A World in Crisis

 

What do you anticipate?

Is It Hope Or Is It Fear?

Call it interregnum. Call it denouement. Without question humankind is at a set of crisis crossroads. The Middle East is simply one indication. Overall, our world looks very much like Europe at the dawn of World War I. And we know where that went for the following decades.

I doubt you need a catalogue of all of the crisis points, from China hanging on the edge of chaos, to our own political menagerie fumbling toward failure. It was not so long ago that there seemed so much more hope for consolidation and stability. So much of it dissolved and the process hints of monumental change in the years ahead. And change can be good or bad. But in my mind this kind of process puts me in the position where I don’t wish to simply be an observer.

Fascination With Possibilities

Throughout my life I’ve always been drawn to the “what if”. For me possibilities are the staff of life and before us I perceive a feast. Such evolution and revolution does not lend itself to a thoroughly logical analysis because the underlying forces are never clear. And so I chose to name this blog Cusp of Reality because I firmly believe that is where we all reside—like it or not.

That means this blog is partly a thought document and is meant to present thoughts for examination and to lead us to the “what if”. And always there are different vehicles which may be chosen for the what if.

Waves, Hope and Promise

There are currently discussions of waves in human events. What did the waves of the twentieth century lead to? We are now being overtaken by a wave of information technology and, in the field of economics there is speculation that we are entering the postcapitalism era. Human affairs in all their forms offer hope, promise and promote fear.

I’ve chosen to write speculative fiction where the possibilities can be made graphic. Each of us has a rich inner life and there is a larger context. In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I tell a story with a mythological element to lead us through possibilities as we see our future unfolding. Are we in a denouement of sorts and will it end in a transformation of some kind. If nothing else the discussion and examination in this time is fascinating.The question always remains, “What If”?

Which among the possibilities would you 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

Opening Our View of The Future

Being Humble and Hopeful

What do you think your future holds?

Most animals forage for food and the human animal seems to forage for dreams. It is probably more than a little pompous for us to say we have our dreams because of our higher intelligence.

For the longest time we declared that we were the only animals to use tools. Then we found out differently. And there are night dreams and there are dreams we harbor. Have you ever watched your dog dreaming as he sleeps. We have to wonder what forms the dreams of other animals take.

Broadening Our View

What’s the point? It seems we humans get so caught up in how special we are that we tend to define ourselves in ways which separate us from other animals. And then there is the matter of life. For the longest time we believed we were the only intelligent animals and life existed only on this planet. Now we find that there is water in asteroids and within the water is salt and amino acids. It now seems life exists throughout the universe and that raises the possibility that the universe itself may be a living thing.

These thoughts may seem to have no point in themselves but such thoughts are the bedrock of our opening the possibility for what may be to come for humankind. Our darkest visions say nothing good but out of each dark age has come an enlightenment.

Clues to Our Future or Futures

Certainly we have our dark side and too commonly we kill others and inflict pain. But there is art, there is love, there are waves of hope. I created the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy to have a story of exploration of future possibilities. Just as we have made foolish mistakes such as assuming we alone possess tools and this planet alone has life, we also may be overlooking the clues which exist and point to future possibilities.

We find those clues in our myths, in our struggle, turning to stewardship, in the meaning of the empowerment of women and in every unexplored parts of our existence. Is there a spirit world? Our senses have specific purposes. We can’t know for sure. What comes after capitalism? There are some intriguing speculations with some hard data behind them.

Making the Choice

As difficult as the world is now, we have the option of exploring alternatives and dreams and giving ourselves the option of transformation or at least a beneficial and unexpected future. We have come a long way and the potential in front of us is truly exciting. Among us are people who would have us turn inwards and back on ourselves. The future points in another direction. The choice is ours.

How would you describe what you have chosen for yourself?

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

How Are You America – Part 4

 

 

 

What Is Intelligence?

First lets address the issue of intelligence which in some ways relates to job skills. I say in some ways because job skills also reflect personality and interest patterns. One definition of intelligence is “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills” – whatever that means. What it has often meant was the score received on an intelligence test.

The most commonly used tests when I was doing testing was the Wechsler which was available for adults and children. These tests had originally been developed because people wanted ways to assess scholastic ability. Up to a point it served its purpose. Over time we also used it to assess if there were learning disabilities. Again, up to a point it helped.

Another matter is what kind of intelligence a person has. Some people are highly analytical, some suppositories of information and some can regurgitate material fed to them without any true understanding of its meaning. The latter are sometimes found among people who graduate from respected institutions but, to be blunt, seem stupid.

I think you get the point. It is highly variable and discussion cannot be simplistic if the aim is to design a remedial system.

In What We Call the Real World

The point here is to not do an in-depth presentation about intelligence. In fact, the point relates to the changes needed in our society to prepare people for the employment future. And there is evidence of that future changing rapidly.

The Wechsler tests were designed with a Verbal and a Performance section. Verbal suggests what the word means and relates most closely to academic abilities. But they also included Performance which generally seemed to reflect abilities of “working class” people. A plumber needs different abilities from an accountant.

The conventional, professional wisdom was that if the Verbal I.Q. was 20 points below the Performance I.Q. meant there was a learning disability. Well, not quite. I tested people from all walks of life and often found that discrepancy. But gradually I came to see something. The people with higher Performance skills often came from working class households. In fact what I was seeing was a pattern of talent not disability. Such a perception was very useful when job issues were considered.

The point is that we cannot approach the future of our workforce in a limited fashion.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Vocational Change

Vocational rehabilitation is at issue for a variety of reasons. People get injured in a variety of ways and need to be retrained so they can be productively employed. But we had to play some games. The counselors often came to me saying they needed a disability to develop a retraining program which they could pay for. One of the things that meant was that I had to define a disability for women who were getting a divorce and had not worked outside the home previously.

Yikes! I knew exactly what they meant. Sometimes people suddenly have a change in their lives which needs to be addressed and they may not have the expertise or money to pay for it. So we went to work.

But, of course, there are other kinds of disabilities and needs for retraining as we are presently experiencing. Job categories disappear or shrink and we have to figure out what to do with the people who are no longer needed.

But something unfortunate happened. At one point when budgets were constricting. the rehab people had to work harder to justify what they were doing and they turned to the severely disabled. Sometimes that mean spending a lot of money on people who showed little if any promise for employment.

That is just one story. What we have to do is adapt to change in productive ways.

Designing for the Future

Our national dialogue in many matters is being shaped by partisan and idealogical conflict. What we really need in a society which is facing rapid change is an eyes wide open exploration of what the people in our society need.

One of the things I saw was that the people with Performance abilities had an interesting set of abilities which might not need to be applied in plumbing or electrical work. In fact, if we broaden our scan we see that their abilities can be applied in information technology work in an office. But what we need to do now is to evaluate our viewpoint and begin to study how we can approach the needs of people to be employed in the postcapitalism world. We need vision, flexibility and new thinking.

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 for World Reformation or Devastation?

 

 

Is this a picture of the dawn of hope or the coming 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

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