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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A Time for Elders to Speak Up: 12 Insights on Recent Events. #1 Educate Yourself

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 are 12 Insights that I have learned and want to share with you.

Insight #1.  Educate Yourself

02 questionsBefore shouting, ranting, protesting, or calling out others, educate yourself about the issue or issues you are for or against. Internet access is widely available and has a wealth of information that you can access. You don’t have to be an expert but at least know enough to be able to speak coherently, or if you don’t know much about the topic, realize your ignorance and ask lots of questions. The questions don’t even have to be very good, just ask questions, one has to start somewhere.

I have been perplexed about recent events and decided to investigate some of the issues. It appeared the central issue was police brutality in reaction to the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer. The obvious question was, “Why are police brutal?” The one-word answer to that question was on the lips of just about all media, protesters, celebrities, academic, and every day person: racism. Although I acknowledge that racism 01.1is surely part of the story, I abhor single cause explanations to complex problems, there has to be more to it than racism alone. My quest for answers has taken me in unexpected directions.

Since I claim to be a centrist in my politics and views, I wanted to look at what left-leaning and right-leaning media were saying about racism. I found that the left-leaning media was pretty monolithic in their view that structural/systemic racism is pervasive. This whole concept is rather vague and doesn’t get to some of the questions I want answers to. Therefore, I decided that I would find sources that are the opposite of me. Since I am a white, female, elder, centrist (somewhat left-leaning), I would find black, male, young, and conservative commentators. Could there even be individuals who fit this criterion?

My search started with reading an article in Quillette, an on-line magazine that challenges orthodoxy.

02.2 John McWhorter

John McWhorter

John McWhorter wrote an article entitled Racist Police Violence Reconsidered. He thought about police brutality from a big picture perspective. He and other black commentators I discovered through my research were not afraid to dive into black on black violence, black poverty, black interaction with police, the legacy of slavery, past discrimination, ramifications from the Great Society programs, cultural aspects, family break-down, white guilt, and riots over the years in black neighborhoods that have left long-term and devastating costs on economic development.

I have been impressed with the black commentators that I have found, they provide thoughtful analysis that draw on different research studies and personal experiences, not empty slogans and unsubstantiated accusations. One YouTube video was particularly enlightening to me, and I highly recommend it: Riots, and the Police. It features four African American commentators who forthrightly talk about hot-button issues rampaging across America today.

02.3 Coleman Hughes

Coleman Hughes

One commentator I have found particularly interesting and insightful is a young, black, man, Coleman Hughes. He has a number of podcasts on YouTube that are very thoughtful. Although he states he is a moderate Democrat, he carefully explains his positions and examines evidence and research studies. Yes, he looks at the evidence. He bravely stated on one of his podcasts that black on black violence is the “elephant in the room.” It affects not only the lives of innocent people, but discourages investment in black neighborhoods leaving inner city areas a “desert” of economic activity. Despite its dismissal by BLM activists, Hughes thinks that is the issue we should be addressing since it has such far-reaching ramifications.

I have found that a good practice for me is to look at as many diverse voices as possible. This means voices from diverse groups of African Americans, protesters, police, “woke” whites, and many others. Walking in their shoes or considering their perspective for even a few short minutes, has given me an insightful glimpse into why they are behaving as they are. This practice has given me a more expanded view of events today.

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, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network.  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 programs: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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 awareness, bridging the cultural divide, cultural divide, diversity, perspectives, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Time for Elders to Speak Up: 12 Insights on Recent Events

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

02.3 defund the policeThis is a momentous time that we are experiencing: events happen rapidly, opinions morph daily, actions occur impulsively, mobs act randomly, and politicians squabble bitterly. Everything seems to be spiraling out of control. The vast majority of people seem to be perplexed and frozen into inaction, while those with the energy and righteousness of their convictions take control to wield anarchy and chaos in their wake.  Who can be trusted for wise council?

Where are the elders? In traditional and indigenous societies, the elders were the trusted advisors to the community. They had learned valuable lessons over the years from their society’s previous disagreements, divisions, and petty squabbles that unfortunately occur in every human community. Developing wisdom over the years was a time-honored tradition for the elders, since they knew that when the time came they would have to step up to lend their accumulated insights for the greater-good of the community. It was a duty and contribution that all in the community were grateful for and relied upon.

17 Kung woman, Africa, photo Izla

!Kung elder, Botswana, Africa

The tradition of drawing on elder wisdom has faded with modern society. Just like traditions, rituals, and stories from the past, elders—their ideas and leadership—are considered hopelessly outdated relics to be discarded like a cardboard cereal box.

American society has been socialized to admire youthfulness, especially since the end of World War II. To pad their bottom-line, the advertising industry has led the way in shaping American culture to worship the proverbial fountain of youth. This glorification of youth culture has spilled over into our current idea that young people are now ready and able to take over the governance of society.

The “woke” Millennials and Gen Z are rushing around making demands on anyone who will listen. The older generations need to get out of the way, since the young have the virtues and skills to remake society into their idea of an utopian vision. Many of them fervently believe that they have the moral high-ground to impose dramatic changes on what they perceive as a hopelessly racist and corrupt society.

2.1 EmpathyBut I would like to say, wait a moment. We still have a democracy that values input from many voices who have a right to be heard. Many of us have listened as the youth have demanded that we consider those who have been marginalized in American society through the years and are now asking to be heard. But listening is a two-way street, also time for elder voices to be considered. Young people have blamed elders for every negative thing that has happened in the last 70 years, but we have not been thanked for positive things that have happened.

I disagree with those who say that it is time for elders to move over and let the younger generation run affairs. Although I am certainly in favor of having youth involvement, as an educator for many years, I have found that young people have a lot to learn. Youth may think that they have all the knowledge necessary to run affairs, but there are still many new experiences to reflect upon or lessons to be learned from study, research, and careful observations.

7.3 Tutu with Obama

Desmund Tutu and Barack Obama

Elders have something to add to the conversation about what is going on today. We have a wealth of experience, a first-class education, and learned a lot about human nature to help guide the next generations. Before there is an uprising that threatens to overturn everything we have built over the decades and centuries, let’s take a pause and listen to thoughts from elders who are speaking out.

I am one elder who feels I have something to say. Although I don’t portend to speak for all elders, I would like to share with you my 12 insights about the recent events in the following series of blogs. These insights are drawn from my varied personal experiences, scholarly research, academic training, and looking at issues from multiple perspectives. I have tried to walk in other people’s shoes as much as possible and see their perspectives.

Follow my blog series over the next several weeks to see what I have learned.

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, professional development, 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, and teaching units for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames has now turned her attention to encouraging 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 her five programs: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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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#11 Top Down Models and #12 Easy to Tear Down: 12 Reflections on the Past Several Weeks 

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. My point in this blog is to reflect upon what I see as some of the topics or questions that are being ignored or not sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.

The following series of blogs offer #11 and #12 of my 12 Reflections:

#11. Top Down Models

02.3 defund the policeI have read some of the proposals made by the Black Lives Matter movement and others “demanding” change, and I have found that many of them are implementing a “top down” approach. Some city leaders, for example, are “defunding” parts of the police departments without getting community feedback or putting these measures to a vote. The democratic process is messy, with all sides having a voice in measures so important as defunding the police. The democratic principles, the basis of our country, are being abandoned in the name of “righting the wrongs of the past.”

 

  1. It Takes Minutes to Tear Down, but Centuries to Build

I am astonished at the rabid actions of a number of activists who are tearing down and defacing statues and monuments that represent our history and traditions. Although I am not particularly fond of Confederate statues, it seems as though there should be community input into the fate of these statues rather than a mob impulsively wielding hammers and spray paint.

5.1 defaced WWII monument

Defaced World War II monument, Washington D. C.

As a world historian, I remind my students in their first class to avoid presentism as much as possible. This concept warns us to judge people and events in history within the context of their times. This perspective sees Thomas Jefferson, for example, as a forward-thinking politician taking bold steps to forge a new nation. The vast majority of people at the time did not regard slavery as a moral issue. In fact, slavery has been as a system of bondage used across the world for centuries, including in Africa. Evaluating historical figures should not be a black and white exercise, there are shades of grey that give these figures depth and complexity. Looking back, it useful to note that Jefferson was a slave-owner, but also that he was a man of his times in this regard.

5.2 slavery

Arab slave trade in Indian Ocean, 19th century

Many activists judge our founding fathers from the values of today, instead of evaluating them on their actions within their historical context. Even poor Abe, the most skilled politician in our country’s history at moving public sentiment and policies about slavery forward, has seen a hatchet job. This lesson of presentism seems to be lost on marauding bands of ill-formed statue defacers, who probably missed that class in history.

I am also appalled at the move advocated by some to transform our country’s democratic foundation to one more akin to Identitarian Marxism. It is easy to tear down the past and all our traditions, successes and failures, in a move to replace it with a utopian ideal that will hardly work in a real world setting.

We need to be mindful of these 12 reflections before events get out of hand and there is no turning back to a time in our country when the democratic process was the norm. As our people and institutions lumber through this tumultuous time, hopefully, we will be able to eventually settle bringing about change to our way of life despite all the obstacles and mayhem that lies in its wake.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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 awareness, cultural divide, politics, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Demands and “White Privilege”: 12 Reflections on the Past Several Weeks 

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. My point in this blog is to reflect upon what I see as some of the topics or questions that are being ignored or not sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.

The following series of blogs offer #9 and #10 of my 12 Reflections:

#9  Demands

02.3 defund the policeIt irks me to no end when protesters and other social activists use the word demand as they put forth proposals for change. Demand sounds like something a child would shout when not getting his or her own way. Demand also implies that the other side has to do the work, all the demander has to do is sit back and judge if the demandee’s actions meet the proper criteria they set forth. Demand also implies an adversarial relationship, not a cooperative one. If the protesters demand an end to police brutality, what are they going to do to try and end it as well. Now I know why demands are made so often by social activists, it lifts the responsibility from the demander and shifts it to the demandee.

#10 White Privilege

4.1 white privilegeI hear the term white privilege constantly tossed about. However, I do not agree with the concept and I am offering a different perspective of the term.  The term is supposed to convey the idea that whites have gained their status at the top of the American social and economic ladder because of their skin color. Since whites founded the country, this privilege has trickled down through the generations. There is truth to this line of reasoning, but it is more complex than this simplistic explanation.

To me white should be removed altogether, since it implies that other people of color do no have privilege, only whites. Also, the word privilege conveys the idea that whites 4.2inherit all this privilege without any effort, it just magically falls into their laps. I think a better term is Adopted Behaviors. This means that privilege or reward come to those who adopt certain behaviors. Unlike the term white privilege, which renders non-whites as victims who have no way to escape their oppressive status, adopted behaviors implies that to achieve privilege or rewards, the individual has the opportunity to consciously adopt these behaviors.

People who have inculcated these adopted behaviors, attitudes, and values—work ethic, perseverance, self-discipline, social skills, and competitive/cooperative abilities—are rewarded in American society. These behaviors are transmitted and reinforced by the 4.3family, schools, community, religious institutions, and society at large. These behaviors give a person a leg-up in finishing their education, getting a job, having a functional family, and developing into a person who gives back to others.

Many blacks have inculcated these Adopted Behaviors and escaped poverty, and other limiting lifestyles such as crime, violence, and aimlessness, others have not. Same is true with other groups, but one can argue that generally there is a larger percentage of blacks who have not inculcated these values and have found themselves living in poverty or incarcerated.

4.4

On a podcast interview, the interviewer, not seeing him,  accused him of having white privilege

I would argue that through the years many whites have inculcated these Adopted Behaviors, which has given them advantages in American society. Blacks—because of poverty, family break down, legacy of slavery, and racism—have had more difficulty in internalizing these values. The Gangster culture, mentioned in #6, idealized by many blacks, has hindered adoption of these values by some younger people.

The term white privilege, as mentioned, also lends itself to the idea that people of color are the victims, and it is the whites who have to change to accommodate those they supposedly victimize. Instead of this victim/oppressor dichotomy, I think a realistic discussion of what white privilege really means is needed.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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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#3 The Looting/Rioting Element: 12 Reflections on the Past Several Weeks 

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. My point in this blog is to reflect upon what I see as some of the topics or questions that are being ignored or not sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.

The following series of blogs offer my 12 Reflections:

#3.  The Looting/Rioting Element

Much of the liberal media is separating the protesters from the looters with a sharp dividing line. In fact, in the early days of the event, for example, PBS News Hour barely 03.1 lootingmentioned the mayhem in the streets, loss of life, and destruction of property, much of it disproportionately affecting the people hardest hit by the pandemic and rioting. Some of the conservative media conflates the two in one broad sweep. Either way you look at it, the looters played a huge and destructive role in events and their destructive role called out.

Even though I think the conservative media should have been more careful in separating the two groups, they were right to direct attention to what was going on, aside from protesting, and to be alarmed and disgusted by the looters’ mayhem, violence, and brazen aggression. How can some protesters call for defunding the police when many of the looters were wantonly kicking and beating those who stand in their way from breaking windows and snatching luxury goods?

03.2 lootingAs far as I know, many of the looters were black (not all), who happen to be the very group that protesters want to “protect.” Many conflated all blacks into those who need their paternalistic protection, looters included. This seems counterintuitive. The looters are a criminal element in American society that are largely the target of police activity, they are certainly different from blacks who want safety and security in their neighborhoods. When devising “social services,” recognizing that African Americans are a diverse mixture of different groups with different values, incomes, and aspirational goals is a high priority.

03.3 Blackburn

Blackburn Jr. High School, Jackson, Mississippi

I taught in an all-black school (97%) in Jackson, MS in the 1970s for several years. During that time, I worked very hard to reach all my students. I enjoyed working with about two-thirds of my students who wanted to learn and were respectful despite many of them whose abilities fell below grade-level. About one-third of my students were even more woefully below grade-level, and many had attitudes that resisted and rejected my efforts. I talked to the principal of the school, a very strict African American man, about my disappointment that my efforts to “teach” some of the students were failing. He said something I will always remember, “Even Jesus couldn’t save them all.”

I compare my realization that I couldn’t reach all my students to what many on the left have yet to learn: there are many black and white criminals who will never be saved, no matter how many police are sent in or how many social programs are there to “help.” Prison seems to be their fate. Although I feel they should be given lots of chances to “mend their ways,” I have found that the behaviors, attitudes, and values that guided them on their path of crime are hard, if not impossible, to change. Some are not going to make it.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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 awareness, cultural divide, perspectives, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rioting, Class, and Black on Black Violence: 12 Reflections on the Past Month

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. My point in this blog is to reflect upon what I see as some of the topics or questions that are being ignored or not sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.

The following are #3, #4, and #5 of my 12 Reflections:

#3.  The Looting/Rioting Element

03.2 lootingMuch of the liberal media separated the protesters from the looters with a sharp dividing line. In fact, in the early days of the event, for example, PBS News Hour barely mentioned  the mayhem in the streets and destruction of property, much of it disproportionately affecting the people hardest hit by the pandemic and rioting. Some of the conservative media conflates the two in one broad sweep. Either way you look at it, the looters/rioters played a huge and destructive role in events and their destructive role should be called out.

#4.  Class: The Unmentionable Word

As I saw it, I conflated African Americans participating in the event into two “classes.” Largely, middle class young blacks were marching for the end of police brutality and supporting Black Lives Matter, while many “underclass” blacks were looting in the03.1 looting streets. I read the account of one reporter who joined the protests and noted the two groups. He pointed out that when an opportune time came, the looters broke from the larger group to carry out their unlawful acts. As noted in point #3, these two groups are quite different and I if the trends continue, reforms and policies that are advanced will disproportionately help those who need it least, and will not address the real needs of the black underclass.

#5.  Black on Black Violence

3.1 crime

Blacks are 13.4% of the American population

I have seen where black on black violence is now considered a racist term, but I can’t find any other term to succinctly describe it. Despite the “contested” term, it is the elephant in the room when it comes to police reform and trying to remedy inequality. There are good statistics and studies that show the number of black victims at the hands of other blacks is staggering. It dwarfs the number of unarmed blacks that police shoot each year (9 in 2019). But it is largely unmentioned in discussions about reform among those on the left. These out-of-control killings are terrorizing neighborhoods and killing defenseless black citizens. It is such a tragedy that it cannot be ignored.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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.

 

DivCover-dsDivided: 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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#2 Exhausted Liberalism is Under Attack: 12 Reflections on the Past Several Weeks  

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. My point in this blog is to reflect upon what I see as some of the topics or questions that are being ignored or not sufficiently addressed during this anxious time. Reflecting upon what the events mean to us as Americans, may help us to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.

The following series of blogs offer my 12 Reflections:

#2  Exhausted Liberalism is Under Attack

DivCover-dsI have come to the conclusion that a new political/cultural faction has seized this moment to bring their cause into a larger arena: “the successor ideology.”  I have explained this idea in my book Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews (but used different terms) and came across this term to describe an advancing ideology. Liberalism, our defining ideology for several centuries, is under attack. The liberal/democratic ideals that we are all familiar with include rational discourse, data-driven evidence, religious and press freedom, right to assembly and speech, and many others. Perplexing to me, some 20-somethings and others are working to undo our liberal foundation and are advancing their successor ideology that they intend to follow after the demise of liberalism.

The youth have the vitality and conviction that their ideas are “true,” while liberals lay shaken and exhausted in the corner. 02.1 capitalismMany young people passionately want to oust liberalism for many reasons, chiefly because they believe it is an exploitative system of oppression defined by racism and capitalism. The platform of the successor ideology is rather vague and shifts according to events: rabid feminism, trans rights, anti-capitalism/pro-socialism, environmental catastrophe, and probably the most fervent of all is anti-racism.

Initiating a successor ideology is not necessarily a peaceful movement, as some of the protesters have hailed the violence perpetuated by looters and the antifa movement as 02.2 antifavirtuous. Leadership is rather fluid, with some elected progressive officials taking a leadership role only to be booed off stage by those advocating more radical measures. The mayor of Minneapolis, for example, walked off-stage to humiliating boos of the assembled protesters when he wouldn’t go along with their demands to defund the police.

The successor ideology has taken root on college campuses over the last several decades throughout the United States and in the media—as the New York Times recently experienced with its Tom Cotton editorial debacle. It is also playing out in city councils, who are backing measures to defund the police, or to shift responsibilities to community-based services and programs (as yet undefined). They are impulsively doing so without 02.3 defund the policedata-based studies or protypes to ensure success. Even corporate America, always wanting to connect with potential customers, is calling for more diversity training and examining their white privilege. All the while, channeling millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter and like-minded organizations, perhaps to assure that they are not targeted by the wrath of protestors.

Will the successor ideology be able to take hold in America? It has the most energy behind it at the moment, but movements to make rapid and deep cultural changes often fade away as the “silent majority” takes stock of the situation and responds to retain the status quo or initiate incremental change.

This is crucial time to stand up for our liberal (broad sense, classical) heritage. It is too 02.4 liberalismeasy to tear down what has taken centuries to build at great sacrifice. Rapid and forced change does not last, it only stokes resentment. Hopefully, our exhausted and liberal leaders (often elderly) can find their voice, among all the shouting and shaming, to proclaim that our real treasure is our democratic institutions that can be changed but not torn down. 

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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 George Floyd Event: 12 Reflections

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.1The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. When this earth-shattering event is superimposed upon a deadly coronavirus pandemic still at large, it has seized the attention of an American public. The protests, along with the accompanying acts of violence and looting, have often outraged and befuddled us at the same time. One friend commented, “I can’t make sense of any of this.”

What the effects of the protests will be is still being sorted out. Hopefully, it will bring about positive change for African Americans, who have felt that police have disproportionately mistreated and targeted them for many years. My point in this blog is not to rehash the events (protests, looting, and aftermath) being written about in liberal and conservative newsrooms. There are many gripping stories that tell a wide range of viewpoints about what has happened.

Yet, I have found that there are many underlying issues that have bubbled up from the core of our country to the surface during this tumultuous time.01.2 bubbling up Also, I have found that there are some topics or questions that are not being sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.

The following series of blogs offer my 12 Reflections:

  1.  Seeing the “Events” Through Bound Assumptions

I have read numerous publications (from conservative to left-wing) about the events and came away disturbed and fascinated about the range of opinions. Each perspective offers its own causes, what happened, and possible solutions. Each perspective has its own merits, since the events were complex, multi-faceted, and played out across our huge nation.

01.3 perspectivesI also found that each perspective is undergirded by what I call bound assumptions. These assumptions are axioms, a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true. The statement that is taken to be true serves as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. So there are times when each side builds their entire argument on a bogus foundation.

Bounded assumptions are particularly relevant in the case of protesters who were shouting out misinformation about police violence. Frequent signs claimed “they’re killing us” or “we are afraid to go outside because of police attacks.” Since the number of unarmed black people killed by police in 2019 was only nine, their message was not based on evidence but uncritical acceptance of a bogus narrative. However, from their particular worldview many of the protesters thought this message was true.

Debunking false narratives is more difficult than it appears. We are a culture that pride itself on our use of reason, science, and data, yet, for the most part, we only believe data that supports our emotional conclusions.

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About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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.

DivCover-dsDivided: 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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Traditionalist Have an Advantage: Bridging the Cultural Divide, pt. 11

This is the eleventh first of an 18-part series that explores our deep cultural divide and offers 10 suggestions about how we can contribute to bridging the divide.

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

Suggestion #7: Traditionalists Have an Advantage, pt. 2

11.1 DurkheimDurkheim claims that sacredness is about society and its collective concerns. If he is right then Democrats must find a way to incorporate the sacred into their messages that goes beyond the use of words like “God” and “faith.” It is hard to portray a Whole Foods store as sacred, but featuring nature as sacred is an obvious and worthy choice. Democrats could close the sacredness gap if they get beyond the idea of society as Weird.

Instead of just a collection of individuals each with an array of rights, progressives could demonstrate that the whole of humanity is in need of care and compassion. Haidt notes, “Our national motto is e pluribus unum (‘from many, one’). Whenever Democrats support policies that weaken the integrity and identity of the collective (such as multiculturalism, bilingualism, and immigration), they show that they care more about pluribus than unum. They widen the sacredness gap.” When 11.2 plurbus unumRepublicans say that Democrats “just don’t get it,” this is the “it” to which they refer.

Democrats often try to explain away conservative positions on guns, god, and immigration by using pop psychology, which often alienates conservatives and progressives earn the elitist label. But conservative ideas need to be understood as ways to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. Haidt questions, “how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?” Perhaps lessons from Durkheim can help progressives understand the traditionalists’ wide range of moral foundations.

11.3 moral foundationsBringing in the three moral foundations advanced by Durkheim—loyalty, authority, and sanctity—means that the traditionalists have an expanded moral range. Progressives need to be aware of these advantages when advancing policies and trying to win elections. In fact, it might be worthwhile for progressives to expand their moral range without betraying their principles. They might be able to improve their policies by incorporating and praising some traditionalists’ insights.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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 reflection 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.

04.4 DividedDivided: 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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Traditionalist Have an Advantage: Bridging the Cultural Divide, pt. 10

This is the tenth of an 18-part series that explores our deep cultural divide and offers 10 suggestions about how we can contribute to bridging the divide.

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

Suggestion #7: Traditionalists Have an Advantage, pt. 1

10.1 big 5 personality traitsTraditionalists and progressives have different personality traits, partially inherited and also socially and culturally influenced. Conservatives tend to be cognitively fixed, favor hierarchy, and are wary of uncertainty, change, and differences. When people vote for conservative candidates they do so because the candidates often offer “moral clarity”—a simple vision of good and evil that helps alleviate the voter’s deep seated fears and distrusts.

Democrats, in contrast, are more open to novel experiences and more readily accept change and diversity than traditionalists. Progressive candidates appeal to voters’ reasoning capabilities and offer detailed policy proposals with long-winded explorations of policy options that are superimposed on a complex and shifting world.

10.2 logicProgressive ways of thinking—reason, logic, analysis, and objectivity—are encouraged by our educational system and are valued as superior to emotional ways of thinking. Educational tests score students’ analytical abilities in which those with the highest scores are awarded prestigious college slots and academic recognition. Thus, progressives often think their logical, analytical ways of thinking and being are at the top of the moral order and dismiss those who are different. This ranking of ways of thinking is discriminatory but it is so well entrenched in society that it prevails unchallenged. It also gives progressives an elitist air that traditionalists disdain.

10.3 voting republicanProgressives often explain away conservative successes as aberrant and convince themselves that they hold the moral high ground. Since they have self-determined who is among the educational elite, progressives have decided that there is nothing to learn from other worldviews. This blinds progressives to the fact that, as Haidt explains, “one of the main reasons that so many Americans voted Republican over the last 30 years: they honestly prefer the Republican vision of a moral order to the one offered by Democrats. To see what Democrats have been missing, it helps to take off the halo.”

Republicans have become the party of the sacred, appropriating issues of God, faith, and religion, but also sacred symbols of the nation such as the flag, military, and constitution. The progressives, on the other hand, have become the party of secular lifestyles and material interests. Haidt points out that “Democrats often seem to think of voters as consumers; they rely on polls to choose a set of policy positions that will convince 51% of the electorate to buy. Most Democrats don’t understand that politics is more like religion than it is like shopping.”

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

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 reflection 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.

Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate TDivCover-dshem 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 bridging the cultural divide, cultural divide, differences, perspectives, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment