Our New Age Blossoming – 1

 

Gaining Perspective

We may miss a moment deserving of wonder. I’m convinced we are entering such a moment. But let me hold it as a mystery for now. And I’ll begin with a hint and some personal history.

Up front I need to make it clear who I am. Often we don’t know how who we are may be meaningful. For me it has a lot to do with history and what is unfolding. I am a 78 year old white man and my perceptions and reservations about white men go back a long way.

The word “perception” references a view, not worship, because I learned deep reservations early in my adult life.

Innocence Challenged

In the early 1960s I went to Duke University to work on a doctorate in clinical psychology. In high school I became deeply interested in nuclear physics but a college instructor destroyed my interest. I then chose psychology because of my mother’s suffering. She could be joyful and full of song but over time fell deeper and deeper into terrible depressions and when she was depressed she was often covered with weeping eczema. I wanted to know why. 

Psychology gave me the opportunity to seek answers and fit with my personality where the search for possibilities was central. In the end that led me to clinical psychology rather than experimental psychology.

Time to Leave Academia

Toward the end of my time at Duke the community mental health movement was starting and at graduation I took a job as one of the first psychologists hired in one of the first programs in the country. The job was in the inner city of Baltimore. I was a neophyte and an innocent. We thought we were to give mental health services.

On my first day I met a young black woman social worker who became my mentor and main ally in an unexpected battle to come. Community mental health was charged to make mental health services more widely available to all Americans. In fact no one knew the nature of services impoverished inner-city residents needed. 

The Core Experience

Now I’ll tell the secret. Well, one of them. The staff was a racially diverse staff which included young and assertive women. At the time the Women’s Liberation Movement was just beginning. The experience became a battle royal regarding the coming of women and the delivery of services which I spell out in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health. Our chief opponents in this battle were the people in charge of the program and its development. The core opposition was older white men. Whatever perspective I was carrying that might have guided my life as a white man was torn to shreds. And today we see the continuing battle with them, their often distorted perspectives and corruption as we approach a new day for our country.

In future posts I deal with these issues in more detail but will also open other themes related to the wonders that might come for America if we were to seize the moment and the opportunity.

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

Life As a Journey of Discovery

 

What periods of discovery have you had?

We Begin With “How It Is”

First for us in life comes family. From there our world expands. There were my parents and my brother and then my mother’s two sisters. They lived together and would have been called maiden aunts. There was so much more.

Families can be secretive for reasons that are never clear. It was decades later that I found who one of my aunts was. My maternal grandfather was a milkman in the silk stocking district of Manhattan. That was in the early 1900s. The family lived in Hell’s Kitchen. It was said to be the home of the Irish Mob but census records show a highly diverse population. But in all regards it was a tumultuous immigrant community. 

Our Families Unfold

As my grandfather made his rounds both in Hell’s Kitchen and in the upper East Side of Manhattan he watched for abandoned children. He saw to it that they were taken somewhere safe. I had always wondered why my aunt Agnes loved to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It turned out that Agnes had found refuge in my grandparents’ home and she was not a blood relative. She was joyous and Irish through and through.

Agnes and her sister Ruth saw to it that my brother and myself saw New York. Often you can live in a city and never see it. But my brother and I were their children as well and we toured New York. The most special day was New Years Eve. My first such fest was when I was five. It became a tradition to go to Radio City Music hall for the movie and the show. Then we went out to Times Square. That was long ago and far away and we loved it. And after the ball fell we went to arcades and played games until the wee hours. Yes, I was a night person and delighted in the festivities.

The World Opened

And then when I was ten my father took us to Europe. It was just five years after the end of World War II. London was a pile of rubble still. Some interesting things were left standing but the sight of war and its consequences came home to me. Then we crossed the channel and met the French. To this day I do not understand why the British and French continue to have reservations about each other. Yes, they competed in the past but I found both peoples different but lovely in their own right. At the time the French seemed a little crusty. But as I visited them over the coming decades I saw them relax. Later I understood.

How Curious Is Memory

Something unexpected happened. Recently I read a novel about the experiences of three women during the time of the Nazi occupation of France. And then I remembered the face of a woman in a shop outside of Paris when I was ten. It haunted me. She seemed to be in a bad mood and suddenly stopped and stared off into space with a look of terror on her face. I was only ten and the Nazi occupation had ended just five years before. As a ten year old I could not understand. Now I could believe she was being hit by terrible recollections. Depth in my life was unfolding.

From France we went by train to Switzerland. To Americans there were odd shortages. We ate in the dining car on the train and as a ten year old I would have been drinking soda or water except the train had neither. So I had the choice of wine or beer. I tried the beer. It was an interesting trip to Switzerland for me.

Building a View of Life 

What’s the point? Our country appears to be on the cusp of major changes. In those changes we will see and discover much about our country and ourselves. In it we will see that our lives are journey’s of discovery. It doesn’t matter how far ranging the discovery is, it is there if we will attend to it. And it may be in the books we read, the friends we make or world events. It is precious and not to be missed. And we each attend to our personal reality.

What have been your turning points?

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

Demands Beyond writing – Promotion and Its Complexity

It’s More than Creative Writing

Did you know writing would be this complicated?

In olden days a writer found an agent and the agent found a publisher. Sure that’s a little simplistic, but it was broad stroke for how it was before self publication. When my wife and I wrote our workbook to help stepchildren adjust to their new family a good friend took it into Doubleday and they published it. They sent us on a national tour including an appearance on the Phil Donahue Show. Those days are gone.

How It Is Now

It seems publishers only talk to agents and agents don’t talk to—I don’t know who. In short there is no easy way forward to get a book published, publicized and marketed. It seems it is mostly up to the author. Of course there are predators out there who engage authors and charge incredible fees for doing things which are of little use. I won’t go into that mess. But we experienced it.

And Then There is the Promotion and Author Help Industry

There are books to help us write books, there are books to help us edit books and on and on. Advice pours forth from multiple sources and it is up to us to sort it and make sense of it. I’ve spent some years now reading sorting and in the end came down to trying it out. Some of the advice turns out to be dated, some spot on. 

The Best Advice

One of the best pieces of advice I read was to be patient. I’ve become quite clear that nothing works right away. It is said that there are 3500 books “published” each day. That comes down to a huge crowd and a lot of noise. It takes time to be noticed. The other things I got clear about was that things have to be tried and then we have to adapt.

Having a Thick Skin

Some things we have to listen to are writing related and some general publicity and advertising issues. But there is also reality. When the first of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy was published, the very first review on Amazon gave it one star. It was not to the reader’s taste, she thought the vocabulary was “too big” and she couldn’t write an effective sentence. Got that. And there it sat on the Amazon page all alone as I worked to attract other reviews. Who is going to buy a book with one star? It took some time, then the five star ratings showed up and the total climbed. Phew! The world is not an even, supportive place.

Being Fair With Each Other

One of the things I concluded immediately is that we need to be fair with each other. When I pick up a book and don’t resonate I have to be honest that the issue may be me and not the book. We don’t all like the same things. I’m not much of a fan of word heavy literature or that’s what I would term it. I want that book in my hand to be stirring and along with it my imagination and that essential thing in my life “possibilities” must call out to me. I’ll rate books but won’t rate books that are not to my taste. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable.

Endurance

I guess in the end what I would say is that we have to endure and stay with our projects. Let’s face it, we like the creative writing process and some people accept it as a hobby and don’t expect to sell much and may not even try to promote it. It seems best if we weigh our goals and accept the complex noisy world in which we live. We learn to improve our writing skills and we have to learn what to expect and to accept endurance is essential.

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

We The People

 

Have you thought deeply about the basis of recent tragedies?

Thought Needed

In the wake of recent atrocities no doubt the finger pointing and attempts to use the events for partisan political gain will continue. But we continue to need wise illumination and guidance.

An assessment of the basis for these events can fill books but there are a few basic pieces of history to which we need to attend. The words “We the People” are being used as the headline for this post because we need to understand that it is fundamentally the public at large which must face the basis of the problems and what we are to do about them. As of now truly enlightened historical commentary has been limited.

The Human Social Animal

There needs to be two broad areas of concern. One relates to how human beings are at base and how it affects our society. Humans are social animals which is both a strength and a weakness. Being social, we cleave together in groups of “our” people and work together for that common good. There is strength in numbers and it forges not just relationships but the development of productive effort.

Yet, our young staff working in the inner city of Baltimore in the 1960s learned to attend to a fundamental truth. In a very real sense, because we are socially centered beings, there is a dark side of racism and rejection of “the other”. What we learned was that each of us had to own that dark side and discovery and attention could help us contain and overcome the effects. As a society we still have not adequately recognized these realities nor how we can most productively work together.

Misguided Public Policy

At another level there was the matter of public policy. In Baltimore, as I stated in another post, we saw the beginning of a gulf between the police and the public when the police were forced to “arrest” innocent, homeless people. The police did not want that duty but were forced into these arrests which created terrible scenes in the communities. And then came another level when we began the “war on drugs/war on crime”. It was a bipartisan error forged by both major political parties.

And with this new war the police were forced into “stop and frisk”, stopping people on the roads where their cars were searched often resulting in the discovery of small quantities of illegal drugs. Convictions led to long prison sentences which robbed many men (especially minority men) of their future. Their home communities declined and the effect was to not decrease but increase crime. It also led to the scandal of our swollen prison populations. The ramifications are extensive.

The Public and Police as Victims

The people in these communities along with the police all became victims. Divisions and hostility was increased. And recently we have seen terrible tragedies especially within the black communities. Not every police officer is consummately effective in a difficult crisis situation. Errors will be made. Racism may contribute but it may also simply be an error. We cannot blame the police as a whole. And the effects of errant policies may lead the depressed or dysfunctional person to strike out. Depression is a janus and may lead to suicide or murder.

Looking to the Future

Are we to face ourselves and face the fact that it is we the people who have brought us to these tragedies? And we the people deserves emphasis. We must face our own racism. And if the public responds to prejudice and racial manipulation on the part of self serving politicians, then we become responsible for the tragedies as is currently the case. And if we fail to educate ourselves in the election process, then we abdicate our responsibility as citizens. I have often heard people say it does no good to vote. To not vote does harm, to fail to face reality and assess the often self serving political rhetoric does harm. We each have only one vote but we need to exercise it in the interest of our country and our fellow citizens. 

We the people helped create the problems we are facing and we the people can help solve them. That is the hope and the nature of a democracy. We face a swelling set of changes in this country and we had best attend to the process and our mutual interest.

And now, after recent school shootings, our young are rising up. And we are also seeing women rise as they throw off subjugation. These two processes are landmarks we must applaud and support.

What can be your contribution to solving these problems?

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

Feminism and the Roles of Characters

Changes For Female Characters

How do you feel about recent changes for women?

It has gotten more challenging to write female characters, especially now that the traditional role of women is being questioned. “The woman’s place is in the home” has receded into history and the permissible roles are changing. Yes, I chose the word “permissible” deliberately. There are still pressures regarding what a woman should and should not do and how she should act. This is an evolutionary process. And it affects how we develop fictional characters.

Greater Challenge

And so the author has to decide upon what a female character should be like or at least should attend to how they may be affected by contemporary views. Of course, if we are writing fiction a woman can do anything the author wants her to do. And then we will see how the reading public reacts. This raises the possibility for the author of challenging views and change. Of course, there is the matter of wanting people to buy your books.

Off Into a Changing world

And so I set off into the world of fiction and fantasy. The setting was contemporary which conditioned certain choices. And that can be challenging. There is a context for the present but if we are writing into the future there are many more contexts that become available.In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy these were women chosen for roles to lead us into the future and related to whether that future will be fulfilling or disastrous.

In history and in the present women certainly have had a variety of roles whether we approved of them or not. In this instance I began with a role where the Andromeda women were the consorts of rich, powerful and greedy men. I wanted them to be people readers could relate to and not simply courageous women who sought wealth and ease. They had to have values even if they were hidden. And implicit is that just because they are consorts they are in no way despoiled. They are their own person and have their mission. In fact they deserve recognition and praise.

What Will Women Think!

It would have been complicated to weave the history of the warrior women of ancient near Asia into the story for context purposes. It was inspiring to come to understand this part of history and the Andromeda women had to stand on their own. Of course they were not uniform and had their personal stories. I came to appreciate them more and more as I got deeper into the books. I’m pleased to say that so far I’m finding that women appreciate them. I think we all fundamentally understand that challenge in life is highly variable as is adaptability depending on need.

Coming to Comfort

The theme of an end to subjugation of women and their empowerment is woven deep into the story. I admired these “gutsy” women. They are smart and tenacious. Certainly they are not passive and retiring. They are who they are and they have joined a cause and that relates to what is happening for women and all of us now. Women have a growing opportunity to fulfill their talent and potential. And that in turn leads to value for all of us. It is truly a pleasure to see recent revelations about what women have suffered under predatory men and that those men are now suffering consequences. It is not all over, but increasingly we will now see women stepping foreword and they will receive broad support. It is more than about time for #MeToo.` 

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

Building an Unplanned Business

 

Do you have a life plan?

It Just Seemed Like a Good Idea

The house was finished and we had it furnished. But we weren’t going to move in full time. We had our clinical practice near Baltimore. This was a vacation home and we thought it would be a retirement home someday. We had okayed first to build a cottage but our builder, Wayne, had sold us on the idea that we might want to rent it so we went larger.

How Did That Happen?

We hadn’t actually thought a great deal about the rental process and so we didn’t think about it until the house was set up and furnished. At that point, when we inquired, we learned we were too late for wholesalers to handle it that season. With no other options we decided to simply advertise it for short term rentals in the Baltimore Sun. The winter was filled what felt like almost over night. That was easy!

What’s Next?

In fact we had more people who wanted a vacation in St. Lucia than we could accommodate. In effect people were standing there wanting to know where we could put them. Ooops! So, in desperation we called the real estate company that was managing the house for us when we were away. We found out it was not a problem.

Taking Another Tour

So we went on a tour of other houses that did short term rentals and booked in the people who were interested. The commission was respectable. So we looked around and found other places to advertise rentals. It proved not to be a problem. We had houses of all shapes, sizes, and costs we could offer.

Americans Like to Explore

We learned something else. Americans often don’t want to go to the same place year after year. The Europeans tended to go to the same island year after year and spent a month to six weeks. But Americans were asking “Where else can you send us?” So we crossed the strait and took a look at Martinique. We absolutely loved it. The French were very friendly and the island just as beautiful as St. Lucia. It even had its own active volcano and we stayed at the most romantic resort we had ever seen on the edge of the rain forest. But many Americans didn’t want a place where English wasn’t the first language. On to other islands.

One After The Other

It was so interesting. Each island we went to was different. Our advertising budget was expanding with our clientele. So, we added St. Martin/St.Maarten (French and Dutch), Barbados, and the Cayman Islands. We looked at Puerto Rico and the Turks & Caicos Islands but by then had enough inventory.

A Major Change

We were running the short term rental business on the side along with our clinical practice helping stepfamilies. But along came the insurance companies of managed care. They had found that they could effectively block mental health related practices and save money. Our model for stepfamilies was specific and they basically would not accept it. The mental health field was being torn apart by the insurance industry. So, regretfully we closed our practice and devoted full time to building our villa rental business. 

So Much For That Life Plan

It was an interesting experience. We assumed we would retire from our practice. But we fell in love with a Caribbean island, stumbled into building a house, rented it and, finally had a full time villa rental business. Both of us had always thought you built a life plan but in this instance good fortune, life insurance company depredations and an attractive opportunity sent us in another direction entirely.

Do you see a major redirection in your future? Would you like 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

Nathaniel Sent Us This

From my Christmas Letter — 2017; your piece
today (The Fog We Are Living In of 4/2/18)reminded me of this:

À propos of nothing at all, one of the ways in which we cope with reality is to adopt the role of a victim and project blame on others.  A good example is the recent massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  President Donald Trump blamed mental health issues with some justification: Devin Kelley, the shooter, did spend some time in a psychiatric hospital.  (Mr. Trump seemed to have forgotten that the first significant legislation he signed into law reversed the Obama-era policy of prohibiting mentally ill persons from buying guns.)

Others blamed the shortage of available guns, the theory being that if only more people had guns, those who were praying at First Baptist on that Sunday could have fired back, killing Devin Kelley, and then presumably resumed their prayers.  As long as we have someone or something “out there” to blame, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility.

In 476 C.E. Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the West, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. The societal order that Rome had brought to western Europe for 1000 years was no more.  Much has been written about why this happened; I am convinced that it was a gradual process which spanned centuries, each decade contributing a little something towards making this future disaster happen.

I wonder if we are now in the midst of just such a slow moving deterioration.  I find myself thinking now and again, “So, this is what is like to be in the middle of an empire which is slowly collapsing.”  I alone cannot change that process, and I do my best not to blame others.  I recommit myself to the small things I can do, such as recycle as much as possible, support charitable endeavors, minister to those who are hurting, write letters to the Editor, and say my prayers on Sunday mornings (these days at nearby St. Paul’s, Trappe) with no gun under my vestments.

****************

Nathaniel Pierce

Dreams Versus Reality

 

Let’s branch out a little from this world of fraught political realities.

The Caribbean is a land of dreams. Beautiful islands, lush waters, jungles and happy, welcoming people. That is what we see. Reality is always different. Not that it isn’t lovely but the experience of life is complex. We had been seduced and were building a home on a beautiful island with which we had fallen in love.

Complex History

As a tourist what you see is a bewitching landscape and the lush experience of the moment. In fact the Caribbean is complex with a fascinating history. The islands had tribes that came from South America followed by colonizers from a variety of countries including Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands. They fought each other and made islands their colonies. Which often meant slavery.

St. Lucia went back and forth between Britain and France fourteen times. The locals speak a French based patois along with English. When we came to St. Lucia the patois did not have a written form but, by the time we left, it was written and, if you spoke some French, you could read it. The accent was the problem. Many of the island people had been enslaved and slaves were imported.

What We Expected

We expected we would make friends with the locals and we did to a limited extent. But mostly expats or arriving foreigners related to each other. The indigenous people had strong family connections.

We also expected that life would be easy and it was not, as we learned our way around a country with far more problems than we had assumed. Electricity worked well enough except when the utility by mistake sent 440 volts into our 220 volt house. A large dam had been built to supply water and when they turned it on they blew the mains in the capital. We had a terrible struggle getting a reliable supply. But finally an Irish friend of ours gave me the map of the island water system and I was able to secretly go out and open and close valves so we got water most of the time. At least we did after I had to threaten suit in an island where people never sue. At first we had no water. We got mains installed after I threatened suit but as our Chinese attorney said, “You may have mains water but there will be no water in the mains.”

We lived in an open environment which was lovely except for the bugs, rats, crabs (200 feet above sea level!) among other critters. But we also had darling birds who ate lunch with us.

Other Realities

The island was a democracy with a small legislative body and a prime minister. In fact it was ruled by a few very wealthy families. Each of them owned a significant slice of the island. Electricity was produced by a utility which burned oil from Venezuela. In the distance from our house we could see the peaks of mountain where there was an endless supply of wind from the Atlantic Ocean. They could have generated electricity by wind power but the ruling family did not want that.

In short, it was much more complex than we had expected and the learning curve was steep. It was essential that we learn the ins and out and be tenacious. We had thought to retire on the island some day but learned some harsh lessons. The health care system was not good and if there was a serous health emergency the solution was to hire a plane and be flown to Miami or Martinique. When we left fifteen years later, after having had a wonderful adventure, we had survived. Our Chinese attorney said, “You lasted longer than most.”

What he meant was that people who did what we did, coming to the island and buying or building a home, found the island challenging at many levels. Most fled within a year or two.

In Conclusion

These are some of the highlights and realities. I’m glad we did it, and we proved ourselves to be adaptive survivors. These are just a few of the many issues we faced but there were also numerous rewards. These islands are beautiful and each of them are different. I’ll go into descriptions of other islands in a later post. The climate is beautiful and the summers can be cooler than the continental United States. Winters can be ever so cozy and with adaptability the social scene can be rewarding. In all though, it is essential to be flexible and ready to face numerous challenges. We are glad we had the adventure.

Would such an adventure interest you?

If you want greater detailing of the experience there are numerous posts on my https://caribbeandreamblog.com .

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

Did Eve Do Us a Favor?

 

Challenge and Opportunity

Writing fiction is a challenging task. It is generally said to be a creative pursuit. Easy statement but not so simple in practice. How many of us have looked at the image of the writer sitting at his/her desk wondering how to begin. Of course the first question is probably not what to write but why write. Somehow we feel a challenge or a push but at base writing fiction is fundamental to human existence.

Oh please! (I don’t mean that.) Not everyone feels the urge to write but they often enough choose to read. It’s not just a matter of us having the capacity to do either. There is something fundamental because of our tendency to seize the moment of creation of all kinds.

Who We Are

I’ll try not to go too deeply into philosophical meanderings. One of the categories I chose for my WordPress blog is “struggle”. When I chose it, I thought it would fit some specific items but found I selected it over and over again because I came to realize that life on this planet has a fundamental element of struggle. Once that is stated I don’t think I need to exemplify it. Surely many forms of it leap into your awareness. And its not just a matter of survival. Its incredibly fundamental and the challenge is essential.

One Example

You may have been wondering when I would get to the title of this post. Did Eve Do Us a Favor? Actually that came to my mind clearly one day. It’s possible to take that biblical episode as an indication of how women have fouled our future. It can also be seen as how evil can trip happily into our lives as in the form of the snake. But certainly it has been taken in a variety of ways as indicative e of how women are naive and fail us.

A Very Different Take

I have another view and think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Eve. Without her we would be sitting in Paradise desperate for something interesting to do. The view presented to us of paradise is shallow and wanting of challenge. Perhaps Eve saw that the snake was offering us a rich future of struggle and with it opportunity. But it required being cast our of Paradise and its inevitable boredom.

Not Stopping There

When we move beyond Paradise we immediately recognize a universe of opportunity. And I use the word universe pointedly. When we step back and look at our four plus billion year world we see amazing diversity and creation. We may be a moment time and have to wonder how we will evolve from here. Of course, each of us may well not see much of what is to come but the contemplation of possibilities is stunning.

Thanking Women – Again

And so I come back to the matter of struggle and seizing the opportunity. Our human past has been rich in struggle but also creation and opportunity. Women as the source of children and our future require recognition. So, again…Thank You Eve!-for your marvelous gift of opportunity.

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

Feelings of Inadequacy and Powerlessness

 

Personal Management

To fulfill our potential requires not just commitment and dedication for success. It also requires us to deal with our perceptions of ourselves and our belief or understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. Perspective is needed to balance such things as our talents or lack of interest. Our weaknesses need not drive down our self esteem. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s also a matter of orchestrating our motivation with self esteem. And it is often not so easy to understand our strengths and how they may benefit us. The bottom line is that management of the self involves management of an orchestra.

We cannot all be talented in the same way. Where we do not have talent we may have lack of interest or commitment or we may view something as inessential. Men have sports heroes and we are instructed to admire and follow in their footsteps. But some of us are not interested and where formerly this may be seen as an inadequacy or a weakness it can be transformed into a view of lack of interest because there are other talents which offer potential for growth and satisfaction. The confinement may be in what men do to each other. Part of the question relates to recognizing the extent and diversity of effects on each other. All too often there is an
enforced lack of introspection especially if the issue is not to be discussed.

And Then There is the Sexual Arena

Now before us we are seeing considerable evidence of the issue of male sexual abuse. Boys may ask each other, “Did you get any?” This is a depersonalization of women and helps lay groundwork for abusers. This question comes from the outside and, if the young man has values which indicate to him that he wants to not treat women as objects, self esteem may come to be at question.

Establishing a Useful Focus

As the sexual abuse scandals have become highlighted we see a central focus on males exercising power. We need to not overlook the other possibilities and it would need to be central to male group discussions. For many men it is not primarily a matter of power but one of THEIR self esteem. And when women step forward and talk about how they were abused they are too often punished and shouted down which makes matters worse.

We need to recognize that men may push and harass women sexually not because they are exercising power but because they feel powerless and inadequate. In short, it may be compensatory.They hope they may prevail and feel more powerful or worthwhile. Just as when Trump strikes out because his narcissism isn’t being fed. These behaviors can be more indicative of insecurity, fears, powerlessness and personal flaws rather than an exercise of power. They reveal weakness. These men may avoid despair by attempting to reassure themselves and their worth. Otherwise they can collide with a personal negativity.

Self As Trash

If a man believes he is trash then the subjugation of others may enhance, for the moment, their feeling of their own worth. But these kinds of self disregard can be assuaged only temporarily. Self concept and what we believe in ourselves is a virtual statue of self image we carry with us. And if it is dubious or negative then it must be supported and dealt with over and over because there is no event in day to day life which will thoroughly mitigate it unless there is a thoroughgoing search of the meaning and substance of ones self regard and belief. And men, when they are willing to search and admit can help each other with this problem. And so we return again to the meaning and need for men to self examine together. We share these flaws in self and in male culture. One of the leading indicators of this problem being underlying is seen in the man who must always receive praise and adulation. Enjoying recognition and celebration is one thing but the insistence and extent of need indicates a personal flaw.

The Bottom Line

If all the above seems complicated, it is because it is complicated. We need to examine these various themes and lay them out before us. If we focus only on power, we lose track of the variety of things which feed the dysfunction. We have our work cut out for us.

How often have you been able to perceive this process in men?

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