As We Enter A New Year

 

What Lies Before Us?

It is traditional at the beginning of each new year for us to explore its meaning and what it may hold. This year is no different but it appears to hold extraordinary possibilities. What may emerge is far from clear and we see both chaos and transformational themes on the horizon. But transformation is not always inspiring and uplifting. The possible transformation on a threatening world stage is something to be feared even while we see the wonderful transformation which may occur as women are released from subjugation and come to power.

Searching Future Possibilities

On my blog this year I will continue searching the landscape of our future. I should emphasize that I consider my blog posts to be what I call “thought documents”. I am an intuitive personality type which means my focus is on possibilities. And that is what I will seek in the posts. I will not attempt to be comprehensive for any given topic but will identify something worth considering.

Transformation

I truly believe we are facing transformation which can be devastating or uplifting in an extraordinary fashion. Perhaps it will involve a clashing of both types with our response yet to define where it will lead us.

When the idea of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy began to form I did not see where it would lead. Among the components were my being intrigued by the myth of the mermaid and at the same time I’ve been intrigued by the movement to bring women to power over the last few decades.

I thought I was writing a story but found an exploration. 

Partnership Rather Than Power

Perhaps the word power is not a good choice regarding women because if we were to replace the dominance of men by the dominance of women, perhaps we have missed a chance. Over the millenia humankind has grasped language, culture, extraordinary changes including such things as the Enlightenment. But now the better word related to our best opportunity refers to true partnership between men and women. Such a partnership can offer fulfilling potentials for all of us and provide a bastion of commitment to bring more dangerous forces under control.

This will truly be a fascinating time and for me it holds shining hope needed to support the development of our full potential. And in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy we see what powerful women may bring us.

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

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The Threat Imposed By Women

 

Yes I used this picture recently and I’ve put it up again because I find it evocative. See what it evokes in you as we consider our changing world especially as it relates to women and our future.

From a Base of Suppression

Perhaps only now are we realizing that women have been deliberately suppressed. Often it seemed they simply stayed home because that is where women belong and, of course, they had to tend the children. Doesn’t that sound absurd now because we can see what the reality has been in many regards.

So, now we search for other explanations and one place to look is in the world of men. It is plausible that one reason women were suppressed was a matter of power and in the cultural context it was easy to use power at least against women. But now the power is being exposed.

Another Explanation

But there is something else which is a suitable theme and that is the matter of threat. Seriously? Have they been brandishing knives or something? No, it’s something less concrete.

I recall a song from long ago in which part of it was, “Run when church bells ring”, and “It could happen to you.” That’s right. Women are attractive and can “confine” men in marriage. And then they bring an additional confinement—children.

This circumstance is not a matter of power but of confinement and reduced autonomy. But, let’s face it, it is essential in many ways.

Competition

And then there is the job market. When women join the company they compete for positions. In the past though they came with fewer credentials and less education. That’s all changing. In fact their talents are manifest and competitive. It used to be it was only other men that men had to worry about as they climbed the corporate ladder. Now women are present.

Politics

 And now it seems everything is being reduced to politics. In this instance I firmly believe we are simply looking at a change in the social landscape, not just of the United States, but in the world. There are books outlining the changes which led to this wave of change. I won’t try to go into them but it is clear the change is major.

What We Gain

Yes, women are challenging us if only because they add breadth to the talent available in all walks of life. Now, suddenly, the other half of the world brings their array of talents. We have tried to silence them just as Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced in Congress recently. But increasingly men are joining them and supporting their efforts and talent. 

I’m stunned by what I see on television. They have joined in the commentary and are prominent in ways seemingly impossible a short time ago. They are not shrill or strident but plausible and talented. This is true in business, the medical profession, news media and on and on.

The woman’s place is in the home if she chooses but it is not required. When I was first driving women were assumed to be bad drivers—no longer. We have also discovered how talented they are and how they enhance all parts of our lives. And perhaps another wonderful part is that men are discovering they don’t have to run when church bells ring but can if they choose.

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

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Building a Future in the Postcapitalism Era

What do you think will characterize our future?

It Didn’t Work Out As Hoped

Not long ago we had the Arab Spring and the hope that there would be a graceful resolution for a troubled Middle East. There were other hopes and the world and America seemed to have drawn back from an abyss following the Great Recession.

Yes, the United States has made a good recovery but we seem to have unsettled footing which very much includes a rather surprising and frightening race for the presidency. There are multiple signs suggesting our country and the world is entering a very unstable period.

Present Reality Addressing the Future

And then I picked up a book called Postcapitalism – A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason. It is dense and fraught with discussions of failed economic theories and conflicts. It was so difficult I had to read it twice but I couldn’t put it away. He suggests that we are at the end of a long economic wave and that capitalism is collapsing. The book can be dismissed as both overly pessimistic and utopian all at the same time. I found it to be neither because in so many instances I could see what he was warning about was already occurring whether it is what happened to Greece, Brexit, a failing Italian banking system, American college debt, a stagnant American Middle Class etc.

Data at our Fingertips

He points out a series of endeavors and policies which could help us head off catastrophe in climate change, demographic devastation in elderly populations and the need for extensive financial system reforms. One thing he points out that is markedly different in this environment is the information revolution. Among other things there is an extraordinary pool of data out there. It could be employed to shape our future and to create new systems both economic and social. Part of the process is no cost systems such as Wikipedia. He points to such endeavors where costs are going to zero.

Fifty Years Too Soon

And then I was struck by something. I wrote a book entitled Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.  In the 1960s a public health model was applied to mental health services. It was supposed to bring affordable and effective services to all the people of our country. It failed. I wrote the book about my experiences in the movement because I thought our experiences were worth being in the record.

It occurred to me that in some ways the movement had been created fifty years too soon. At the time it failed because of lack of vision on the part of senior mental health professionals, a focus on status, interest only in grant money, failure to look beyond existing systems. In fact, if the young professionals had been in an era of information technology we could have documented the essence of an impoverished community, the flaws which caused such pain and suffering, the essential points of intervention and the planning needed to build ameliorative services. In fact, the nature of the communities was the major problem and we worked on economic and social issues rather than mental pathology. It all could have been documented, organized and systems designed. But narrow and selfish perceptions caused it to fail.

Breathtaking Potential

Mason’s Postcapitalism points the way to a promising kind of process and I could feel how what our young staff did in the 1960s could be used in the here and now in cost effective and productive ways to build diverse and social movements within such a community, through peer systems and economic system focus. Of course it would involve designing markedly more efficient physical health care systems as well. It was all there in the minds of young professionals but the time was wrong. This revelation alone told me that we have a huge opportunity as capitalism reaches its final wave. Will we have the wisdom or will we be inundated by climate failure, demographic chaos, economic mismanagement, Political naivete,   and social failure? We will see.

What systems for the future would you design?

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 New Age Blossoming – 3

Women Emerging – Building Our Future – 3

Something Unexpected

When I was in graduate school in the 1960s there were not a lot of women psychologists and few women in my graduate school class. They seemed ill at ease and I think they sensed something like not belonging. The horizon did not suggest change of their position. Little did we know.

Something Was Different

As I noted in part one of this series, my guide in my first job after getting my Ph.D. was a black woman. I hadn’t been searching for major changes but found them. Yes, I was looking for a new way to deliver mental health services but the possibilities offered were beyond what I had expected. And, honestly, I had not been yearning for a new day for women. But it was developing.

Of course my perspective was not their perspective but quickly I could see an advocacy for change on their part. Some of the women were angry and they were beginning to stand up for themselves.

Women’s Liberation 

Women’s Liberation was what it was called at the time and, for a reason I will never understand, it resonated with me at once. At a convention I heard women were meeting and went to attend. But I was turned away and now I understand why. Men were often arrogant and wanted to assert their power. So, the women needed to meet together first while they laid their own plans and learned to be assertive, even demanding.

That period was the beginning of what I repeatedly call the long wave. It seemed to go underground for awhile but never disappeared. Gradually women gained position and acceptance at least among some men. But, many of us continued to view a problem with older white men. Racism and sexism were part of their problem and we are still working on it.

Broadening the Movement 

And now the women’s movement is multifaceted with women who are willing to assert in general and specific ways. Suddenly we are in touch with the #MeToo movement. It took ever so long to get here but women are now speaking out about the sexual abuse they have suffered. At last they seem to feel safe enough-sometimes.

I think we are going to find there is a long way to go. Surely we will see unexpected revelations and certainly there will be many things exposed. But it seems unlikely we will turn back now and it is all, in the end, a breath of fresh air even if the revelations may sometimes smell badly.

What of Men?

Are men supposed to support the movement? I ask that obvious question because we should not just be observers. Support is indicated. We are seeing that we are opening the full inclusion of women and that means bringing in the full potential of 50% of our population.

But there is another question. Are men to simply approve and support or are we willing to face ourselves? Are we willing to examine the male culture with all its strengths and unfortunate proclivities? My view as a man is that there is often a shocking lack of morality, there is often intimidation which may, for example, be related to the demand for devotion to sports. It seems we have not yet examined things enough to really understand what happens to us and the revolution which is needed among men for men and all of us.

It is not enough to welcome women to equality. In fact we are still a long ways away. But, from my perspective, all of us must face the arrogance and assumptions of superiority of older white men. Our country will soon tip from a dominant white culture to a multiracial society. On our way we have to face the reality of the dominance which there has been for far too long. And it would certainly help if older white men would face themselves.

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

Time To Face Facts

 

 

I couldn’t resist this picture. It is open to multiple interpretations. One is women’s confinement and restriction. Another, how they are forced into being chained together as they seek justice. Make your own interpretation as we continue our struggles for their equality and justified power of women

Not a New Set of Issues

After decades working as a clinical psychologist I can clearly see the vulnerability of women and how often they were subjected to abuse and violation. Recent events with Judge Kananaugh and Dr. Blasey Ford brought back a significant memory.

One person stands out in my memory as illustrative of the current issues. She came to my office seeking psychotherapy for an enduring depression. We began to explore its origins and found it had endured for at least two decades. But we seemed to be getting nowhere until one day she fell utterly silent. I waited and at last she began to talk about being raped decades before. She had told no one and endured continuing pain.

Finally I could see the base of the depression. She felt that the rapist still controlled and constricted her life. Once that was out in the open, the depression began to resolve and in a matter of days she was taking back control of her life and her future.

What We Must Understand

The recent reports of what happened to Dr. Blasey Ford show how the victims are often blamed and treated badly. Of course, in the climate that has endured, women generally do not report the crime. And when they do, as we see now, they are often abused again—publicly. They may suffer death threats and find themselves and their family at risk.

A Societal Problem

It is clear we have a societal problem and a male culture problem. In society we are willing to stand by and see the victim suffer further abuse as if they are the one who is at fault. Certainly many people are stepping forward to support Dr. Blasey Ford and to state outrage at the victimization of she and her family. Many other people seem to view a woman who is so victimized and abused by rape as being despoiled. Have we no shame? It is not permissible to treat women in this fashion.

A Male Culture Problem

And then there is the matter of the male culture which too often excuses such male behavior or even supports it as a man’s right. Yes, it goes that far and demonstrates a misperception of what is appropriate and a terrible misogyny. 

In general the male is generally expected to express interest in a woman and then she has to draw the line she feels the need to draw and he must withdraw. But too often he does not and aggression may be fostered by the support of his male fellows.

Seeking National Morality and Fairness

Now is the time when women are becoming empowered and are speaking out. But the opposition to them speaking out and asserting themselves goes to the intolerable and

boorish. Now we need to evaluate ourselves as a society and for men to examine their own culture. Abuse of women is not a male value to be fostered or supported.

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