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Rated: E · Book · Writing · #2044345
Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
For those of you who have been following, you will see that I moved my reading list into the body of the blog. I will be adding book commentary as new articles instead of listing. New entries will be the first thing you encounter. All book comments have BOOK in the title. The blog is organized chronologically. Please feel free to comment. I especially like challenging comments.

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June 14, 2015 at 5:25pm
June 14, 2015 at 5:25pm
Matt Ford
MSN News, The Atlantic - ‎Saturday‎, ‎June‎ ‎13‎, ‎2015
"America's Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail"

This is an excellent description of the current state of mental health intervention in America. It includes a three page concise history of mental health intervention in the US showing how it got to be where it is today. It also describes innovative efforts at the Cook County Jail to improve the situation. The article includes quotes from inmates about the situation, as well as from the Cook County Sheriff.

In spite of a lot of attention paid to the brain trauma and its aftermath suffered by football players, we still have trouble equating mental health with brain health, and with physical health. We have trouble understanding that we are what we eat. We have trouble seeing ourselves as interdependent in the USA due to the high value we place on individuality. We value team sports, but the media lauds individuals on the teams as heroes more than entire teams. We also have trouble making basics a priority. For example, parents buy teenagers cars and let them go with the cars when their teens are still having trouble picking up after themselves, completing homework and taking responsibility for their own choices. We go to war and support the war without increasing taxes to pay for it. You might ask “what does this have to do with mental health?”

We expect people to function equally well, and blame them if they don’t. Blaming is one of the most common activities in public discourse. Congress blames the current President regardless of what the last President did. The President blames Congress. Everyone blames the coach, the governor, the police, etc. We Americans are highly skilled at scapegoating. When Jesus worked toward reform of animal sacrifice, he was trying to end literal scapegoating, that is sacrificing a goat to atone for mistakes called sins. So what did his followers do? They made him the scapegoat saying he died for our sins. And thus, the habit of letting someone else suffer the consequences of our bad choices continues. It is the teen’s fault if they wreck the car, not the parents for buying the car. It is the sick person’s fault for being sick, not the food manufacturer who loaded their foods with salt and sugar to sell more. It is the consumer’s fault for using those foods. On and on.
What if the blaming is the problem? What if when someone on the street looks miserable, we smile at them and ask what they need and try and get it to them? What if we build a mental health system that can actually apply what we know about how mental health works in ways that actually ameliorate symptoms? What if we each agreed to pay a realistic amount of money to make that happen? What if we acted as members of an effective team/community/extended family rather than a cowboy alone on his horse singing to the cows?
June 14, 2015 at 12:17am
June 14, 2015 at 12:17am
The cover photo above is my beautiful mother, Winifred Peterson, in her teens. I thought it would feel good to have her with me when I write. She was unflappable, very smart, and unfailingly supportive. When we were little, she loved playing with us. When we got older, she would have as much fun as we did completing projects for school or scouting. She cooked for junior choir practice every week for years at our church, and made all the choir robes. The list of things she did for others goes on and on. Although she encouraged us to talk, she really didn’t talk much herself. I never knew if she was Republican or Democrat in her thinking. She practiced Christianity, but never talked about it unless she was helping us spiritually to cope with something. Mom kept her feelings to herself. So, here she is, supporting me in my thinking, and quietly listening, just as always.
June 13, 2015 at 12:10pm
June 13, 2015 at 12:10pm

Watching the ads for Jurassic Park, I got to wondering, with global warming, will chickens gradually evolve back to being dinosaurs? How would we cook the eggs? Every meal would have to be eaten in a group. No more sitting alone at the table with an egg or two, a cup of coffee, a piece of toast, reading. Nope. The neighbors would gather to cook and eat one egg. There would be no way to pen evolved chickens, either. We’d just have to follow chicken dinosaurs around and find their nests. I assume all birds would evolve in much the same way. Robins would be crashing into trees. And the noise. Oh my. Pea Fowl screaming in the night, and think about the evolved whippoorwill. We would never get any sleep. Our only hope would be to live under ground. It would be cooler there. We could grow mushrooms and root plants in the walls. Pull a potato from the living room wall and fry it up with mushrooms from the bedroom. Umm good! Relish the thought.

June 11, 2015 at 4:18pm
June 11, 2015 at 4:18pm
Today, I am reading in preparation for the class I am teaching. The reading is interesting and my response must be well organized and articulate. Of course, I try in all my writing to be well organized and articulate. I am reading about families, social systems and Social Work intervention. The particular article I am currently reading critiques the medical model as a way of understanding mental health and moves deliberately toward a systems/ecological approach to the problem. This represents solid social work scholarship and reasoning. What can I pull out of this for you?

A healthy family is supported by the environment, and returns output to the environment/community that benefit everyone else. This is true, also, of healthy individuals. It suggests that we discover what we and our neighbors need in order to be productive. What can we do, what can we put back into the community that will help meet these needs? When we answer these questions and act on them, we are healthy citizens. In evaluating my health, I ask myself how do I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I need to understand my own responsibility in tending my own well being in these areas. One of the problems we all encounter is deciding when we need to turn to the community to meet our needs, and when we as a member of the community must respond to others turning to us for ongoing well being. This is what citizenship is all about: identification of what is needed and of what I can do to meet these needs. A healthy citizen focuses on their own role in making self and community healthy. The prime survival strategy of humans is to form families and communities that sustain us.

On a more concrete level, institutions such as schools, the medical community, transportation, trash collection, and commerce are community supporting family. Producing the next generation, regulating personal behavior, and nurturing each other are products the family returns to the community. Individual family members operate in both community and family. If you take this perspective to heart, you will focus on sharing, nurturing, and supporting others and take responsibility for what you can do in these areas. This does not leave much time for creation of authoritarian havoc. A healthy community supports and sustains well being. An unhealthy community goes to war.

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June 10, 2015 at 2:00pm
June 10, 2015 at 2:00pm
This TV program, THE CALL TO WISDOM, examines the nature of wisdom, how it can be both universally recognized yet expressed in different ways by different traditions, and why our survival today as a species and a planet will almost certainly depend on it. The program features Jean Shinoda Bolen MD., an author, activist and Jungian analyst who has written several books on the archetypal psyche of women and men in the development of human consciousness, meeting Roger Walsh MD.,Ph.D. a professor of psychiatry, philosophy and anthropology, who recently edited a book on how Wisdom can be understood and cultivated."
Among the first things said on this show are:
“The only true wisdom is recognizing how much you don’t know.”
“Everything you know and believe is a gift.”
“The only way to say thank you is to give back.”
“Wisdom is expertise in the conduct and meaning of life.”
The search for meaning is what resonates us. It is also deep insight and understanding of ourselves. Wise people seem to express their understanding in ways that benefit everyone, in a win-win way.
Psyche means soul in Greek. Psychology should be the study of the soul.
“The imbalance between our extraordinary technological power” and our wisdom leaves us vulnerable. “We are like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with enormous power and little wisdom.” We are often at this crossroads between wisdom and catastrophe. Each of us has moments of truth. Our inner voice speaks and we choose. We come into the world with some innate feeling of what is right and wrong. Soldiers seem to have to override what is in us intrinsically.

This is one of a series of shows about spiritual issues. All that I have seen have been consistently excellent. In this episode, problems intrinsic to male dominant culture are explored and placed in an historical context. I found the entire discussion to be validating and energizing. I hope that providing the link http://www.cemproductions.org/globalspirit/ will encourage you to explore the series yourself.

As I listened, thoughts about Mars came to me. The current exploration of Mars by Rover has revealed there was once a lot of liquid, probably water on the surface of Mars. I wonder, was Mars once like Earth? What happened? Is this our future as a planet? Can we do anything about it?

In our travels out west, my eyes have been opened to many things, not the least of which is the well of wisdom we have sitting there in the native population that we have tried, as a culture, so hard to silence. In this program, they discuss the need for wisdom to come from within, to be rooted in knowledge that comes from experience, and that wisdom looks at the big picture. They talk about the Iroquois Nation depending on elder women for important decisions including whether to go to war. Their decision was required to be based on thinking about how the choice will affect the next 7 generations, and to include knowledge accumulated from the previous 7 generations.

I suspect that men following that discipline could make equally wise decisions. Unfortunately, Our culture does not encourage reflection, especially among people who make the most serious decisions that impact all of us. We want everything to be instantaneous. The speakers on the program talked about the relationship between awareness of mortality and wisdom. If we were actually to have everything instantaneously, that would, logically include instantaneous death. I agree with these people that we must take time to reflect, to think in terms of 7 generations and learn from previous 7 generations. I fear that if we don’t, all too soon, Earth will look like Mars.
June 8, 2015 at 5:04pm
June 8, 2015 at 5:04pm
The Washington Post - ‎Monday‎, ‎June‎ ‎8‎, ‎2015
“Abortion rights leader’s pregnancy surprises opponents: ‘Is that real?’
Ellen McCarthy

Ilyse Hogue, head of NARAL: Pro-Choice America, the nation’s largest pro-choice organization, is 45 years old and pregnant with twins. The journalist has to come up with an angle. She goes with a comment made at a public hearing “is that real?” She then discusses the NARAL position that supports reproductive freedom and presents some recent history. She does not mention anything about being 45 years old and pregnant.

Personally, that would fill me with fear but, Ms. Hogue insists this is something she wants. Good for her. That is what choice is all about. I hope she has a strong, healthy support system to raise twins, and I hope they are both healthy.

In the article, Ms. McCarthy points out that most women who seek abortions already have children. I was told through a contact in Planned Parenthood the largest group of women seeking abortion are peri-menopausal with grown children; the “change of life” pregnancy. There is also a substantial number of women who are facing their last chance at pregnancy at the same time of life. (Here comes my rant. Are you ready?”)

People who believe a version of God as one who micromanages and makes every little thing in one’s life happen “for a purpose” have yet to explain to me how they cope with the contradictions in my last paragraph. What “loving god” would give a baby to someone who is not in a position to meet its needs and none to someone who wants a child? Of course, I am a mere human and I don’t really expect myself to comprehend the mind of the creator of multiple universes. But, the folks who say they do understand the mind of God, rain confusion on my head. I would think I could understand mere mortals, like myself, but I don’t. Why do they want to get in the middle of someone else’s pregnancy by saying they know what God means? This is taking more responsibility than I, personally, could handle.

What I think is going on here is an effort by the extreme right to stimulate the economy by growing the population (there is a bill board south of town that promotes this idea,) and wants women out of politics and the workplace by keeping us “barefoot and pregnant.” They can’t win. The more time women have at home, the more political action we can take. The more citizens there are, the harder for the right to control everyone. But it is very painful for women to hear all this controversy over something so personal. For example, what right does someone in a public hearing have to say “is that real?” How rude.

I wish there was no fight over this. I wish Ilyse Hogue could lay down her fighting words and go home and raise these children knowing there is no need for someone to fill her role at NARAL. Most of all, I am happy for her and for her very much wanted children, and for their father who gets the joy of raising children with a partner who truly wants and loves his children. And, I think it is wonderful that the head of NARAL is pregnant.
June 8, 2015 at 1:15am
June 8, 2015 at 1:15am
Surfing the net today, I came across this:
“Calling Bruce Jenner a Woman Is an Insult to Women”
avemaria radio
Posted on: June 3rd, 2015 by kresta in the afternoon
The author has strong opinions about Bruce Jenner’s transition and by extension, about transgenderism. I too have some thoughts on the subject.

In his posting, kresta attempts to distinguish between “real” women and invented women and objects to transgenderism, focusing on male to female transition. In the process of “defending” women, he makes some statements that I found problematic: “Transgenderism and feminism cannot coexist. Progressives can’t have both.” It seems to me kresta makes a judgement about who can get along and accept each other and who can’t. I didn’t see any rationale in the posting for this position. Kresta did not define terms and assumed a definition about feminism that is not how I understand it. In my mind, feminism means acceptance of the intrinsic value of every human being, and accepting that the feminine is equal to the masculine in value and power. I see this as a progressive ideal as well.

Kresta goes on to say: “We’re talking about a sex change like it’s an Apple product. With this kind of language, we have not only made the self mutable, we’ve also commodified it and turned it into a spectacle that can be sold for profit. This is a bastardization of our humanity on a scale and to a degree that wouldn’t have even crossed the tortured minds of last century’s most prophetic social critics.
It’s all so evil and so bizarre and so unthinkably ridiculous that no dystopian sci-fi writer could have predicted that the collapse of western society would look like this. Right now Orwell and Huxley are looking on in deep regret. “Man! An apocalyptic future where people are so pampered, conceited, and bored that they pretend they can snap their fingers and reconstruct their soul from scratch — why didn’t I think of that?”

As I recall, the first sex change operation took place just past mid-century, about 50 years ago. This has been going on way too long to still consider it revolutionary. While I agree this is "commodification" I don't see that as a new thing either. I remember Bruce Jenner appearing in advertising as a young man, promoting products like any accomplished athlete in the past 75 years or so. The commodification of people started with advertising in the 1920’s. People being pampered and bored has been going on as long as people have existed as far as I can tell.

Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlin Jenner is similar to a woman getting married and changing her identity to wife and member of her husband’s family. It is a change in identity that has been expected of women for centuries. It just does not seem to me that Bruce Jenner’s transition to a woman is emblematic of the crash of civilization. It does seem to represent a very important problem about our media making something very personal seem generally significant while ignoring some pretty important social issues. That is for another entry.

For now, I just want to add, my womanhood is not defined by my reproductive capacity. It is defined by my culture and myself and does have a biological base that I was born with. Just because I have certain organs does not automatically lead to pregnancy and parenthood any more than it does for a man. That is what choice is about. I am in no way insulted that a particular man chooses to be a woman. Actually, it is kind of flattering. I don’t pretend to comprehend it, but, since it isn’t me, I don’t have to. Should I meet Caitlin Jenner, I will treat her with as much respect as I treat anyone else because that is the right thing to do.

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