately the future of humankind. Interestingly I chose to have them evolve through the series and Mayor’s book supports such an involvement.

I’ll be blogging more about the Andromeda women. Early on I thought they would be useful for the plot, but found my feminist leaning led to a steady increase in their part in the story. I’ll be commenting on their role but also be blogging about stories related to individual women.

What I love more than anything is that currently I’m seeing illumination and empowerment of women in all regards. It is not just right and not just time, but as in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy it may well lead us to an enhanced future. 

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

Chasing El Chapo

Now that the election is over, how about another change of focus. Now that the shouting is over for awhile we need to focus on many ongoing needs

How important did you think El Chapo was?

Stay Tuned!

El Chapo was a celebrity drug lord. In the news constantly, he showed the extent of his power by who he corrupted and how he escaped. A long television program was devoted to his most recent escapades and recapture. At the conclusion of the show I did not feel like celebrating. All I could feel was “what a waste”.

Chasing Illusive Suppliers

Once again we had wasted huge resources chasing a criminal. Year in and year out we spend billions in this form of “The War on Drugs”. And right behind El Chapo stands a long line of men ready to take his place. We did nothing to stop this trafficking. It makes headlines but little more.

Lack of Vision

It seems we have learned nothing. And it all demonstrates a monumental lack of vision. Our first prohibition was a failure. The supposedly noble effort to end the use of alcohol led to the creation of a large network of criminal gangs which then metastasized into many other illegal enterprises. Then we did it again with the second failed prohibition of the more recent war on drugs. We decimated vulnerable citizens with invasive searches to find small quantities of drugs, gave them long sentences  and swelled our prison population for 1 million to 2.4 million while we destroyed the future of young minority men and the hopes of their families. At last we are bringing that under control and must now contend with healing the wounds created in police/community relations.

Facing Reality

So what are we to do? Drug use is a complicated matter whether you look at the numerous suppliers and profiteers or the victims in the form of users. We do not spend adequately to create the range and levels of treatment programs. What I learned as a clinical consultant in a drug program is that there needs to be a range of flexible options to help move people toward stability. They are probably not mentally ill but more likely disadvantaged in many different forms. They need help rebuilding lives, fighting addiction, gaining job skills and on and on.

It Isn’t Dramatic

But there is a broader front which is often called prevention and includes social intervention. We had  another very damaging drug called tobacco which we fought and it taught us lessons. These kinds of problems do not lend themselves to short term or easy solutions. 

It Is Multilayered

Anyone who has been through addiction knows the complexity. I wrestled with my nicotine addiction and was working on quitting (for the umpteenth time) when I received painful and unexpected help. Someone drove his SUV in my driver’s door and I was flown into Shock Trauma. They do not pass out cigarettes in the intensive care unit. I don’t recommend that solution but it helped.

Overall addictions in general represent a long road including prevention, incentives to quit, changes in social attitudes. We spent decades in campaigns against smoking and the results are interesting. We have decreased usage and have in place social restraints and legal restraints regarding availability of purchase and acceptability. We are now beginning the same process with marijuana. 

Social Commitment

Where are the ad campaigns regarding all forms of drug use and abuse? They are few in number and rarely heard. Where are the social sanctions and attitude statements about not using drugs. Television is flooded with ads for big pharma products with notations of often terrible side effects but the campaign to reduce drug abuse is almost nowhere to be seen or heard.

The lessons from the war on drugs, from our interdiction efforts and what happened with tobacco is clear. We need a great deal more efforts on prevention, treatment and tending to social attitudes. It will not stop overnight but we can make a significant difference. 

What have you found to be effective?

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

Our New Age Blossoming – 2

 

Looking Back

It is now over 50 years later than when I went to work in Baltimore. For me time offers not perspective as much as confirmation. The only perspective I find is that I can now clearly see the roots of my deep mistrust of the truth and wisdom of older white men. In fairness there is diversity among them but in our present age the fact of their rule is distressing in so many regards.

Designing a Delivery System

The community mental health movement came with a multi-part design. I was stationed in an outpatient facility which meant I was to consult with the community and deliver services. That seems simple enough. Go out and get acquainted so you get referrals and then give therapy with the psychiatrists giving medication as necessary. What fools we mortals be!

What we found immediately was that we had a lot of learning to do. The community was challenging to put it mildly. They were in serious need and mental health services were not at the top of their list.

The Existing System

There already was a mental health system in place. At the hospital nearby people could come for service. Since it was a medical school there were medical students who often were giving service in six week rotations—with little prior experience. Then there were residents. I’ll save you the agony of all the details but they were not acquainted with the needs of the community either and so could not respond effectively.

At the time psychiatric residents were committed to giving intensive psychotherapy. The local residents were not exactly candidates so they often simply got medication. We immediately found a fundamental truth. The biggest enemy of mental health in the area was the stress of poverty. So they suffered from depression and anxiety. Duh!!!

The System We Designed

Each of us took a morning walk-in clinic. We assessed the person’s problems and then spent the afternoon on the phone arranging appropriate services and getting information about availability among a lot of other things. For example, if they had a physically ill child who was not getting service or inappropriate service we sought appropriate help. Every center had a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who got a lot of referrals. Very many of these people needed training and/or education. A job or a better job had a very beneficial effect on their mental health along with the experience of hope.

Not So Simple

Did we have the support of higher ups? Sometimes, but often not. The older white men generally wanted to preserve the existing system and were primarily interested in the aura of getting the money for a grant to a new glamorous type of program. They loved the aura and wanted to look good to each other. Daily we were in the position of fending off orientations and demands which did not serve our community well. One of my common responses was “We’ll get back to you” or ”Let me look at alternatives.”

Allies With the Community

We  had to develop relationships with the community so we could respond to their real needs. In that era of the beginning of the civil right movement the community became contentious and interesting. Assertions of community needs and objections to the mistreatment of black men began at that time. There were issues about health services. At one point growing activism led to a difficult public hearing and I found myself sitting next to the state head of the mental health system who was clueless. Other times we were visited by arrogant “consultants” from Washington who we had to endure. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It was rough and tumble and never-ending as we fought for the people of the community. You might think we would have had allies from the professions but they were too often few and far between.

Another Major Wave of Change

In some ways we didn’t understand what we were seeing either. In the end the establishment brought down the community mental health movement. As the young rebels left, the clinics in the community were closed and the old ways resumed. I tell the full story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

But two things came out of the era that proved to have a long wave and import for our future. One was the civil rights movement and in the next post I’ll go into the other one. 

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