Part 4 : Our Nation in Crisis

Our National Turmoil

The People’s Business

Each morning when we turn on the television we are greeted with coverage of a pathetic and terrifying political scene of a Washington in disarray. Certainly there has always been a dark side to politics and inspiring leaders with wisdom are often not too common. There is an important question. “Would it be possible for us to have a representative democracy?”

There are ongoing hints of deeply rooted corruption and authoritarianism. The unwise Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court simply deepened the corrupting influence of money in government. There is a seemingly endless conflict about health care. Every other developed country has a more efficient and less costly system. Perhaps it’s time to get back to pursuing the people’s business and needs.

No Paucity of Vital Issues

We have come to the point where we are seeing everything through partisan political views. But before us are numerous issues needing to be solved and they should not be partisan.

One frequently mentioned issue is the plight of what we call the Left Behinds. In fact, we have many groups of them. Most often mentioned are the people of the Rust Belt. There are many other groups.

When I came to Maryland, Baltimore was a city approaching a million people and now it is a city moving down toward six hundred thousand. People moved out, jobs disappeared and the population suffered from a multitude of issues.

In Appalachia the coal era has been coming to an end. No, we can’t bring coal jobs back. The reasons are numerous and inevitable. Among them is the fact that clean, renewable energy has become economically viable.

We say we are having a heroin epidemic. The problems are much deeper and broader but rarely do we hear clear statements. It is a complex issue and requires complex answers. It is not merely addiction, there are societal and economic roots.

I’ll leave the list there for now.

The Need to Debate Responses

Instead of evaluating responses to our needs, we seem to be focused on political turmoil. Political parties serve useful purposes but are not an end in themselves. The keys may be found in representative government. Perhaps we need to be representing the needs of constituents and working to make compromises born of an understanding of complex and competing interests. We have found solutions and agreements in the past and its time to do it again. And that process takes debate and compromise.

And representing the needs of the public is found in getting out there and knocking on doors to gather constituent views and information. Certainly it helps to have candidates do some door knocking but trained volunteers can also gather information.

In Gaia’s Majesty

This is an unsettled time in the world and raises the specter of another major worldwide conflagration even as we face significant climate change issues. It is a time in which we need to explore our response to our future. In that environment I decided to explore thoughts and possibilities in the realm of fantasy fiction. And so the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy was born.

But this time on earth is new. At long last we are looking at a worldwide movement to empower women. The potential of half of our population has too often been stifled. That process appears to be changing and the idea that a greater role for women might just be a decisive factor in the challenge developing before us.

Enter the Tethyan people including the Andromeda defense force working under the vision and conviction of an earth goddess. This goddess is not merely a reflection of a facet of human conflict but rather a being who oversees the development of a promising population of animals.

We will see how decisive this time is and how important a role women will play in the outcome. For now we can enjoy a fantasy exploration and the view of enticing possibilities.
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Speculative Fiction – Inspiration, Personal Growth and Authenticity

 

Focus on Our Personal Meaning

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

The Core of Authenticity

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

Confession

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

A Little Closer to “Reality”

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

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

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

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

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Context of Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power

 

Childhood Innocence

One day in 1945 I was standing on Fifth Avenue with my aunts. Before us marched troops returning from the terrible world conflict which had just ended. Above us were flights of planes also proclaiming victory.

Five years later my family visited Europe. I recall the streets of London cleaned of rubble now to the side in seemingly endless piles. In France there were the faces of people haunted by the horrors of the Nazi occupation.

Only later did that child come to understand what had happened. America was rejoicing and building long hoped for prosperity after a punishing depression and war. The past haunted us even while we built a glorious future.

Something Felt Fundamental

Then came another demarkation I did not understand at the time, but it took the heart of a young man. Birth control was liberating women and they arose in the Women’s Liberation movement. I could feel the flowering of promise.

And now has come an era with an aura of fear. I’ve heard it said that what we are seeing is an era similar to what presaged World War I. Out of that prior era came the march to the terrible world conflict and the beginning of nuclear threat. Humankind has a history of waves both terrible and promising.

Direction Unknown

For a time there seemed to be more promise than threat, but now we see Europe trembling, Asia in fearful potential and even our beloved country reeling from an unexpected instability. We can only wonder if we may descend into another terrible era of conflict. Human history has repeated these kinds of errors.

Renewal of Hope

But like an echo, from a period decades ago there is a revolution which is occurring. And it is a revolution unexpectedly happening across the world. This time we call it the Empowerment of Women.

When I scan these recent decades I can feel my dreams and fears but now a special hope. All of these things came together in their own way to create the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

A Context of World Crisis

The context of the trilogy begins with many of the essential issues we see before us. In spite of the denials, the threat of climate change is upon us. A great variety of social crises are occurring. We also see oligarchs threatening the economic viability of countries and contributing to the failing of economic futures for so many people.

Center stage in the series is a movement with powerful women. Women were asserting their rights and place before World War I but could not turn the tide of war. But today women are rising up and may well be central to preserving our future. And, of course, in this trilogy a central force had to be a goddess.

We will see won’t we? What is before us deserves our attention and support.
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

The Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Book 1 is Here!

 

At Last! – Publication

It is my pleasure to announce that book 1 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy has been published. Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power is now available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon.

To me it feels that it has been so long in coming. What began as an idea for a story took on a life of its own. The story began to take on shapes not expected with characters showing up and demanding inclusion.

A Guiding Force

The guiding force was my belief that the movement to empower women is of unparalleled importance for the future of humankind and I thought fiction might be one way to explore and illustrate its significance and potential. And in an exploration truth of an emerging movement was inevitably illusive. Symbolism was essential.

We open with a couple ordained by our Earth Mother Gaia to find each other because their partnership was essential to a larger purpose. We don’t have to wait for them to fall in love. Their loving partnership begins early and is a harbinger of what may be found for the fulfillment of all of us but it also is a core around which the developing crisis of the world swirls.

A Heritage

In the end it is not a simple story alone. This couple has a heritage of people set aside to be stewards of the future of humankind and our planet. And among these people are the warrior women of the Andromeda. They fight for our future but not wantonly.The world these people lead is rich in potentials of so many kinds.

A Story of Our Future

Now we begin to unfold the exploration of our future and study its implications in the first book of the trilogy.

Join us in the exploration of this grand adventure. There is,the story itself, but also, in the reading, the possibility of the creation of a personal exploration. But above all, it is time to consider the meaning of the growing empowerment of women.

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

Expressiveness in Men and Women

 

How are your feelings manifested?

For most of my writing on the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the story and the characters seemed to flow out of my brain. Well, actually I did do an outline first but then the waves of details and change started to flow. For the outline I chose to use the tools found in Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks. It is actually aimed at creating scene plays but works wonderfully for novels as well.

Even with an outline I often felt on autopilot. Looking back it seems though that my right brain was dominant with a little assist from the left.

I wondered where my characterization of Avery, my lead female protagonist, came from. And I also had to look at how I characterized her guy, Beck. What I saw was that it came directly out of my work with couples in therapy of various kinds.

Recognizing Origins

Avery came out as a bright, dedicated woman but she could seem immature at times particularly when she was under stress. Of yes, having your life suddenly bombed and strafed and finding out you were part of an almost mythological body of humanity is stressful.

Certainly I wanted her to be interesting and to show emotions as she was swept out to sea as it were. But in working with couples I saw a characteristic difference overall between men and women. Women were more expressive of their emotions and the men seemed to be feeling less. Of course, what I learned over time was that they weren’t feeling less, but merely showing it less. And, in fact, there is actually research supporting that observation. When physiological indicators are measured it becomes clear men are feeling just as strongly as women, but contain it, often without tears.

So I was giving Avery free rein to show the emotional states she had to be having and Beck was more studied at least on the surface. The fact that she had a range of feelings, including some which might seem immature, was indicative of strength and not weakness. And the fact that Beck seemed more studied didn’t mean he cared less.

Our Truths Displayed Broadly

What was conveyed was human truth and we see it in places such as corporate or organizational meetings where women may show more depth of expression and, yes, be what we call emotional. When it occurs, the men often take it as a sign of weakness. Got it wrong guys. In fact, their own lack of expressiveness or muted expressiveness may be getting in the way of their homing in on the issue at hand. In some ways, with appropriate structure, laying out what we feel forthrightly helps us assess the matter at hand. Then we can move on to do the focused work needed.

The lesson is that, in writing, we might be less judgmental and more accepting of the flow which occurs. It displays how we are as people and the diversity we bring to our interactions. We can always redirect and hone our work later on. I’m sure Avery and Beck loved each other just that much more because of what they brought to the emotional table.

Where do you stand on the emotional landscape?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon Page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

My Valley of Spirits

Personal Alternatives

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Sometimes our lives open paths and perceptions totally unexpected. In an earlier post I outlined by experience with what we concluded was a ghost in our first home in Maryland. The theme deepened.

Now I’m going to have to admit more about who I am because it relates to what I am writing in this blog and in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. My external persona suggests calm, quiet introversion and probably mostly a fairly focused reality. Such a persona exists, but there is another one.

Quiet Beauty

We lived in the first house in Maryland only a year and early on searched for a home to buy. Since my wife wanted a horse, it had to be in the country. It wasn’t long before we found what we were looking for. It was in a small valley far out in the country. Since we didn’t have an appointment we couldn’t see the house but drove around and looked at its setting. I was instantly engaged and said, “The house is going to have to be terrible for me not to want it.”

It turned out to be a darling two hundred year old stone house set against a hill and looking out to a small river or “creek” as it was called. It needed work, but that just meant we could make it our own. Inside the house I sensed nothing except a calm atmosphere both welcoming and uncomplicated. Outside proved to be another matter entirely.

The Mystery of Evening

Since we were in a valley, the sun set behind the hills and we descended slowly into the fading light of evening. Many evenings I was drawn to stand on the upstairs porch and enjoy the peace.

Once upon a time the house had been on the road from Baltimore to York, Pennsylvania. On the far hill there was a road hidden by trees leading to the ruined foundations of a covered bridge. The impression of the road could still be perceived in the lawn and then ran up the hill on the other side. At dusk, many evenings, as the mist rose from the river, I had a hazy perception of the occasional traveler in a buggy.

One Saturday morning I rose and looked out to the river and had a perception of a union soldier on guard by the bridge. This would have been one of the routes to Gettysburg during the Civil War. I saw him one other time. Again, not clear, but a strong impression.
An Opening to the Depth of Life

What I came to feel was a depth of continuing life from the past leading into the future. The impressions in this landscape were various, unfocused but led me to an inescapable experience making me feel we only perceive a narrow slice of the life and types of life by which we are surrounded.

After all, our senses on a day to day basis serve us in specific ways and tell us little about what might surround us. I gained a new and deep perception on the property. It offered a richness of experience I found enchanting.

Then Came That Evening

As I said, the house itself was quiet, cozy and, I might even say, loving. But one evening I felt called outside again. Behind the house was a small hill. Rocky on the side toward the house, but even and inviting on top.

There was one place near the top that I had no reason to visit but it always held my attention. I felt something there. And then one evening I was drawn and climbed up the hill and sat down. I could feel a presence. No words were spoken. Gradually I had memories of when I was a child and my fear of darkness. While those fears declined as an adult, they remained with me. That night they vanished—forever.

The Lesson

My time in that valley was a rich experience. I came away with a greater depth of perception of the life of earth itself, of the fury there can be as in the day when a hurricane led to a rampage by the river. But above all it made me open my perceptions and the understanding that we are far from alone and may yet experience the diversity and depth of the life which surely surrounds us. These perceptions fed the story which evolved into the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

What life forms have you experienced?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon Page

Introducing the Women of the Andromeda

They Came and Conquered

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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 along side 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.

Is there an Amazon in your life?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon page