Studying Our Future

 

Being Taken Back

This past weekend has highlighted essential problems in our country. But what happened does not stand alone. Yes, we have a racist president who is fomenting hatred and discord.

But there is a larger context. I have been choking back tears the last few days. I am buffeted by conflicted feelings. I find myself reeling back to the 1960s when there was deep conflict and commitment to change and reform. At that time I was working on the impoverished streets of inner city Baltimore.

A Difficult Reality

I had just finished my studies at Duke University and was still deeply troubled by the entrenched racism I had experienced in North Carolina. This privileged young white man had, for the first time, experienced personally directed racism because he was a “Yankee”. My impression of entrenched problems has been enduring.

When I went to Baltimore I have to say I was an innocent. The idea of bringing mental health services to those people was alluring. And then came the reality of poverty and the meaning of life on those streets. 

On The Streets

Not everyone came to an office for help. We went out to their homes frequently. When I went to a building I learned that the facade told me little but I could know something about what things were like inside by the condition of the front door. At times I also went to the high rises. Often the elevators weren’t working so I would stop at the base of the stairs look, study, sniff and listen for clues about activities in the stairwell. 

Fortunately I had some good people around me to offer guidance and advice. And often they were women and together we fought the entrenched special interests of older white men who had little commitment to our mission but were committed to their own privilege and aggrandizement. The commonality of what is happening in our country now is stunning me. In that focused sense nothing has changed.

A Danger Point

I also must say from my decades long perspective that I see us at a serious danger point. It can be focused nationally but also at the world level. Suddenly after this last weekend we are gaining clarity about special challenge in America. Will we respond or will racism and corruption continue to rule? 

I didn’t realize it at the time but fundamental themes I have experienced in life directed my fiction writing in the Gaia’s Majesty Series. As I’ve said before, empowerment of women was central but so too was the corrupt rule of older white men. And now that I am an older white man, my commitment to our future and overcoming detriments to our future has not abated.

Transformation and Challenge

The third book in the series is called Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation and transformation is the key word I am looking at in our present crises. We can descend into decades of war and utter destruction as we have before or we can rise up with renewed commitment such as we saw in the 1960s. Now that men can ally themselves with women in a committed alliance we have the chance to have an important transformation which will benefit not just America but the world. Our leadership in the world is being sabotaged and it is essential that we take it back.

Are we up to the challenge? Will we seize the promise of our future?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

It’s Not Politics

 

An Opening Comment

My plans for this blog were originally related to a desire to publicize my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy, a work of magical realism. Two major themes in the series relate to a growing world crisis and the other to the empowerment of women. It is said I should not endanger the promotion of my series by making other comments. Well, I’ve had it. I cannot stay back from commenting on disgraceful events in our country presently. I have a history in which I dealt with Baltimore poverty, southern racism, drug abuse, employment issues and beyond. Part of the time I”m going to address these issues. Some people may take offense. So be it. Others, I hope will be engaged by the reality of the struggles of our country. America has been a noble experiment and must be defended.

Facing Truth and Reality

Listening to the news suggests that politics is the only thing going on. Everything is reduced to or connected to politics.

Here is one definition of politics –    the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.

A Broader Perspective

Granted politics can affect many components of our lives but we need to address issues specifically because much of what affects our lives is not defined by politics. Do you have enough money to live on? How do you like your child’s pediatrician?

When you address specifics, distinct issues emerge. They may not relate to politics or may only in some fashion. But what is happening to people is that they are being split into factions seemingly at war with each other. And linking everything to politics increases the division and in the end makes many people turn away from dealing with specific matters needing attention. When they turn away and turn off they tend not to vote and work on crucial issues. We need to come back to dealing with the issues in our lives.

Broad Issues

The wealth of our country has been flowing to a smaller and smaller number of people who already have great wealth. More and more people are joining the ranks of who we call “The left behinds.”  I was part of the health delivery system in my career and we have a markedly inefficient and unfair system. It needs to be modernized or we will fall even farther behind the rest of the world. The job world is changing and we are failing to look at what is emerging and how we can help our citizens adapt and join the new work forces. In another post I have addressed a lot of those issues.

Then There Is Morality

This is the issue that has absolutely grasped my attention. There are now a great number of corrupt people who are grasping at power at our expense. They fall in every level of business and government. What is truly troubling is that they are now engaging in their corruption openly in ways many of us would never have expected. And with many of our people turning away they are creating a corrupt, immoral society I never would have expected. This is not the America I thought we were and we need to turn back and drag these people down and that often should mean sending them to prison.

The Bottom Line

At base we need to rise to the defense of our country and our future, not to mention our children and grandchildren. The terrible immorality and corruption we are seeing on the national stage is terrible to see. Are we a people who are willing to tolerate publicly abusing children and tearing families apart. There are sub issues but just what we see on the surface makes me shudder and wonder who we have become.

I didn’t realize it at the time but when I began to write my Gaia’s Majesty series I was responding to the corrupt power elite in this country. And with my lead characters, including the warrior women called the Andromeda, I was attending to the empowerment of women.

In our day to day lives it is time for us to look at who we are, study issues aside from politics, make plans, dig in to do planning and above all return to who we thought we were.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Truth About the South and Democrats

 

Let’s Get Real

I was born in Queens, New York and grew up around New York. I went to college in Michigan and in 1963 moved to North Carolina to begin work on my doctorate in psychology at Duke University.

I was utterly unprepared for the reality of the South one hundred years after the end of the Civil War.  As I had said previously I was not expecting to endure such prejudice. This privileged young white man was vilified for being a “Yankee”. I learned a southern accent so I could be served at the parts store to buy spark plugs for my car. An end to innocence.

Time to Vote

I grew up in the Republican Party and turned 21 (the voting age then) in North Carolina. I registered as a Democrat because I wanted my vote to count. Often there were as many as four primaries to decide who the Democratic nominee would be. Most Republicans were black. They never won office.

When I went to register I check off C for caucasian which infuriated the woman at the desk because C was for colored. (I couldn’t resist the nudge.)

About the Democratic Party in the South

It is often said that the Democrats lost the South recently. Sheer nonsense. The Democratic Party never had the South. Lincoln was a Republican and they wanted nothing to do with his party so took the name Democrat. It was name only.

The furor about Biden and Southern Democrats has failed to deal with reality, complexity and truth. Real Democrats did a dance with southern racists as a means of assembling votes for legislative purposes.

It was ugly and disappointing but reflected a complicated reality.

The South Now

Eventually the Republican Party took hold in the South and we see it dominant today. The unfortunate reality is that racism is still a major issue at a level higher than anywhere else in the country. One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War the battle continues. And we can see it displayed in the supporters of Trump.

Moving On

We need to stop the petty backbiting now. We are seeing the ugliest side of our country displayed in this era of Trump. The Republican Party I grew up in is dead. The upcoming election may well determine whether we as a country will be mired in prejudice and ignorance and whether we contribute to dragging the world into a terrible conflict. Alternatively we may pursue a new and visionary view for our country. We have never had more crucial choices. And making the choices mean facing harsh and complex realities.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-ChallengeThe Truth

This Is Not The America I Thought We Were

 

The World Opens

In 1945 my aunts took me to a victory parade on Fifth Avenue in New York. Masses of troops paraded down the Avenue to a cheering crowed with planes flying low above. It was an unforgettable experience

World War II had seemed distant with only an occasional intrusion such as the night I was seated in a window seat looking out at a darkened city and dim sparkles of light in the rain. There came a knock on the door. It was our block captain cautioning us about our blackout curtains being open. My father was a surgeon and had an A sticker on his car indicating he could buy gas when he needed it. My mother peeled off stickers for food. Otherwise I was an innocent.

Collectively We Rejoiced

We watched as towns sprouted to house the families created by returning troops. In 1952 we sat late into the evening before our twelve inch black and white television and cheered as we watched the election of our hero Dwight Eisenhower to the presidency. 

The early years assured I would watch events in our country and the world with great interest.

When I graduated from college at the University of Michigan my new wife and I moved to North Carolina where I was to begin my studies for my doctorate in clinical psychology.

Early Painful Revelations

It was the 1960s and the civil rights movement was growing. I was shocked at the racism I saw and, as the child of a privileged family at the discrimination I experienced because I was a “Yankee”. My interest and distress deepened as I worked to serve the impoverished people in the inner city of Baltimore.

One of the things I learned in college was about cultural flow from the impressive Leslie White, the father of cultural anthropology. What he taught stayed with  me and I could see that culture and its impact were all around us and changing constantlyl. I learned to detach it from politics which is only part of the picture.

It is About Culture. Not about Politics

Presently we are making the mistake of reducing everything to politics. What is happening now is an outgrowth of who we are and I am truly shocked to see it. I never expected to see someone like Trump elected president and do not view him as representative of a political party. The narcissism and corruption is shocking. And as someone who grew up in a Republican family I do not know who these people are who claim to be Republicans. I view them as betraying our country.

Even worse I see 40% of our country supporting Trump. I truly did not know they existed and I see them as betraying themselves and their future. I not only did not know this about our country but hope that we can salvage ourselves. 

I am especially disappointed in the men who lean more heavily into the dysfunction. It seems that our women have a much better perspective.

If we do not win this battle against this turn of culture we will not only damage our future but the future of the world as well. instability is growing across Europe and we are seeing corrupt regimes which are damaging much other relations.

We will see shortly but I clearly believe that our future will be created in the election of 2020. If we rise to the occasion we can turn our destiny back toward who we thought we were or descend deeper into something we thought unimaginable.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them.

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.)

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.)

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

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

It’s Not Politics – We Are All Racists

 

 

Making Sense of Noise

The noise is overwhelming and requires some attention and sorting out. We see so much national chaos at this point that we are losing track of major issues and what they represent. There seems to be little in the way of careful examination of issues and origins and so many things are getting lumped into politics where people are trying to manipulate the public. The foremost example at this moment is the issue of racism. Let me clarify.

The Title

The title of this blog post is the key point and does not represent anything approaching an excuse. On the matter of racism what we must see is that racism is not necessarily anything political. We are all racists. That is a fact and let me explain my view.

My Recognition

Long ago I took a job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore. Our staff was triracial. Innocently we began our work and very soon, in spite of our shared commitment, we felt the impulse to point fingers. I will never forget the morning after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Baltimore was in a growing riot mode but I made it to our offices. In the conference room sat the black staff huddled together. They looked up as if I was a stranger. By mid morning everyone was at work and we began to work to break down the barriers. Over time we dealt with fundamental truths.

How We Are As Human Beings

I’m going to simplify this because the issues and origins are, indeed, complex. Of all things humans focus on faces. It begins early when we are infants. Our survival depends upon attachment and we hold our family (our people) dear. The implications relate to the fact that we are tribal creatures and cleave to our own. That is universal.

I recall a trip to Germany and standing in a city in southwest Germany captivated by the women riding by on their bicycles. My wife’s father’s family had come from a nearby region. I didn’t know it at the time but part of my mother’s family had originated in that area as well.I was seeing very familiar faces deeply etched in me. Of course they got my attention and I was drawn in.

We have a lot of people of German origins in the United States and after World War II when we sent our men in to help Germany pull back together it was easier because of the number of German names and familiar faces. These and related facts must be stressed.

Culture and Familiarity

As humans we also carry culture and how we act and what we like and on and on draws us together—and apart. If our voices or ways of doing things are different, it sets us apart. Every day we attend to differences and how we respond. And much of this reduces our discriminatory responses and helps create what we call racism.

A Simplistic Complexity

It boils down to these and many other subtleties that bring some of us together and others of us apart. Every day we need to be aware of how we are as human beings which means that we each carry some form of racism. From that fact grows a lot of things but now it relates to what we are terming our political life.

My people emigrated here over 300 years ago and it is crucial that we all remind ourselves of our origins, why our families came here and that we need each other. Owning who we are and our inclinations for racism is crucial and it must be done daily. Let’s dim down the noise and make ourselves celebrate the success which is our immigrant nation. We must not lose what we have built. And handling our own racism is an ongoing personal job. Right now too many people (including many of our leaders) are sabotaging our integrity and future as they call out and utilize their racism for political purposes. Our future demands honesty, integrity and management of how we are as people.

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

An Important Post For The Moment

Recently I said I’m trying to stay away from politics on this blog. Some things have happened recently which some would see as political. Instead I have to say I see them as events which relate substantively to who we are and the future of America in the world. Below is a post from the delconsuiltblog of my friend Helen Delaney. I had to share it.

Unfollow me, unfriend me.

by delconsult

 

Just three days ago, a friend asked me why I stopped writing my blog. One of the reasons, I told him, was that I just didn’t believe in talking unless I had something to say. I told him that I had run out of things to say, and that I just couldn’t bore my friends for the sake of maintaining a blog. Besides, I wanted to turn my energy toward my second book. That was three days ago. That was before my ancestors came into my consciousness and nudged me in their ever-so-gentle way. The way spirits do.

 

I have never expressed my personal political views on this blog or any public media outlet because I saw no value in it. My position was that people will believe what they want to believe, and that my political views, no matter what they were, would attract anonymous, angry people with nothing better to do than to sling mud from behind the safety of their darkened rooms and backlit computer screens.  I don’t enjoy conflict, online or off, and so I kept my views to myself. But now, I’m done. I’m done, because I am here, alive in my body, in this country, on this tortured night, representing my ancestors.

 

Let me introduce them: My maternal grandmother: Her name was Sarah. Her father was German, her mother African American. Her husband’s mother, my great grandmother: Her name was Elizabeth, and she came to this country from Syria. I’m sure that wasn’t her name when she stepped up to the immigration official to be registered. Then, there is my paternal grandfather. His name was Edward and he was all or part Native American. Cherokee. His wife, Helen, came from a family of Irish indentured slaves. My parents were the “mixed blood” children of those I have named. They lived in South Carolina before and at the turn of the last century. In this country, they were all either indentured whites (in our case dis-owned by their families), or Negroes. I’ve seen the census reports.

 

I cannot imagine the bravery, courage, or the depth and breadth of love it must have taken for them to raise families of seven, eight children. Or just to stay alive. I also represent their children, uncles who fought in both World Wars, my father, who wore a policeman’s badge in Philadelphia for 35 years, a man of color who could not rise in the ranks but who nevertheless served and protected all the citizens of that city, my mother, who broke ranks with her family to come North with my father so that I and my brothers could live a life that was free of harassment, degradation, fear, and sorrow. Or so they thought.

 

When a black man was elected President of the United States, my husband and I sat before the television set and watched Barack Obama and his family write a chapter in history unlike any before it, except, perhaps, the one written by Abraham Lincoln.  At last, I told my husband, the tears running down my face, our country has become what it said it would. It has marched steadily toward its own ideals. It has kept its promise. My husband, who was Irish American, nodded, tears blinding his own eyes. We were proud of our country. We were proud that the idea of freedom, that the experiment in equality, the stumbling, difficult climb into a true democracy, and the repudiation of all things indecent, had made us the most powerful, important nation on the planet. We were not to know, on that night, that it was only a moment in time.

 

We have taken a step backward to a place my ancestors would recognize. My tears tonight are ones of grief. I am not proud. I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I must accept sympathy from my friends around the world. I am ashamed that our doors are slamming shut against people like my ancestors, and that all sense of generosity, compassion, and conscience seem to be absent from the hearts of those who could make it different. I am ashamed that once again, my ancestors are the subjects of hate and derision. No wonder they won’t let me alone.

 

And now, I’m done. I can no longer be quiet. I speak for those who came before me, those who gave me life, and for my children and my grandchildren. Today and ever after, I disavow the indecent, hateful bigotry that is despoiling my country and the man who is the face and the voice of it.

 

And I say to you, whoever may be reading this blog – if, after what has happened in the past two days, indeed in the past year, you can still support the man in the White House, his ideas, his language, and behavior, you support everything I, as an American, as an African American, as an Irish American, as a German American, as the great granddaughter of a Syrian woman, and the granddaughter of a Native American man, abhor, and I ask you to unfollow me. If you are a “friend” on Facebook, I ask you to unfriend me now.

 

This is the time to take a stand. It is time to speak clearly. No more excuses, no more mealy-mouthed explanations.  No more burying heads in the sand. It’s over. The President of the United States is a racist. I repudiate that hateful concept, and I repudiate him.

 

Matthew said it: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Choose your camp.

 

 

 

 

Our Nation in Crisis – An American Vision: Part 5

 

Responding to Problems – Two Examples

An Epidemic of Drug Abuse

We are told we have a national heroin epidemic. Probably not quite. That’s an easy description.

It seems that we have been passing out prescription pain medication a little too easily. I have not heard a clear statement about why this issue is suddenly so prominent. If the issue is pain, then what kind of pain are we dealing with and why is it happening? Is it physical or emotional? Regardless of why, it is an issue and why is it happening?

And then we come to the issue of how we respond. After I left my job in the inner city of Baltimore I got a call from the man who had been our lead community organizer. He had become the administrative head of a drug treatment program generally referred to as a methadone program. He asked me to become a clinical consultant. Most of the staff were social workers and counselors (recovering addicts) and he thought, with my time on the street, I could help the staff especially since they were not meshing well with the psychiatrists. Fine with me.

What I found was not a nest of recovering heroin addicts but a diverse group of all kinds of people wrestling with a myriad of drug problems. It didn’t matter whether it was heroin, opioids, hallucinogens, or any other drug, they all had personal and vocational issues. In short, we had to respond to the human condition and it did not reduce to one form of treatment. People are different and programs need to be flexible.

It seems we have a national problem with one indicator being drug issues. Much of the problem involves factors discussed previously. The question is what we are dealing with and how wisely we respond.
Empowerment or Subjugation of Women

And then there are issues which are basic and may be wholly unrecognized.

One of the things that interests me as a psychologist is the operation of the unconscious mind. Above I mentioned that we are all racists and it is clear racism operates generally as an unconscious attitude. There is another unconscious attitude which appears fairly universal and that is misogyny. It is generally defined as dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. How can this be so widespread? We are talking about our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters. I don’t have a ready answer about the reason for its existence but it is clearly pervasive. It had an effect in our recent election.

I have some thoughts. Misogyny leads to women being subjugated and dismissed. Often it is said that it is about maintaining control of paternity. That is hardly a sufficient answer because it is so widespread even where paternity is not at issue. More likely is the matter of power and possession. Men do not like to yield power and in relationships it is desirable for them to yield to the creation of a partnership. Sometimes they do in their own relationship but will fight against the rights of women in general. It is a curiously complex phenomenon.

Another area where it is apparent is sexually. Women captivate men emotionally and in the sexual release there is a yielding of power which, while men want it, they may have trouble with the outcome of the experience. No matter how we look at it, women are somehow threatening to men and men often feel women must be controlled.

As we look at our troubled future it is apparent that women can play an important role in building a constructive future. It would help if we could understand that, just as with racism, there is an unconscious need to control women. Men would benefit from understanding why there is this fight within themselves. We can already see that microloans for women are having huge benefits, personally, in their families and in their communities. Recognizing and owning the process underlying misogyny would pay huge benefits.

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

Baltimore! What have we done?

 

Why do you think the disorders in Baltimore occurred?

Revisiting Baltimore

Recently an appointment in Baltimore led me on a tour of the city. Once again I had to revisit what I had seen happen in the city. The scars are still very much in evidence. I thought it time to republish this post. We are doing better in some regards but in many others we still are not attending to the needs of our people.

A National Outrage

One essential theme in this blog is the empowerment of women and there are other secondary themes. From time to time I’m going to touch on these other themes.

In this instance I’m going to relate a matter of history. Not long ago Freddie Gray died after his arrest in Baltimore. Riots followed. Across the country we are seeing indications of abuse of power by the police but abuses and dysfunction will happen in most institutions from time to time. This death may or may not reflect racism. Racism remains an issue in our society but we have to assume that some of the worst abuses are committed by a few people who probably can be described as “bad apples”. And there may be other outside factors involved.

There is an illuminating background story I have to tell about what happened in Baltimore. In 1967 I was one of the first people hired in one of the first community mental health programs in the country. With my newly minted Ph.D. from Duke I took up station in the inner city. In another post I’ll give a broader view of the experience. But for now I will focus on police community relations and national policy.

A Dreadful Change

Do you remember touching movies from the 40s and 50s where the much beloved police officer patrolled on foot? He was well known in the community and the grocer would give him an apple as he passed. That was all to change. About the time I went to work, the police were instructed to pick up homeless or assumedly mentally ill people and remove them to a lockup for evaluation. The police were given a very new role and it led to terrible scenes in the community. There was a dreadful decline in the relationship between police and the community. There are probably no police currently working in Baltimore who were there at the time. The police did not want this role but were given no choice.

Making War on Our Society

The next large step in the deterioration of relations came in the 80s with the war on drugs/war on crime. This was a monumental bipartisan error. Now the police were forced into stop and frisk, would stop drivers for minor infractions, and then (although they had no real right) would search the car. If they found even a small amount of a controlled substance there was an arrest.

At the time laws had been enacted with lengthy mandatory minimum sentences. Now the police were even more intrusive and the division from the community deepened. Across the country this travesty was repeated with both community and police being the victims. Nationally our prison population swelled from one million to 2.4 million.

Immense Suffering

The outcome could be seen on the streets. We drove through Baltimore one morning recently and saw young men sitting on blankets or sheets of plastic on the sidewalks trying to sell a few items. These were the victims of what WE had done. They came out of prison after lengthy sentences with no job history or skills. In many instances they could only make a living with crime.

And, even if we assume the death of Freddie Gray was a terrible error and unintended, even so it stirred a community to a violent outburst because of the divisions that had been created.

How many politicians have you heard address the reality of these issues?

What we have done has been a blight on our communities, the police and our country.

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

Our Nation in Crisis – An American Vision: Part 3

 

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Lessons Learned 

The list of issues we need to face is long. I will touch on only two of them today.

Racism – Long ago and far away I learned a lesson about racism. It is ever so simple. We are all racists.

After graduate school I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore. It was a groundbreaking movement in mental health which was designed to bring mental health services to all people. Most of the line staff were twenty somethings and the era in which we lived was the now famous sixties of revolution and reformation. We came prepared to break ground and immediately had to face ourselves. The staff was triracial and we had to face inevitable tensions. Call it racial or tribal, it comes to have the same problematic effects. Early on we recognized it and dealt with it and even with our commitment is took determination.

Our conclusion was the obvious fact that we are social animals and what that means is that we cleave to our own. Each group has its own culture, language and even facial features. We turn to what and to whom we are most familiar. It creates tension unless we own it, admit it and work it out together. We did that and could see that it was inherent.

And now, in this era we are seeing people resist coming together. Part of the process should be very familiar. With each wave of immigration there has been tension. The Irish were reviled as were the Germans and Italians in turn. Now it is Muslims and latinos who compose the largest groups. We can face it, reach out or purge our integrity.

Accepting and Responding to Waves

And then there is a larger picture.

At the end of World War II something interesting happened. Millions of our citizens returned from war. Many had come from rural areas and had grown up on farms or worked on farms. Did they return to the farm? No, very many of them did not. They were offered educations and went to work in industry. Of course, it was not that simple. The small government advocates did not want the government to offer support for education. But reason prevailed.

Education levels swelled nationally, families were established in new environments and the economy grew. We had the good fortune to be the only major country standing and we took the opportunity.

That wave has come to an end and in the book Postcapitalism Paul Mason points out that we are entering a new wave. Actually there were different waves overlapping. The wave from before World War I concluded with the end of World War II. We entered a wave which led to strong economic development and many social changes. But there was another longer wave of capitalism and it is contended that it is ending and a new wave called Postcapitalism is replacing it. We have yet to understand what it will mean. But it would seem that education is yet again a major issue. With a new economic era our population much be educated/trained differently. We cannot move forward blindly. The price of many things is approached zero because of information technology and there are now processes where the use of workers is approaching zero.

Wikipedia along with the internet has obviated the need for an encyclopedia. We simply google something and the answer or answers are there. I no longer use a dictionary. Why would I. I can google a word, spell it wrong and friend google will correct me and provide alternatives.

And now when we go to the store we find, in most instances that there is no lower limit for using our credit card. Recently we asked at a hardware store if our little item could be charged. The clerk told us he had just taken a charge for $1.37. There is no human entering charges. The machine does it all and although machines do cost something, in the end, the sum total of cost is miniscule.

And so humans will have to do something else. And now we need wisdom, vision and flexibility.
When I sat down to write Gaia’s Majesty – Mission Called I found many of these themes crept into the work

What are the major things you have found you needed to adapt to?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt