Our Nation in Crisis – An American Vision: Part 1

What do you believe is the core we need to address?

The Need for Vision for an America in Crisis

This has been a grueling election process with a conclusion very few expected. Now we have to deal with the consequences. 

Our middle class has seen income stagnate over forty years. Income inequality has been substantial and is increasing. We have created a body of people we are calling “left behinds”. And through it all there has been a stunning lack of vision combined with obstruction of problem solving.

Being Driven By Emotions

Many people in this country have been hurt and they are angry. Anger often leads to a search for someone to blame and awakens prejudice. We are just beginning to see and feel what fruits it will bear. Emotion, especially in the absence of constructive action may lead to feelings of hopelessness. People will strike out. Possibly they will strike first at the ballot box but surely more definitively in time. We wait to see where it will lead.

Seeing the Consequences

While I surveyed the national landscape, one of my daughters sent me this link to a Huffington Post article. I was stunned. The man had outlined the exact set of conclusions I had reached.

History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit and Trump by Tobias Stone

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-stone/history-tells-us-what-will-brexit-trump_b_11179774.html

From the article:

“Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable. That was Hitler, but it was also Mussolini, Stalin, Putin, Mugabe and so many more.”

A Partial List of Risks

We now have questions to ask ourselves. We see and feel the anger. Do we now have a national awakening or are we to be led deep into feelings of hopelessness, disenfranchisement, dysfunction and destruction. Since World War II we have been the leaders of what we call The Free World. There have been substantial lapses such as with the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, but in general we have been able to offer support and security in many ways. If we fail now, before us there stands a vulnerable world. Europe took a bold step in establishing the European Union and it is now shuddering as nationalistic and populist movements such as led to Brexit threaten its future. And just to the side stands a sociopath called Putin who took Crimea and may well make additional forays into Eastern Europe. Of course, there is the Middle East with what I am calling their hundred years war just beginning. China has been flexing its muscles and we cannot know where that might lead without carefully crafted diplomatic restraint. Would North Korea see an opportunity to attack South Korea or go deeper into provocative conflict with Japan? What of the continuing tensions between Pakistan and India—both nuclear powers. The list is long and ominous. And in each case carefully crafted American support and diplomacy has proven crucial in fostering stability and progress. What if it declines or is missing?

It is easy to dismiss the prospects and blindly declare it will not come to worldwide conflict. But we need to pay attention to the history of deep wave phenomena. One of the most recent ones began just prior to World War I. No one expected that cataclysm and the duration of it through the creation of the Third Reich. The history of Nazi Germany has echoes suggestive of what we now see on the horizon in many areas of the world. Tobias Stone has warned us and history confirms his thoughts. The consequences for America may be considerable.

Paying Attention to Waves

Wave theory is fascinating and waves come in many forms. Recently I mentioned the book Postcapitalism by Paul Mason which addresses economic waves. Stone in his article addresses political/social waves. Waves are fundamental in human history. And now we seem to be entering another wave and we can either shape it or abandon ourselves to it. Inaction may lead to breathtaking consequences.

And in fiction we have a long history of exploring human conflict and where it may lead us. We are on the cusp of a real world exploration. In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I chose a fictional exploration where mythology and the women’s movement are woven. It is an exploration filled with hope as strong women lead us into our future.

What do you see ahead as these conflicts build? 

Next we look at some factors which contributed to putting us deeper into risk. 

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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Men, Women and …

 

But There’s More

Men, Women and …

In recent posts there was a discussion asking when men will begin to truly examine themselves as we move into a rapidly changing future, in a time when women are clearly becoming empowered. But it is a time of complex challenges.

Raising An Important Question

In the second book of my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Challenge one of the major characters, Beck, has an intriguing interaction. In the undersea world that he and his wife Chantia have entered there are the Tethyan people. These people are predominantly female but there are a few men. Beck knows men are there because the mission of the Tethyans is to guard the future in case of a catastrophic failure among humankind.

Beck is intrigued and asks to speak with some of the men. The first two don’t seem to be able to give him much information. Then comes Lucas who is of the Illuminata, the clarifiers. Lucas points out that there are numerous questions regarding the men and that they are yet to be answered.

We, In Our World, Have Numerous Questions

What Lucas says reflects the developing picture in their rapidly developing world. In our current world we have a similar problem. Earlier posts talked about the changing roles of women and the need for men at last to begin to probe themselves and their future because they have to change as well.

The Third Force

I struggled to come up with an appropriate term for another issue. It is becoming apparent that humankind is not merely made up of men and women clear in their images and identity. (Duh!) We have struggled for a long time to believe in a simple dichotomy which is an untruth. But in recent decades we have truly discovered the LGBTQ community. 

Again I struggle with terminology. The diversity involved does not quite seem like an integrated “community”. But I think you get my drift. At last we are going to have to deal with our real diversity. We are not seamless and do not merely have two partners who come together for reproduction. 

Rich Complexity

When I look at programs about animals it seems they are all about food and reproduction. There are the predators and the prey, males and females. It seems primates have some forms of culture but nothing approaching our language and depth of culture. And while their world may change, rapid development is unlikely. We are quite different.

Challenge

Yes, we are challenged and need to step back, control our prejudices and take a look at our diversity as a precious gift, not something to be feared. Again we come to the theme of transformation. In Gaia’s Majesty I address the challenge and the possibilities for our future. Our rapidly changing human culture presents us with  moments of opportunity to be seized. There is much more to come as the cascade seems to be intensifying.

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

Fiction Writing Process II – An Inherent Process

If you write fiction, what is your process?

An Outpouring

At last the writing of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy began. It led initially to scattered notes which shaped a global outline. As I said previously, I found definitive guidance in the  story arc process described by Dara Marks. It is visually and conceptually helpful and is found in her book INSIDE STORY. 

Intrinsic Structure

When looking at the arc I became immediately aware of how I had been seeing the process in films. Being highly visual myself, it made sense. And then I looked at my notes and could see that much of it fit her arc. In fact each book fit the arc and all three books together composed an arc. Amazing! It turned out that moving a few chapters reinforced the overall arc. It was then that the outpouring took the form of the actual detailed writing following the construction.

One of the things that became clear was that there was an intuitive process in writing, at least for some of us. My notes indicated a fundamental attraction to an arc. I had not been aware of it. What Marks had put together was a highly useful guide. Unbounded creativity is one thing, but it also takes shaping if it is to be sufficiently grounded. 

Interaction with Characters

The whole process was so compelling that I did not stop with book 1, but went straight through a first draft for all three books. That turned out to be crucial because back and forth reinforcements and shaping were occurring. With all three books in view I could see which characters were working or had staying power. I had to kill one of my darling characters and reshaped others. I also began to discover secrets for some of the characters which had to be worked out in the plot. This process added interest and led to firming up of the arcs. 

Detailing often came to shape the story. Once the substance of a given character became clear, that in turn led to refinement of plot and interactions. There was obviously a very dynamic process involved. 

Inherent Process

It was also apparent that layering was occurring. And having all three books was proving crucial. The foundation had been laid, the flow of the arcs established and the characters developed more fully. I could clearly see that my intuitive personality function had been crucial to the concept and my thinking type auxiliary was helping me with the building as well as helping me seek resources.

Personal Lessons

As a psychologist I couldn’t resist looking at the process in general and also the contributions made by each component of the person doing the writing. And, of course, fiction leads us to lessons about our own humanity. We resonate to certain characters more than others and that speaks to who we are as a person. Do we get affirmation of ourselves or does it lead us to self examination and refinement? And what of the villains or the people to whom we do not resonate? Surely we have lessons to be learned from them and revelations.

Clearly reading is not a passive activity. It enhances our lives and ourselves. And then there is the question of what it may do for the author.

What processes in your life lead you to personal development?

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

Subjugation of Women Seems To Be Ending

 

And I’m Trying to Grasp What Is Happening

If that sounds like a bizarre statement, it is and it isn’t. I have to mention my personality type again – intuitive. I don’t accept facts easily and I always find events have depth and nuance. Possibilities always present themselves. And while I think the changes in regard to women are long overdue I have to raise a hand and ask what may truly be happening and where it will lead. I doubt it will be without conflict and across the world it may take on markedly different forms.

A note on the picture at the top. Two very different women. What is your reaction? Who do you think each might be?

And Then There Is The Matter of Transformation

I’m truly not sure if we are looking at the opening of a rich future or whether it will turn toward an outbreak and domination of authoritarianism which will mirror a prior period leading to devastating wars. Of course I have my hopes and, if the more positive view holds, then we may be looking at a blossoming era with a magnificent future.

How’s that for pie in the sky? But I have to insist that we have seen the unexpected take hold before and now surely is possibly no different.

The Focus of My Hope

But let me come back to the changes regarding women. I think I’ve made it clear I embraced the hope of the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s. It seemed to move behind the scenes for a time and now the changes are ramping up.

One explanation is that they have gained control over their fertility although many men are attempting to snatch back control or at least block their use of it. But I never have found that significant movements have one cause. The changes with women are showing up across different cultures which, in itself, is unusual. 

Getting Our Attention

It seems to be coming at us quickly and I am immersed in what I see on television. Where did these smart, assertive and skillful women come from who comment on the world and our lives. Not only that but they do not seem to feel they need to “dress down” or fail to display the forms of their attractiveness. I chuckle when I think about it. “Get a grip guys.” The fact that they are willing to be attractive in all its forms does not mean we still hold them in our grasp.

And it all feels so sudden. 

Not Being Passive

I suppose my first thought is that it is clear important things are happening all at once. Under such circumstances it is not a good idea to engage in passive acceptance or mindless obstruction. Of one thing I think we can be sure, this change is earth shaking in the end and we would do well to be evaluating the meaning and support the changes. We all stand to benefit and it may presage a movement into a new future we would do best to consider and evaluate.

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

Fiction Writing Process I – The Birth and Shaping of Fiction

Various Sources and Resources

The writing process is fascinating. There is conventional wisdom about how to do it, but there is considerable variation among those of us who write fiction. Nothing is universal. Clearly we are using our personal resources, but certainly we all need editors and a proofreader at the end. Of course there is the matter of inspiration. For me, I found some surprises. And those surprises came at many levels. First I noticed that I reached a point in the development of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy when I realized that I had been working on it, in what I call the back of my brain, for decades. 

Sources of Inspiration

And I found the source of inspiration was anything but confined. Over my life I’ve worked in a number of environments from medical establishments, helping people with personal conflicts, assisting in vocational choices and addressing inner city poverty. In the latter, our staff had to do battle with entrenched interests among the higher ups. While they were not despoiling the earth, they were working against the development of a rich new way to deliver services. Such opposition can be seen at all levels of our lives and in our societies.

Many Changes and Sources   

And at the time women were becoming more and more central and influential. My mentor was an extraordinarily bright black women. My feminist orientation was born in those days. Later I moved on to dealing with the crisis management of stepfamilies in formation. And through it all I was getting deep into people’s personal lives in psychotherapy and some of it was simply life management. 

From my educational background I had acquired a fascination with mythology and cultural processes. All of these elements coalesced in causing me to watch the world stage and political intrigue as our social life on this planet developed and we descended into environmental and social crises. 

And more recently women rising to power has become more central as they gained control over their fertility and cultural events defined a need for new roles. I won’t try to detail the process because it is complex and is well covered elsewhere. But we can see their rise worldwide and the benefits attached are truly stunning.

Melding Sources and Themes

When I put all these components together a story was taking shape in my brain. It was attuned to feminism, the reality of growing conflicts and portrayed the need for stewardship of all kinds. And, of course, it had to have a mythological context which enhanced its creative shape.

Shaping the Story

At some point the question becomes how to shape the story. The author can simply start writing, can make notes and can also organize. My wife writes screenplays and in her work I saw something fascinating in the form of Dara Marks’ (see www.DaraMarks.com) Transformational Arc. I recognized it immediately. It is apparent at the movies. Specific elements are built including high points and culminations such as “as bad as it gets” which is the crisis that generally comes about three quarters of the way through a movie. The system does a wonderful job of shaping stories so they thrive rather than plod. I also used Carl Jung’s personality typology to help guide me in developing and joining characters. In fact, I present this tool in my book Creating Characters and Plots which is available as an ebook on Amazon.

But there was also the matter of containment when inspiration was truly sparked. The outpouring began which led to three books. I refer to it as coming from the back of my brain, but we know such things are fortified by the contributions of the right brain. And, with my knowledge of Carl Jung’s personality typology I could see that my personality components were making a contribution. My primary function of Intuition was leading me to speculative fiction and my auxiliary function of thinking was saving me from utter disorganization because it forced me toward organization.

In subsequent posts I’ll give more details on various components of what I call the writing process and what aids its organization and development.

What shapes the story of your life?

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