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.
#4 Look at the Big Picture
I am a firm believer in looking at everything from a “big picture” perspective. I am such a firm believer that I have written a book and taught classes about our human history over the last 40,000 years. When looking at this huge time scale, looking at the big picture is of primary importance.
I bring this up because as current events unfold, I am increasingly concerned about the big picture: these present attacks on our liberal democratic form of government and its history have profound ramifications. Frankly, I am stunned by the ill-informed actions and messages coming from those stoking the fires of a “political revolution.” There is a mixed message about what they really want and are fighting for. Perhaps the real goal is intentionally shrouded in obscurity because the idea of a Marxist state is so repulsive to most Americans, while fighting racism seems more benign.
The killing of George Floyd unleashed a torrent of animosity towards police and law enforcement authorities by protesters and their allies. One of their “demands” is to defund the police. By targeting the police and law enforcement in general, they (protesters, etc.) are targeting the protectors of the existing order. In many cases, police morale has been shattered, their dignity assailed, and their confidence undermined. Police authority to maintain order and safety has been severely compromised. I don’t think we have fully comprehended what this means. But, as shootings and violence have skyrocketed in many of our nation’s cities, I believe we are getting a taste for what can happen.
As the unraveling of the foundation of the U.S. gets underway, what kind of society is being promoted as a replacement. A complex nation, such as the United States, is a web of institutions, norms, behaviors, and values that have taken years to build up and solidified in place by laws, agreed upon mores, and endless civic debate.
I am afraid, the protesters have not thought about the consequences of chipping away at this massive block of stability and order. As a student of world history, I can attest that the collapse of a society is not a pretty picture. It is bound to produce chaos, a plummeting standard of living, and the loss of life. Are we willing to let a vibrant (although flawed in many ways) society be eviscerated for a unattainable utopian ideal?
Reform has been construed as a “dirty” word by many of the protesters. They want action now. But as the “experiment” in Seattle is any indications of what this utopian idea may look like, we should be rightfully concerned. Many of the protesters say reform is too slow, doesn’t bring about the desired change, and only reinforces the existing system. Reform is often slow and the results are stretched over a long period of time, making the reforms seem as thought they are ineffective. Slow acceptance is precisely what reforms should do. Humans generally do not adapt well to rapid change, it is too unsettling.
My plea is for those who are bent on wrecking the “system” to step back and look at the big picture of these actions. These destructive actions have unforeseen consequences that will most likely be negative. Building a society based on equality and justice does not magically appear. It takes years of patience, debate, multiple viewpoints, and solid leadership to create.
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