How Are You America? Part 3

 

Small waterfall along a gorge trail.

Receiving Instruction

The people in the western mountains have the opportunity to instruct us. Not that they want that opportunity, but we can learn lessons if only because we imagine what their lives were like and are like now. But it is almost as if there are those who are asking, “why should we care?”

The answer is simple. We should care because we will surely be instructed. And the instruction is important because, like it or not, the world is changing faster and faster and we need to respond. When we begin to seek vision and answers we serve all our citizens and their futures.

Noting and Facing Challenge

Wherever they came from, whatever their stories, it is clear that their lives are challenged. It certainly looked like there were probably limitations of skills. That does not mean absence of talent or the capacity to learn and build new possibilities.

The bottom line is that in so many areas of our country we need to look at the need and possibility for educational opportunities and assessment of the skills which will be needed. It almost sounds like an abstract idea, but looking ahead we should be clear these kinds of challenge are widespread now and will expand in the future. One of the challenges will be not just looking at what may be needed but how to offer what people may not think they need. If they don’t need it, their children almost surely will. The assessment of what is happening and where it will lead and what is needed will take time. Unfortunately I hear very little about such explorations. It may exist but it is not prominent.

Receiving Instruction – Mental Health

There were two times in my past when I received instruction about some of the issues related to mental health. One of them was when I went into the inner city of Baltimore. I learned that these people did not need mental health services as much as instructions and help in managing a stressful environment and the offering of resources they did not know were available or that they might need.

In our “treatment” of them they gained self management skills in addition to being offered resources. The management extended to the self but also to the environment. Unfortunately many of the lessons were lost because of narrow-minded conservatism among the professions and the fact that resources disappeared as the “poverty Program” ended.

But as the perception of mental health is changing now and there is increased focus on management we have an opportunity but we also need to attend to resources.

Receiving Instruction – Vocational Evaluation

The other thing I found instructive was vocational assessment and retraining. In our mental health program, each of our units had a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. We worked closely with them to provide training and support. And the potential of people in entrenched poverty was often truly inspiring. We simply needed to open the world.

I was part of the assessment team and when I left the inner city, I continued to work to evaluate people who needed evaluation and training. There were other lessons I learned—up shortly.

 

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

Women and Our Future Pt. 3

 

Memories and History

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

There are Demarkations

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

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

A Country Sweeping Us Forward

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

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

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

One of the Most enduring Issues

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

Accepting and Changing Viewpoints

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

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

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

The Battles Continue

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

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

What are your reactions and recollections?

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

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

How Are You America? Part 2

 

Our Awakening

As the drive through the western mountains continued 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 fall 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 a double edged environment. The mountains were beautiful but 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 were few visitors 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 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 satellite. 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 surely compared it to their world.

What Happens Now?

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

 

Surely the awakening would have been 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 in our common cause.

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

Finding Benefits in Our Lives

How would you assess your benefits?

So much of the time we deal with problems and fraught issues. I thought this time I would share something about my life which relates to the issue of women that has been a focus. My position on the empowerment of women is clear. I am delighted with what I see happening. When I turn on the news channels I see women of all ages taking on effective and essential positions. I won’t spend a lot of time discussing the obvious. At last more and more of the talent of women is being fostered and recognized.

Partnership

And another theme which I feel is essential is that we are not talking about men being replaced in seats of power. There is a much larger issue and that is of equality and partnership. We have so much to offer each other and so many talents to share. And I’ve had the great good fortune of marrying a smart, creative and tenacious woman. I have felt lucky through the entire time from when we were raising our four children, her era as a hippie jeweler and then when she joined me in my practice as a clinical social worker. And now in our later years she has further enhanced our lives with her efforts at our home.

When we arrived at our current home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore we saw a property with potential and that included its settling. The outside was a blank slate and my wife chose it as her canvas.

This is my wife and Shield Maiden

This was her blank canvas

The Oasis She Has Created

                        

 

And then there is the lovingly cared for vegetable garden.

Yes, we have choices but also good fortune plays a role. This post is dedicated to my wife and Shield Maiden who is my partner in dealing with life as it has been, is and becomes.

(In case you missed the series The Vikings, Shield Maiden refers to the women who fought alongside their men. My wife’s mother was Norwegian.)

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

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Sanity Versus Insanity

 

Do you know what insanity is?

No Clarity

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

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

What a Surprise!

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

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

Facing the Task, Not the Diagnosis

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

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

Contextual Adjustment

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

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

 

Join us and enter for an opportunity to win a free autographed paperback copy of Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power
To enter, email rogerbburt@gmail.com . Drawing every two weeks. Each person entering will receive the first two chapters of the book by return email.

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

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

Commentary on Women and Our Future

Comment from Seregon O’Dassey (Goodreads reviewer)

“I agree with everything you said. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Believe me, I’ve actually said everything you said, and in return I get “faminazi”, “found the feminist” – as if being feminist is a bad thing – , or “man hater”.

In addition, I’ll add that a HUGE part of the opposition isn’t men – it’s other women! Women put down women a significant amount of the time. A big part of this are the women that hate on other women who feel empowered by exposing skin. All too often models – especially those in Playboy or who dance for a living – are called “whores” and “asking for it”. Meanwhile, those same women love to drool over shirtless men with muscles on book covers. Why do men get to chose to be half naked, but women don’t? Nudity is the SAME as birth control/abortion: You’re right when you say it’s not about the birth control or the abortion – it’s about women making the choice for themselves. The same thing can be said about clothing/nudity. The common denominator is that men have choices women do not. Because society looks down upon women making their own clothing choices.”

Response to Seregon’s commentary
Seregon’s comment added value. Yes, the word “feminist” has been used as a pejorative. Isn’t it curious that the word feminazi would even be created. Women have been working for their justifiable rights for a long time. What a travesty to refer to it as fascist. I, for one, am very clear that feminism and empowering women is not about domination. I believe strongly that what we are seeking is equality and productive partnership. Otherwise what a waste. There is enough which should be demanding our attention which is truly threatening.

I’ll admit I hadn’t focused on the opposition to the movement on the part of some women. Certainly I had heard some complaints by women but I took them to be from extremist “nutcases” to put it nicely.

As to skin, it is all rather bizarre. Certainly there are issues of decorum depending upon the place and time. But choice should be ours in many regards. Men do indeed seem to have more choice without criticism. But I must admit I’m amused at the beach when I see women in bikinis and men going to swim in what I call floods. That means full length pants a boy had outgrown.

And then there was France. After World War II when we were in France my older brother was delighted to take pictures of women in bikinis on the beach. When the film was developed Kodak had placed big black marks over the women.

Cruising in France recently we passed beaches with signs saying “plage sans vêtements”, meaning beach without clothes. When we pulled up at another beach two young women were unloading summer clothes for sale. Then they removed their tops. No one batted an eyelash. The culture is different and they were not degrading themselves.

It is clearly a mixture of custom and choice. But the underlying troubling issue is about women’s rights and suppression. We are having a discussion at last and the dividends are already coming in. More on these issues to come in future posts.

Join us and enter for an opportunity to win a free autographed paperback copy of Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power
To enter, email rogerbburt@gmail.com . Drawing every two weeks. Each person entering will receive the first two chapters of the book by return email.

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