A Divided Country: Rising Expectations, pt. 1

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

I remember reading Charles Dickens’ historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, in my high school English class many years ago. 02.1 Tale of Two CitiesThis memorable quote opens the book: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

At the time, I wondered how all of these different emotions could be expressed at the same time. Now I realize that we are expressing many different emotions all simultaneously—anger, fear, hope, despair, concern, love, and hate. These emotions are not necessarily rational responses to events but bubble up from our deep core of being to burst forth.

Our country was built on a myth: “Work hard, play by the rules and you can achieve the American Dream,” I bought into this myth. I worked hard very hard. As baby boomers, my husband and I built and sold six houses in our early years of marriage, along with our other jobs. It was physically demanding work but we were able to accrue a nice nest egg from our endeavors.

I taught my Gen-X children the same values. They had challenging jobs as teenagers like cleaning the lard barrel at Hardees, “walking beans” to get weeds out on hot summer days, babysitting for long stretches, and cleaning houses.

02.2 walking beans

“walking beans”

My children grew up expecting they would achieve the same lifestyle level as I had, but from their experiences they knew it would take dedicated effort and a college education. They learned to be resilient adults. They were able to overcome setback, adversity, and figuring things out on their own. The lessons have stuck with them.

But from my readings and observations, I am learning that Millennials and Gen Z have different expectations about the future. As I see it, they are expecting a similar lifestyle but somehow missing the connection between working hard and achieving rewards. Because of the implications of the American Dream, the current generation assumes that they can have a similar lifestyle as their parents. But the question is how to acquire these expectations without the often boring and repetitive hard work. They have figured out a way.

Along comes the political philosophy of democratic socialism. The politicians promise 02.3 potato chip factorythat the government can provide many of the life’s comforts with little effort from recipients. Free college education, reimbursement of student loan debt, free health care, well-paying and secure jobs, subsidized day care, and a host of other goodies. I remember toiling for a long, hot summer at a potato chip factory to earn enough to pay my tuition and expenses for a year of college. With a little help from my parents, and low-cost tuition, I saved enough money to pay the costs, with lots of grueling over-time and Saturday work. I had some “skin” in the game, I wasn’t going to blow it.

I will continue to blog about the cultural divide in our country in March. My forthcoming 01.4 Dividedbook—Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them—describes the cultural divide primarily in the U.S. through the lens of five worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. Ideas from the blogs are explained in the book as well.

About the Author

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences—scholarly research, teaching, reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development trainings, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, developing globally-focused books and educational resources. She has written seven books, blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units for the non-profit and clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing a program called Turn—transformative understanding and 01.3 Turn imagereflection network—that encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, shift perspectives, and understand the balance in all things. She teaches classes and writes about cross-cultural awareness, indigenous wisdom, a transformative worldview, learning from the past, a mythic journey, and transforming travel.

 

 

 

 

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Along the Rio Grande Bosque

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

The act of traveling has changed. COVID-19 has stretched its deadly tentacles into traveling as well as into other areas of our lives. Exotic vacations in foreign lands are on hold for now and cross-country flights to visit loved ones are deemed too dangerous at this time. Americans don’t like to have limits imposed upon them, I am one of them. But instead of chafing under restrictions, someone who enjoys seeing different landscapes and living different experiences has to be creative.

There is a world of wonder out there to be discovered and reflected upon, we just need to shift our mindset. We have been conditioned to want to behold breath-taking scenery, visit “exotic” people, or see monumental architecture. I love all that, but it is not what we can have right now. It is time to turn to the local, to explore what is just down the road a spell.

I took my own advice a few days ago and ventured out to hike along a string of trails that I had not hiked before. Bordering the banks of the Rio Grande River in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico, my home town, the trails were new and fresh to me. In Spanish this area is called the Bosque or woods in English, a tangled mish-mash of intersecting and dead-end trails meandering through a tree-shaded stretch of protected lands.

Giant cottonwood trees shade this swath of green ribbon nestled between a dry, expanse of brown plateau, technically called a semiarid high desert. The Rio Grande, a river of legion in the old West, cuts through this green paradise as it ambles along in search for the Gulf of Mexico. 

I felt like I was entering a wild land of thick underbrush, thorny branches, and sunlight flickering through the treetops. Although I was surrounded by the city just a mile or so away, I pushed away the city sounds and surrendered to birds chirping from above and the rustle of lizards scampering through the groundcover. This was a more remote section of trails than other areas along the river, so I encountered few fellow hikers, lending to the isolated feeling I craved.

It was an early morning hike in early September, just as the hint of fall has crept into our lives. Fall is magically in New Mexico, the sun is crisp, the air is light, and colors of nature are at their most intense. Artists flock to New Mexico because they love to paint the “light.” Here I was, just me and nature, enjoying the early morning light filtering through the leaves and catching a glimpse of that emerging, indescribable fall weather. I was ecstatic.

I flitted through the bosque. My gait even took on the lightness that enveloped me as I glided amongst the trees, dodging low hanging branches and skipping over roots shooting through the soil.

After a couple of hours, I grew a bit tired and hungry for breakfast. The sun grew hotter, and warned me that summer was still around in the afternoon. I exited the trails closest to the river and walked along a gravel pathway to ease my transition to “everyday life.” Soon I crossed over the street leading to my parked car, waiting for me amongst the shading, gigantic cottonwoods.

As I started the engine of my car, I was transported back from my in-depth and exhilarating experience with nature to my everyday life. COVID-19 was still with me, tyrannizing my thoughts and actions, but at least for a short time I escaped and found sanctuary and nurturance from a swath of nature just a few miles from my home. It was a blessing I accepted with gratitude.   

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released! $14.95

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 

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The Rise of Populism, pt. 4

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A growing political phenomenon, populism, is making headway in many countries around the world today, including western democracies. It is a worldwide phenomenon with far-reaching ramifications. Here is part 4 of this blog series …

6. Authoritarian Tendencies (cont.)

The prospect of some wholesale overthrow of the system in pursuit of greater unity is appealing to many authoritarians. An example of this sentiment was when Trump supporters in the 2016 presidential campaign claimed that they wanted someone to “shake things up.” The consequences of this shake up were vague, but the mere act of “doing something” to right the wrongs of the perceived corruption and chaos was appealing to his supporters. As a result, liberal democracy is least secure when authoritarians believe that another type of government is better able to grant them the oneness and sameness they crave.

Mocking, belittling, and patronizing authoritarians are triggers that further aggravate their anger and insecurity. Stenner found that to ease their distress, there needs to be greater consensus on issues, leaders capable of inspiring confidence, and rhetoric far more focused on the power of unity than the joys of diversity. Authoritarians are malleable in their positions; for example, the boundaries of “us” and “them” can be shifted as long as there is a common in-group identity.

7.  Populism and Democracy

The relationship between populism and democracy has sparked intense debates. Some critics see populism as dangerous to democracy, while populists often present themselves as the only true democrats. On the positive side, populism can serve to give status and recognition to some social groups who feel excluded and marginalized from the political process. It also directs negative attention to the elites of society, who the populists perceive as usurping power, privilege, and wealth from the common person. 

Populist leaders tend to dislike a complicated democratic system. When populism takes the authoritarian track, it is at odds with liberal democracy. As mentioned above, populists who have an authoritarian predisposition undermine the tenets of liberal democracy by rejecting notions of pluralism and the idea that constitutional limits should constrain the “general will” of the people. Populists tend to view democratic institutions such as Congress as alienating, rambunctious, and full of conflict; instead, they prefer direct democracy like referendums or executive orders that settle issues in a clear-cut manner. Ultimately, populist leaders make decisions in a way that typically isn’t possible in traditional democracies.

Populists who live in liberal democracies often criticize the independent institutions designed to protect the fundamental rights of minorities, particularly the judiciary and the media. Mudde notes, “Populists in power tend to undermine countervailing powers, which are courts, which are media, which are other parties. And they tend to do that through a variety of mostly legal means, but not classic repression.” Fearful of this type of governance, liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill described it as the “tyranny of the majority.”  

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 



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The Rise of Populism part 3

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

A growing political phenomenon, populism, is making headway in many countries around the world today, including western democracies. It is a worldwide phenomenon with far-reaching ramifications. Here is part 3 of this blog series …

5.  Populists as Disrupters

Populists typically show their distrust of the establishment by transgressing normative rules of behavior, language, and ethics. One example is behaving in a way that is not typical of politicians, such as using bad manners. Stylistically, populists often use short, simple slogans and direct language, and engage in coarse behavior, which makes them appear like real people. They use this colorful and crass language to distinguish themselves from the establishment. News coverage of populists often follows a tabloid format, emphasizing their preference and tendency toward melodrama, gossip, infotainment, and scattered and confusing narratives.

6.  Authoritarian Tendencies

Karen Stenner

Some populists have authoritarian tendencies. According to political psychologist Karen Stenner, “Authoritarianism is an individual predisposition to intolerance of difference that brings together certain traits: obedience to authority, moral absolutism, intolerance and punitiveness toward dissidents and deviants, and racial and ethnic prejudice.”

Among authoritarians individual autonomy gives ways to group authority. Stenner concludes that authoritarian tendencies are mostly latent when there is political consensus, little strife, and authority figures are trusted. However, the authoritarian tendency may be triggered or activated when people feel leaders are unworthy of trust and respect, and normative beliefs are no longer shared across the community or nation.

Authoritarians are boundary-maintainers, norm-enforcers, and cheerleaders for authority figures. The loss or perceived loss of these boundaries, norms, and authority is a catalyst for activating their latent authoritarian predispositions.

Authoritarians do not necessarily strive to preserve the status quo and are in favor of social change when that change entails shifting together in support of common goals. They are not opposed to government intervention to enhance oneness and sameness. Unlike libertarians, they are not necessarily supportive of laissez-faire economics.

Authoritarians are not necessarily open to new experiences, instead they have difficulty handling complexity, freedom, and difference. Conservatives grow more attracted to authoritarianism when public opinion is fragmented and fractious, and major institutions fail to inspire confidence. But when confidence in societal institutions is at a reasonable level, they are disinclined to adopt authoritarian stances.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 


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The Rise of Populism, part 2

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

A growing political phenomenon, populism, is making headway in many countries around the world today, including Western democracies. It is a worldwide phenomenon with far-reaching ramifications. Here is part 2 of this blog series …

3.  The Common People are the Underdogs

Populists morally frame the common people as the underdogs, oppressed by evil elites. The way of life of the common people is good and rooted in the country’s “real” history and its traditions, which is regarded as being beneficial to the public good. Populists’ leaders claim that they alone represent the common people. Even though they may lack majority support, they claim the polls are rigged or the questions on the survey favor the elites.

Populists reason that they only lose an election if the common people have not had a chance to express their views. For example, Bernie Sanders’ supporters in his bid for the Democratic party nomination in 2016 blamed his loss on a “rigged” system that elected the more establishment candidate Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that he lost by thousands of votes.

Populists frequently invoke conspiracy theories or elaborate rationalizations for political losses; the elites are still manipulating events behind the scenes in order to benefit them and keep the common person compliant. Therefore, if the populist politician doesn’t win, there must be something wrong with the system.

Logically, this argument would seem to fail once populists enter government and become the establishment. But a primary appeal of populism is its underdog status, so they continue to portray themselves as victims even at the height of their power in an incessant game of blaming others for their shortcomings or mistakes.

4.  Populist Leaders Are Usually Elite Men

Anti-elitism is a key feature of populism. Populist leaders often present themselves as representatives of the people, but they often come from the upper echelons of society, either through wealth or elite education. Leaders get around this contradiction by distinguishing their elite status as “self-made,” a qualifying mark of their leadership abilities.

They vigorously claim that they are not the despised established political elites. In fact, they are fighting against the established elites for the ordinary person. Populists often condemn not only the political establishment, but also economic, academic, cultural, and media leaders, which they present as one uniform, corrupt group. For example, President Donald Trump does not consider himself to be in the category of the elites; instead he frames himself as a self-made businessman who has sacrificed his position of power and wealth in order to battle against the corrupting elites who are oppressing the common person. A populist leader who gets into power is in a perpetual crusade to prove to the people that he is not an establishment figure and never will be.

The overwhelming majority of populist leaders have been men. They often present themselves as men of action and images rather than men of words, talking of the need for bold action and common-sense solutions to issues which they call crises. Male populist leaders often express themselves using simple and sometimes vulgar language in an attempt to present themselves as the common man or “one of the boys” to add to their populist appeal. Overstepping traditional political boundaries, they may use language that draws attention to their virility and sexual prowess.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Rise of Populism, pt. 1

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.1 populismA growing political phenomenon, populism, is making headway in many countries around the world today, including western democracies. It is a worldwide phenomenon with far-reaching ramifications. The term was coined in the late 19th century, and the movement has resurfaced at various times in modern history.

Populism is a political stance that appeals to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are overlooked by the established elite. Populism sets in on the left and right side of the political spectrum. At this point I will describe seven general characteristics of the phenomenon to give an introductory overview of this trend.

Seven Characteristics of Populism:

1.  A Thin Ideology

Populists call for ousting the political establishment, but they don’t identify what should replace it. According to Cas Mudde, populism is a thin ideology, one which, on its own, is not substantive enough to offer a comprehensive ideology for governance. 05.2It differs from “thick-centered” ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, federalism, nationalism, conservatism, or fascism that have developed more comprehensive views on the relationship of politics, economics, society, and religion.

As a thin-centered ideology, populism is flexible and populist politicians attach it to thick-centered ideologies. It is a complementary ideology that spreads itself through thicker ideologies in order to facilitate political rule.

2.  Appeals to Common People

Populists are dividers, not uniters. Although populism means “for the people,” it splits society into two hostile groups: “the pure (or common) people” and “the corrupt elite.” Populists purport to speak to the common people, who feel that the political establishment overlooks or degrades their concerns and anxieties. In keeping with the flexibility of populism, the concept of “the people” is vague.

05.3According to populists, the pure people share a sense of identity that distinguishes them from different groups within society. The pure people are also considered virtuous and their selection of populist leaders is self-legitimatizing. While a liberal democracy is a political system based on pluralism in which different groups with different interests and values are all legitimate, populism is just the opposite.

Populists tend to define the common people as those who are with them. They separate the world into warring camps. The common people may be connected according to their socioeconomic status or class, in which they share certain cultural traditions and popular values. Populists make the case that the dominant elite belittle or devalue those peoples’ values, tastes, character, and judgments. Therefore, it is the duty of the people to retaliate against this disparagement.

Populists often employ the common people as a synonym for the whole nation, whether that national community is conceived in ethnic or civic terms. In such a framework, all individuals are regarded as being “common” to a particular state either by birth or by ethnicity.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

07.3 and 08.2Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

 

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  

 

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The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, The Myth of Meaning, pt. 4

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what is going on today. I am trying to make sense of the turmoil, uncertainty, and rage. I find it is hard to get clear answers. 02.5Closely following and reflecting upon this time of unrest, I have found that the rhetoric emerging from the progressive left reminds me of the making of a mythology. In response, I am drawn to exploring how progressives are actually formulating a mythology, rather than devising a new form of reality-based governance. This series of blogs will explore the making of a progressive myth. Here is part 4 …

Humans are meaning-making creatures. We strive for meaning and purpose in our lives, and if it isn’t clear what that meaning is, we create meaning. Guided by what myths people value and elevate, we construct meaning and purpose in our lives. By unconsciously following our myths, people regulate and interpret their lives and find worth and purpose.

04.1 extended familyFor many years, meaning for many Americans reflected the mythology of the American Dream. It was about having a family, participating in community life, and being part of a religious organization. I remember as a child growing up in the 1950s that my extended family was very important in my life. My grandmother, the matriarch of the clan, wielded power with resolve. Some Americans continue to hold this myth, but it no longer resonates with others.

But I have found that the meaning of meaning has significantly changed in the last couple of decades. The importance of family, community, and place of worship have eroded, leaving a vacuum in the lives of many Americans, especially the youth. Instead, we are left adrift in the search for meaning, and many people feel anomie as a result.

07.2But the progressive left has risen to the occasion and sorted out what gives them meaning. This meaning is a vital component in their construction of a mythology. Many of today’s youth have struggled to find meaning in a world that rewards marketplace success to an elite few, in a crowded arena of professional strivers, or in low wage, dead-end jobs. I have empathy for their predicament. I am not surprised that many would gravitate to progressive left politics to assuage their lack of purpose.

Meaning for progressive leftists revolves around participating in a cause. It is a perfect way to belong to something greater than oneself, to a cause. And it is not just any old cause, but one that is righteous and elevated, they are on the virtuous side of history. Many of them look confident and righteous as they march down streets with fists raised or shout in the face of beleaguered-looking policeman monitoring their actions or admonish people in restaurants that they are not woke enough. They are adamant about fighting for a cause that they elevate to the noblest plane of action.

02.3 defund the policeTheir cause may be to defund the police, abolish ICE, open up national borders, fight for racial justice, Black Lives Matter, save the environment, promote equality, protect transgender rights, destroy capitalism, or any other causes that meet their amorphous standards. However, I would argue, that the causes are vague and the goals are unattainable but that is not the real point. The real point is to find meaning in the cause and have a purpose in life.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  

 

 

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The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, Three American Myths, pt. 3

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what is going on today. I am trying to make sense of the turmoil, uncertainty, and rage. I find it is hard to get clear answers. Closely following and reflecting upon this time of unrest, I have found that the rhetoric 02.5emerging from the progressive left reminds me of the making of a mythology. In response, I am drawn to exploring how progressives are actually formulating a mythology, rather than devising a new form of reality-based governance. This series of blogs will explore the making of a progressive myth. Here is part 3 …

Instead of the American Dream mythology, a different mythology has been emerging since around 2000 that I call the progressive left. This mythology has its roots in the progressive era reforms in the early 20th century. This mythology framed the direction of reforms, such as women’s suffrage, expansion of 03.1national parks, breaking-up giant corporations, and passing an income tax.

The progressive mythology took a pause during the Roaring 20s, but reasserted itself during the Great Depression, when programs were passed to stem the tide of human suffering and economic hardship. It paused again during World War II years and the feel-good era of the 1950s. But gained steam during the 1960s and early

03.2

LBJ signing Voting Rights Act of 1965

1970s, reaching a crescendo with the passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. The 1980s and 1990s took another pause from progressivism but a movement was forming.

In the 2000s, the progressive mythology began to reassert itself again. It grew in response to the backlash against the George W. Bush administration and the disastrous war and invasion of Iraq. With the presidential election of Barack Obama in 2008, the mythology was boosted by his call for hope and change. The 2008 financial 03.3crisis exposed real problems in the financial sector of the economy and the general trajectory of economic globalization and the neoliberal philosophy. Protests, such as Occupy Wall Street in 2011, galvanized the progressive left and gave them a worthy cause to protest. Even though the Occupy Wall Street fizzled, the emotions behind it certainly didn’t disappear. A mythology was beginning to form.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders pumped up the progressive left in his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee in his impressive primary battle against the “establishment” candidate, Hillary Clinton. With her stunning defeat in the 3.2 Trump with Kelly Ann Conway, election nightgeneral election, losing to Donald Trump in the electoral college, the progressive movement took another turn after 2016.

Progressives took this moment as a time to mount a wholesale retaliation against not only Donald Trump and his supporters, but also against organized religion, whiteness, scientific investigation, and anything that smacks of Western traditions, customs, and governance. American history, to the progressive left, had been a trail of oppression, exploitation, cruelty, with not a shred of good will or compassion found in their bleak telling.

So, what is this new progressive left mythology? I have found that it incorporates several dimensions that clearly distinguish it from the long-serving myths outlined above. Next in the series, August 28, Friday.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

 

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  

 

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The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, Three American Myths, pt. 2

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what is going on today. I am trying to make sense of the turmoil, uncertainty, and rage. I find it is hard to get clear answers.

02.1

Carl Jung

Upon closely following and reflecting upon this time of unrest, I have found that the rhetoric emerging from the progressive left reminds me of the making of a mythology. In response, I am drawn to exploring how progressives are actually formulating a mythology, rather than devising a new form of reality-based governance. This series of blogs will explore the making of a progressive myth. Here is part 2 …

Psychologist Carl Jung defines mythology as myths that are the expression of a culture or society’s goals, fears, ambitions and dreams. Folklorist Alan Dundes defines myth as a sacred narrative, “a story that serves to define the fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and delineating the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society.”

What strikes me about Dundes’ definition is that myths reflect the fundamental

02.2

Jerry Nadler (right) 

worldview of a society, and its ideals, values, practices, and goals. When talking about the progressive left we see mythmaking in action: taking shape, evolving, and adding new dimensions every day.

Myths are usually thought of as something that is untrue, fictional, or unprovable, instead of the broader definition that I described above. Congressman Jerry Nadler in July 2020 responded to questions about the violence associated with antifa in Portland, Oregon and he replied that antifa was a myth. In other words, it did not exist. This is the common usage of the term. But I would like to go deeper into the meaning and making of myth than its common usage allows.

02.3

Scientific Worldview

Even if we don’t believe that our society has myths, they are still with us lurking in the hidden recesses of our minds and exploding at times when they are called upon to emerge. I have found that American society has abided by three main myths in our over 200-year history as a nation: scientific, Western traditions, and material progress. Let’s look at these three American myths before delving into the progressive mythology.

02.4Although American society has pursued a more scientific/rational explanation for who we are as a nation, it is still a myth. Actually, Americans and Westerners in general have pursued a scientific mythology, where human actions, unknowable forces, and nature’s events are explained through scientific premises. It is a particular way of seeing the world: rational, logical, and analytical. Although this mythology could be incorporated into myth #2, its significance requires a stand-alone status.

Secondly, Americans have followed a mythology of Western traditions: liberalism, capitalism, individualism, Judeo/Christian religions, and the nuclear family. US and Western history and culture have a clear creation story emerging out of the traditions from Mesopotamia, Greek, Roman, and European culture. Merging together these 02.5traditions have given rise to a Liberal form of governance (representative government, bill of rights, and division of power), a capitalist economic system with recent regulations to protect more citizens, religious traditions that reinforce secular customs, an individualistic values system, and emphasis on a nuclear family rather than extended family.

Thirdly, for many years, the US has held to a mythology of material progress: through hard work, delayed gratification, and moral/ethical behavior, an individual and/or family can achieve the American dream of material rewards, safety and security, and respect if they follow these values and practices. It is a mythology that most American believed in and incorporated into their everyday lives. Although this narrative didn’t apply equally to all Americans (blacks, minorities, women, gay, etc.), it was extremely popular for many years nonetheless.

This narrative has been fraying for several decades but it has been badly damaged with the recent coronavirus isolation and protests involving the killing of George Floyd that a possible resurrection of the mythology seems unlikely at this point.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  

 

 

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The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, pt. 1

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what is going on today. It seems as though political division is rampant, communities are fraying, and the American middle class is, well, caught in the middle. How can we make sense of all this turmoil, uncertainty, and rage?

08.1I am trying to make sense of what is going on today. I find it is hard to get clear answers, since events are happening quickly and unpredictably, so much so that most people are left dazed and cemented into a mute and bewildered state.

Upon closely following and reflecting upon this time of unrest, I have found that the rhetoric emerging from the progressive left reminds me of the making of a mythology. In response to this unrest, I am drawn to exploring how progressives are actually formulating a mythology–rather than devising a new form of reality-based governance– and what it means to ourselves and our country. This series of blogs will explore this making of a progressive myth.

01.1 Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

I have had a long-time interest in mythology. I am particularly drawn to Carl Jung’s and Joseph Campbell’s interpretation of myth as manifestations of universal psychology mechanisms hidden in what Jung calls the collective unconscious. Myths vary according to cultural differences but underlying these myths, according to Jung and Campbell, are universal patterns upon which these cultural differences are stamped. Therefore, if one looks deep enough into myths and sweeps away cultural difference, certain patterns appear.

My interest in mythology has led me to surmise that a particular group of Americans (in 07.1 progressivefact, many Westerners) are in the process of forming a new mythology. In comparison to myths that usually evolve and change over hundreds if not thousands of years, this myth is developing rather quickly. This new mythology does not reflect the beliefs of the American people as a whole, but instead is attributable to a certain group who have garnered attention and success in the last couple of decades in forging a sizable movement: the progressive left.

Simply, I define the progressive left, in political terms, as a faction on the left side of the Democratic party. If the Democratic party is thought of as two wings—one is the middle or moderate wing—while the other wing—the progressive left—is to the left of the moderates concerning political issues.

01.2I have read several articles describing the progressive left as a new type of religion. I agree that in fact the leftist ideology does have many religious characteristics—certain rituals, good vs. evil themes, and constructing a new story of who they are. However, upon closer reflection, I find the term religion gets too confusing with what we think of established universal religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Instead, I make the case that the new progressive left is more closely embodying a new mythology rather than religion.

Next in this series of blogs, Friday, August 21

01.2 DeniseAbout the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

 

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 

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A Time to Speak Up: 12 Insights on Recent Events. #12 What does 2020 hold?

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

This is a momentous time that we are experiencing. Who can be trusted for wise council? Where are the elders? Elders have something to add to the conversation about what is going on today. I am one elder who feels I have something to say. The following is the last of the 12 Insights that I have learned and want to share with you.

13.1It seems as though a lifetime has flashed by in the first 8 months of 2020, and it is not over yet! I don’t think anyone will be sad to say good-bye to this year.

The question is what have we learned so far about the year 2020? I will highlight a few of my takeaways; they are not in a particular order.

1.  A Thin Veneer between Order and Chaos

13.2

Minneapolis 

I recently watched a segment on a news program about a woman and her husband who owned a thriving bar/restaurant in Minneapolis. With her voice chocking, she recalled the shock and anguish of discovering that rioters burnt her business to the ground after George Floyd’s death. She stood helplessly by as her hopes and dreams literally went up in smoke. She does not plan to rebuild.

Another riveting example of the thin veneer is the recent Chicago looting spree along the “Magnificent Mile,” a high-end shopping district in downtown. In a matter of hours, caravans of looters descended on targeted areas and systematically plucked clean stores ranging from ma and pa grocers to Saks Fifth Avenue. The police made 100 arrests but were outnumbered in the melee.

13.3

Chicago

The flip from order to chaos is surprisingly quick. We take for granted an orderly society, in which we can rely on safety and carrying out our everyday lives. The year 2020 has proven that this safety is not a guarantee.

 

2.  Looters and Rioters

We seem to have trouble with defining groups of people since the killing of George Floyd. For several months the term protester was used rather loosely. Now it is clear that the 02.2 antifasentiment behind protesting George Floyd’s death has no bearing on actions by violent groups today. I think it is safe to say that rioters are those who are intent on bringing down our system of government and economy. They appear to be largely white (not all) leftist groups, called Antifa by those on the right but largely unnamed by those on the left. I don’t know their numbers, but the mayhem and destruction they are fostering—especially in Seattle, Portland, and New York—is significant.

Rioters, on the other hand, do not seem to be politically minded, merely opportunist. 08.1They see this as a time of weakness, and strike. The latest looting epidemic in Chicago was the most recent example. The looting coupled with the ramifications of the coronavirus shutdown appears to place undue stress upon a very shaky economic foundation. The rioters, in my estimation, are also severely harming the good will generated from the George Floyd protests and the overdue examination of racism in American society.

Also, strangely, the looters and rioters are helping each other. I don’t think it is a planned cooperative effort, but the more chaos let loose by the looters, the rioters are able to make greater inroads into their goal of fomenting a revolution.

3.  The Coronavirus Pandemic

5.3 corona eyesThis unprecedented health pandemic has wrought uncertainty, despair, and anxiety through the entire world. The squabbling over different responses to the virus, is troubling as well. Like everything else in 2020, it has turned political, hampering common-sense solutions on both sides.
About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

 

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  

 

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