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

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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.

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

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

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Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women and Our Future

 

Today Women and Our Future begins a new series. A major theme on this blog and an implicit theme in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy is the empowerment of women. I support the empowerment but also am utterly intrigued with the potential and where it may lead us. I’m going to begin with a reprise of a recent post and move from there to a number of topics.

Your commentary is welcomed and I would like to see us open an active exchange of views and explorations.

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The Not So Loyal Opposition

For you, what are the implications of the movement to empower women?

Opposing Empowerment

From history it is clear that there are very many people opposed to women being empowered. It was not so long ago that women did not have the right to vote. They had to be brave, march in the streets and insist that they should have such a right. In the 1960s came the women’s liberation movement. In some ways it was not an easy time for women. I recall women dressing in what amounted to men’s suits with ties. That form of dress was (thankfully) abandoned shortly. But we were all finding our way.

There were questions about who would support women being liberated and that included some women. At times it was all so tentative. I recall being at a convention and hearing there was to be a meeting of women about the issues. I showed up wanting to hear what they had to say and a stricken woman politely told me it was for women only. In retrospect I can see how they wanted to consider where they stood and what needed to be done without some male making possibly unwanted input, possibly in the form of “mansplaining”.

Male Subterfuges

And lets face it, whether men will say so out loud, many of them are opposed to women being empowered. And, of course, the question is why they should feel so threatened. Of course, they almost never put it that way. There were simple statements that a woman’s place was in the home, that it was unseemly what women were asking and on and on. Oh please, can we be honest?

Actually, I’m not so sure we can be honest because I think the issues are so fundamental and deep in the human psyche that I’m not sure we can easily be honest.

Such Breadth of Opposition!

And then there are other matters which are related. Recently it has come out that men in football are suffering terrible brain injuries from the brain bouncing around in the skull and from twisting of the brain stem. Suggesting there is a problem seems to be tantamount to taking away their masculinity. But the real point here is something else that came up in one discussion I heard. A couple of former players raised the issue of a player who came out and said he was gay. To put it mildly he was not treated well by his brother players. And then both of the former players commented that they thought the homophobia was simply another form of being antiwomen. I simply can’t respond to that thought in a simple fashion.

Expecting a Backlash

The bottom line here is that there is a lot more than meets the eye. Presently we have a war on women going on in the United States. Efforts are being made to restrict women’s reproductive rights which also relates to fundamental issues of health care. The talk is about opposition to abortion but, not for a second do I believe that is the issue. Women are not supposed to be empowered.

And I fully expect that I’m going to get some nastiness for supporting the movement and I think it will be disguised and, in fact, the men objecting may actually believe what they are saying. This is a very, very deep issue which will require exploration. And this issue is fundamentally underlying my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

I’ll have much more to say and some thoughts about the underlying issues.

How are you expecting the movement for empowerment will play out?

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

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

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A Collage of Reality

 

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A Collage of Reality

Are we really jugglers when it comes to reality?

A Mutable Reality

In fact, the mutable nature of reality as we see it is not strictly related to ourselves. It also relates to what is happening in the world around us. Concerning ourselves with reality is not just a personal phenomenon. Certainly we have to keep oriented in a world filled with stimuli. Maintaining a reality relates to things personal, social and environmental. We have to relate to all the different facets of our lives.

There is the matter of what we experience moment to moment but also phenomena and relationships throughout our life which, in itself, is a developmental process. And where we are going may be very different from where we think we are going.

Accepting Ongoing Adaptation

There was a time when vocational life was pretty much stable over our lifetime. A man would take up farming and that would be his life. A man would go to work for a company and retire from it. That is no longer the case. We cannot predict what our vocational future may be and cannot be sure of the duration of our relationships. All of those factors mean there must be many periods of adaptation.

Looking at our modern lives in that way shows why we must have an enduring belief in a stable reality. It is simply not feasible to consider all the possible variables at one given moment. It is really a tribute to our adaptability that we can maintain what we call sanity through all the changes and different stimuli. Finding enduring truth is difficult and keeping tabs on reality is a challenge.

The Larger Context

But, in the end, we have to move beyond personal considerations because there is an inevitable social context and we also keep an eye on the future of our species. In those contexts it is important for us to not simply watch developments among segments of people and political struggles. These things can confine our perceptions.

And it is the larger matters which concern me. In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I concern myself with the portrayal of what might be and how it might occur. It is not just a focus on stewardship and the wellbeing of the world. Certainly those are considerations, but within those issues lie the very real issue of how women will be seen and how they will participate. Again and again I come back to the belief that we are at a tipping point and the single most important issue to which we must attend is what is happening with women and where it will lead us.

Do you have a larger focus?

 

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

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Enduring Unresolved Problems

 

(I searched Dreamstime for a suitable image to portray the diverse themes of Roz’s piece and finally just settled on this image.)
Today’s post is from Roz Griffin. When I went to work in Baltimore’s inner city in 1967 she was the black woman social worker I found in the next office who took me out onto the streets. She became my mentor and guided our staff through conflict related to the stresses of poverty, the racism harbored in all of us and the professional conservatism which worked against appropriate needs for service.

From Roz:
The disorders/uprising that occurred in Baltimore happened  for a number of complicated reasons.  First, I do believe race played a role in the situation but structural racism probably more than individual racism.  I think implicit bias is embedded in society as well as the training of the police.  The concept that behaviors exhibited by a lead affected person such as Mr. Gray initiated an outbreak of violence conceals the definition why the outbreak took place. Those who set the spark may have had little forethought into what they wanted beyond a few minutes of personal relief  rather how to execute actions to extend to their broader communities better lives.  Perhaps, inner and outer peace to empower themselves was part of their output.

When funds were provided to begin to deal with the past manifested problems and those affected were given a role in crafting solutions, the power to participate and the funds were withdrawn because both became threats to the possibility of reordering the structural inequities. These perceived threats were both local and national.  If problems can be defined as either individual and or group pathologies, efforts at resolutions can be evaded. Hence, the prime reaction is to control those who are perceived as dysfunctional. This does not mean that some individuals do not possess the skills and knowledge to navigate for themselves and the community constructive changes.   The police become parties of control even more because few of them are from the city and have minimal stake in its future. Money is only one aspect of the solution because  the idea  of sharing power with the affected remains controversial with many who hold that power think power must be earned by some mythical extraordinary deeds or character attributes. President Obama’s tenure proved that this tenet is even questionable since his intellectual brilliance and legitimacy were under constant scrutiny.

I wish to make another observation that I believe the action is going to have regressive effects with the pronouncements that the federal justice department has decided to return to dealing with those involved with drug use and distribution with extreme prosecution. It appears there will be no distinction among those involved with drugs and the prison industry will be the winner with mass incarcerations of people of color. Another redefinition of the problem is likely to happen when the incarcerated are dominated by the privileged white classes. Consider how opioid overdoses are now medical problems and this was overlooked while the opioids were ravaging center cities and Appalachia. The former mayor of Baltimore, Curt Schmoke was castigated for recommending drug involvement be treated as a public health problem in stead  of a criminal problem.  Think what progress could been made. I guess some believe redefinition is “Making America Great Again.”  Anyone who is conversant with defining drug abuse as human failings during the past centuries is aware of morphine addiction with white women, soldiers and some famous persons that their use was “revised creating special classes of addicts.
The point is that the lessons learned are unlearned when it requires fundamental changes for those who are in power to be uncomfortable and listen to the other and to act affirmatively on the input.
Roz

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

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Thank You For Your Service

 

 

Have you ever had a stress reaction?

Have We Defined Stress Incorrectly?
Maybe our recent wars did not create an apocalypse for our nation, but we’re now facing some consequences of the wars. An apocalypse is ongoing for many of the residents of the Middle East but there is also significant distress among some people in our nation.

Some of that distress will be referred to as mental illness. I am not a huge fan of the medical model as it relates to mental and emotional functioning because I think there are often other more useful ways to look at some of the things that happen to us. We created the concept of mental health so that we could remove mental and emotional suffering from the hands of the church. It is no longer common to describe people as being possessed by the devil or demons. But sometimes viewing something as an illness is not useful either.

World War II Is Still With Us

Long before there was the currently popular Post Traumatic Stress Disorder we had war related stress problems but they were not diagnosed nor helped very effectively. We hear a great deal about PTSD currently. It almost sounds like it is a new problem.

I had a couple of awakenings in my practice over the years. In one instance a man came to see me about an ill-defined depression which had been nagging at him. We talked for several sessions until at last he said, “I think you need to meet my father”. His father had been a bomber pilot in World War II and had flown on both missions to destroy the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania. In each attack they lost 90% of the planes. His father had passed survivor guilt on to his son.

In another instance I was dealing with a young Jewish woman. Again, we were getting nowhere until she asked to bring her grandmother in. Her grandmother was a survivor of the Aushwitz concentration camp and had passed on this heritage within the family.

More Recent Events

It should not surprise anyone that we have similar problems for people who served in Vietnam and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. The revelations have been ongoing. From time to time I have occasion to talk with veterans. In one instance when I told a man that reactions to this stress were essentially normal there were tears in his eyes. He was grateful and said, “I thought I was mentally ill.”

Normalizing the Experience

The military is beginning to work to drop the D from PTSD because calling it a disorder is serving as a bar to seeking help. People don’t like being called mentally ill. The fact is that the types of reactions we are seeing should be characterized as normal reactions to prolonged stress. Exactly how is a person to feel when they spend every day killing people and having people trying to kill them? Since we don’t have a draft we have sent people back for multiple tours of duty which is utterly irresponsible.

Thank You For Your Service

Yes, we should thank them for their service but we are too often not giving them service in return. I used an image of a homeless serviceman for this post because it exemplifies the service we are not giving. They should not be suffering. Too often the wait times for those seeking help is much too long and there should be no veterans homeless on the street.

We are failing to step up to our obligations. Politicians are threatening more war and few are really responding to and supporting the response to real need created by past wars. The fact is that there are understandable reactions to prolonged stress and they can be dealt with.

On Another Note

There are other kinds of conflicts which we can view symbolically. 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

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Time for World Reformation or Devastation?

 

Is this a picture of the dawn of hope or the end of the world in fire?

Keeping Our Eyes Open and Head Clear

We seem to be teetering on the edge of something but the question is “of what?”.

Nothing Is Eternal

As I’ve said previously it was not long ago that we were looking at a world of dawning hope. The Arab Spring was growing, Europe showed ever so much promise and the world in general suggested progress. And then the downward spiral began.

The deterioration in the Middle East was striking, Europe showed signs of strain as Brexit surfaced and crises built across the world. What we need to ask ourselves is where this will lead. It may be something like how things were before World War I leading to decades of devastation of all kinds or it may indicate cracks in the facade of how things are which may mean opportunity.

Opportunity For Change

Whether we learned from the conflicts of the twentieth center is a key question. If we learned, then each crisis may be an opportunity in itself. Europe has seen what happened to Britain’s economy when they chose Brexit and it is hardly wonderful. In the Middle East we are seeing signs of new cooperation between nations and factions. And in the United States the old two party system is frayed and people are asking interesting questions. It may be that we can forge new alliances which can build new, more modern parties and open unexpected vistas for our population.

Facing Facts

Clearly we need new thinking and the end of the old system. It is clear that many kinds of industry are disappearing while new systems including information technology are appearing. But we need to rethink how we approach our economy and how jobs are shaped. People are going to have to be retrained and preparation for employment in general needs a new face.

How Novel!

In this postcapitalism era one of the ideas is for governments to provide a basic universal payment to all families. Say what? In fact, Switzerland is toying with just such an idea. Provide a fundamental base of support and you obviate many of the current forms of support such as disability payments, food programs and so forth. It is a fascinating idea which suggests exploration.

Building Constructive Change

We are entering a new era and, as stated above, we can view it is an opportunity for reform or resist it and inadvertently abet chaos and failure.

But, one thing is certain. The pace of change is increasing and we had best pay attention. New systems are evolving. Old industries and methods are going away. If nothing else, it is time to explore and see what we can sight on the horizon and how we might shape it.

What novel ideas would you like to explore?

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