How Are You America? Part 2

 

Our Awakening

As the drive continued through the western mountains it was time to study and think. It seemed likely the people there in the mountains almost surely would have been the descendants of settlers long ago. For those who stopped and settled, one had to wonder why just there.

We had learned a lesson in Montana near Glacier Park. The summer could be sunny and glorious. People were enchanted, purchased homes and moved in. And then came the season when the clouds moved in for the winter and it was cold and dark. It seemed likely it might have been similar there in the mountains. Surely there were many interesting stories.

Limited Promise

In the end it was not a promising environment. We could see that the fields were not rich and grazing opportunities were limited. Anything which could be produced would have to be shipped out over long distances. And, as we could see, most of the year there was little travel except probably in the height of summer.

Who knows for how long this kind of area was largely cut off from the rest of the country? One hundred years ago they might have begun to receive radio broadcasts. Suddenly there was more information about the rest of the world but it was still limited.

Communications From the World

When I was in college in Michigan and vacation came, it was time to fill the car with other easterners and drive all night toward New York. It was a long, tiring trip but we were young and listened to the radio. There were stations from Texas, across the border in Mexico and so many areas of the country coming to us on AM from hundreds to a thousand of miles away. At night this was what the people of the mountains were getting.

And then surely came the day when there was some television beamed down into the valleys. First from transits in the mountains and then from satellites. At last they got a more detailed glimpse of the country at large and the lives of other Americans. Now they became aware of what the lives of others were like and the limitations of their world.

What Happens Now?

When I looked at this environment, I couldn’t imagine they would welcome immigrants. Life was hard, opportunities limited and they needed whatever jobs they could get. It suggested they would respond to the manipulative political statements from the recent campaign.

It seemed likely that this kind off awakening was difficult. What it means for their future and ours is open to question. And the other question relates to how we need to reach out.

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

The Overlords in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

 

Universal Struggle

Struggle is universal among the animals of Earth. Competition presses their development. And we see that competition in the interactions of protagonists and antagonists. In this series the antagonists are called Overlords. One of the essential struggles is against their greed and domination.

People are predators who had their origins in the sea. The Tethyans were some of those who developed in the sea but were charged to contain their predation. There were other predators who emerged and they remained thoroughly committed to greed and power. Those are the Overlords. Given the mission of the Tethyans for stewardship, the conflict between these two groups was inevitable.

Not An Invention

In fact these antagonists are not strangers to us. There are many forms of rule and that rule amy be benevolent or oppressive. Looking back at European history we see a ruling class which was composed of intertwined royal families. Some were more benevolent than others. Royalty finally bowed to a new form of government but the existence of powerful intertwined groups did not disappear.

In some way it is appropriate to say that royalty has been replaced by the oligarchy. In each country we see wealthy families dominating business and they have great governmental influence. In Russia the oligarchs have been fleecing the people. Their grasp on power is deep. In America we are clear wealth heavily influences our government. Oligarchs are among us as well.

Benefitting the Many

The Overlords in this trilogy are a devise. They were not meant to be a truly substantive part of the work. Certainly they have a role, but in the end they yield to a more fundamental theme. As with royalty, times change and different kinds of influence come into being.

A core theme in these works relates to the end of the subjugation of women and their empowerment. And as that occurs there is broader benefit and prosperity. And even better, there is the reality of them forming strong partnerships with men.

In the end wouldn’t it be wonderful if we replaced the rule of the oligarch with the benevolence of women and men in partnership. Of course it’s a dream, but the power of the empowerment movement and its benefits are already flowering. So it may not be just a dream.

What do you think of this dream?
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

Echoes From the Past

Life’s Promise

dreamstimefree_291589

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.

What recognitions are you bringing forward?

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

Stewardship in All Regards

Understanding Essential Obligations

dreamstime_m_79415720

In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy stewardship is an underlying theme. We are facing an issue of stewardship in regard to our fellow humans and our planet. There are so many levels of stewardship and the people in this story are facing central issues in defense of the future of humankind. Attention to the needs of stewardship often prove deeply inspirational.

After World War II we collectively took a deep breath. Not only were there whole countries that had to be rebuilt, but there were many millions of people who had put their dreams and their futures on hold. We got to work. About twenty years later things began to change.

Beyond Normalcy to Change

For me high school ended and I entered college innocently. Suddenly sputnik was lofted by the Russians and there was a new mission. Almost simultaneously the civil rights movement opened and we began to focus on preserving the planet on which we live. Amidst it all the women’s liberation movement was born. The dawning of this movement seems to have been related to the availability of effective birth control but it meant a whole new potential and form for our relationships.

While I was in graduate school mental health took on a new dimension with the advent of community mental health. It was not just a matter of mental health. We began to look at interacting with whole communities. I wrote about it in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health. We weren’t just treating mental illness. We were responding to the needs of communities.
Recognizing Stewardship

For me there was one word which characterized all of these events. Stewardship. And to this day it continues to hold our attention but is most often heard in regard to stewardship of our home planet.

But for me it holds a broader connotation. We are stewards in all regards. Whether it is in the civil rights movement, in the relationship between men and women or our planet, it is all a matter of stewardship. Anything can be lost or impaired if we do not become thoughtful managers. It was this underlying recognition which fed a great deal of what I was to come to write in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I actually had no idea what it was fomenting deep inside of me. We have broad responsibilities to tend to each other and our home. And it just might be that we are seeing something even more fundamental. We seem to be taking ourselves to a new dimension.

To what do you devote yourself?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon Page

What Is a Functional Reality? – Can It Include Spirit Guides?

 

dreamstime_m_45811196

Learning From The Other

In our own minds we engage in fantasy and dreams. We also explore legends and myths. But I have also found that my understanding of reality or lack thereof has been built by my clinical experience which means interacting with other people. I found it essential to adopt varying frameworks when I was talking to people. Each of their worlds may be quite different from my world and that means there is a different reality. Early on in my studies I was told that being involved in psychotherapy meant learning from your clients. How true. Not just in psychotherapy, but learning from others is a lifelong process.

Don’t Talk About It!

It is really odd that in most of our lives we simply do not discuss this much. But at the same time I understand why we don’t. What a time sink! In contrast I would argue that it is a worthwhile time sink if we would only focus it. We need not spend all our time on it, but in a social context, for example, we can clarify our policies in a meaningful way if we will see how and why we differ and how it might be reconciled for the common good. In governance it is useful for conservatives and progressives to talk together to construct a functional way forward. Too often it becomes an unproductive ideological battle. Functionality may begin with an abstract approach as we look toward the future of humankind.

Where Is This Going?

When it occurred to me that I wanted to write a post about functional reality I had a sense of what I was thinking. Let’s face it, if you are going to write something it helps to know where you might be going with it. In preparation I googled it and to my surprise I found I was not alone in thinking about it. See what you find when you google functional reality.

Functional Versus Unfocused

I found it useful to create a view of functional reality in my thinking for my clients and as I said I believe it is useful in social planning. Of course, while dealing with the lives of real people it cannot be anywhere near as abstract as this discussion.

We move to another range of functionality when we think about stewardship whether it is of our fellow humans or our planet. At that point we come to a utilitarian functionality.

Varied Tools and Ways Forward

And there is the matter of tools which leads me to my interest in speculative fiction. In fiction we can create a functional reality of sorts which guides the development of our story and our thinking. That in turn lets us to look to future possibilities in our writing and for our own lives.

Maybe I’m a little odd in that regard, but I like to know where I’m going and love to look ahead in other regards. In short, I like to speculate. Perhaps you have similar inclinations. Who knows? We might even uncover the meaning or existence of things such as spirit guides. We really do not know what other life forms there might be nearby. And particularly as we forage in creative lands it just might be that we will get unexpected guidance. Or, sometimes, it is a matter of being willing to go out there and just take a look. There is a range of functionality. There is what serves for right now and it extends out to the utility of what might be and where our dreams may lead us.

What is the usual focus of speculation for you? Do you have a spirit guide?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon page

Our Nation in Crisis – An American Vision: Part 2

The Big Picture

dreamstime_m_38939808

Next are some examples of contributory factors which often supported bad outcomes. Most were given bipartisan support.

We now face a struggle for our future and quite possibly a struggle for the future of our world. While environmental issues are among those at the core, the problems go well beyond. And it is important to realize that failures of vision and perspective are not the province of one idealogical group. In general we have been inattentive even when it may not be a matter of ideology.

Here is a short list which demonstrate bipartisan errors:

The War on Drugs/War on Crime

In the 1980s we declared this war. Stop and frisk escalated and mandatory (long) sentences were imposed even for nonviolent crimes often involving very small quantities of drugs. Rather than going into extensive details, it is sufficient to say it was excessive and our prison population swelled to one of the highest in the world. We went from 1 million to 2.5 million. We seem to have recognized our error and the population has been reduced, but part of the support comes not from a belief in justice, but the perception that it cost us too much money. We have alienated and grievously stressed minority communities and ruined countless lives and families.

The Second Prohibition

The first prohibition related to alcohol. It was assumed it would benefit society. But what we did was to help build crime syndicates. Their profits were huge and, once established, they branched out into many other criminal enterprises. Finally we recognized our error and resumed legal sale of alcohol with appropriate regulation. But we had already built criminal enterprises which continued.

And then, much later we instituted a prohibition of recreational use of marijuana. We failed to see that it would have a similar effect like that of alcohol prohibition. But this time we helped build international cartels. Of course, there are other drugs involved, but marijuana made a significant contribution to cartel profits. Many in government and law enforcement recognized the error and there is an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) made up of senior law enforcement officials and even heads of states which supports reform. We are making progress and many states now accept medical marijuana and steadily some are legalizing “recreational” use. In all cases there is regulation as with alcohol.

Globalization of Trade

Of course, in the world as it is, we must engage in global trade. Questions revolve around how it is done. Again, I won’t attempt to delve into a complex issue except to not one specific effect. The agreements we entered into often had the effect of exporting jobs. And the types of jobs affected the people we refer to as the “left behinds”. Our error was to fail to face the inevitable. We needed, from the beginning, to look at the implications and to plan for retraining and education to help move people into alternative employment. There was a rather large void of attention to the need and also how and to what we should attend.

A Changed Economy

The pace of change has increased and that means jobs must change and the employment face of communities must change. In a prior post I dealt with vision in regard to the future of Appalachia. Politicians claimed they could save the jobs related to coal. Reality and the facts were very different. In Appalachia coal was running out, coal companies were finding ways to produce with fewer employees, other kinds of coal in other areas were deemed more desirable and it was clear that wind and solar were to be steady producers of energy. In short, these jobs would inevitably disappear no matter what politicians claimed. We have yet to face the future in terms of what this beautiful area might have for its employment needs which very much speaks to the future of their young people.
I’ll leave the list there. There are many other candidates for a list of errors made by many people across party and ideological lines. The basic issue is vision and commitment.

Next we will go into discussing some lessons learned about issues which affect our viewpoint and outcomes.

What errors of vision would you note?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon page

The Promise of the Women’s March

 

dreamstime_m_39121345

(Sorry about the picture. Something about peace would have been better but I couldn’t help myself given the theme of empowerment.)

What possibilities would you welcome?

At the risk of seeming political I have to comment on the events of this past weekend. What we have seen were events which were not actually partisan, but display two conflicting realities in our country at this time.

Alternative Realities

The events of this weekend underscored one of the basic themes of this blog. Reality is ephemeral and will depend upon what defines your viewpoint. One view is that inauguration day was dark and unpromising in so many ways. The turnout was stunted, enthusiasm low and Trump’s speech dark and uninspiring. It looked like a disheartening display of our future.

Then dawned Saturday. It should be apparent in my posts that I am a strong supporter of the empowerment of women and it is an essential part of my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I spent much of the day fascinated and often choked up with the unexpected outpouring not just in the United States but in so much of the world.

A Building Wave Disrupted?

It has been one of my perceptions that this time looks very much like the time of world crisis just before World War I and we had reason to fear for the future of the world. It seemed possible that the growing array of crises might lead to a much larger conflagration.

It is my belief that the rise of women to power could well be what will save us. The outpouring on the streets of our cities is a welcome sight and brings not just hope for our future, but the indication of action in the service of all the people of our country. The focus or foci there will be may not be clear yet but a multigenerational surge of activism (of the most positive kind) is strongly suggested.

Resistance and Activism
Certainly there will be profound resistance, but the campaign for our future in the election of 2018 starts today. But activism need not begin or end at the ballot box. Reform, the engagement of vision, and committed endeavors for all our people can be at hand at many levels.

At the end of World War II America, as the only major power standing, led the world and we have worked for stability for decades now. Sustainability and smart energy policies are developing nicely. We have a growing elderly population, but also a strong and vibrant population of immigrants who will be essential for our future when we fully engage and support them.

I could go on at length but I think I have made my point. The movement of women to power and partnership is flowering and requires our welcome and wholehearted support.

What projects would you like to support?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page