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.
We are treading in turbulent waters. Uncertainty wafts through the air, tensions descend like the mist over our uncertain future. I am very disturbed by recent events. Although the coronavirus adds to the misery, I find the political events and riots even more disturbing. It feels as if activity has evolved from legitimate protests about police brutality and inequality to an illegitimate all-out coup attempt by an amorphous group of anarchists or Antifa.
I watched a YouTube video of the graffiti-covered, beleaguered federal courthouse in Portland and thought to myself: this is an assault on the foundations and traditions of the
United States. Although I am critical about certain values, policies, and attitudes about the U.S., I always frame it as suggestions for reform, not tear down the whole system.
Traditions are under assault from toppling statues (without public debate), almost 200 to date, to the rewriting of history with the 1619 history project that asserts our country was built on slave labor. This means we should block out the workers who labored long hours in unsafe factories and mines in the 19th century. We should be wary about this mugging of our traditions, since traditions are what gives us the foundations for our way of life, government policy, social structure, and so on.
When traditions are toppled too rapidly it can cause anomie, despair, and hopelessness among members of society. Just ask indigenous peoples about the loss of their traditions, they can testify to the destruction it wields.
Those on the left are undermining values and traditions that have been the underpinning of American culture for centuries. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture recently displayed a graphic entitled “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness in the United States.” It declares that rational thinking, hard work, delayed gratification, the scientific method, nuclear family, planning for the future, among others, are white values. It doesn’t mention what black values are, I guess insinuating that they are not like white values. The graphic was removed but the intention was clear, these are white values and not the values of the progressive left.
As far as I can tell, some people on the far left are advocating for different values and traditions. What these values and traditions will be are quickly evolving and changing rapidly. Apparently, the nuclear family has to go, I guess community-based groups would be the “new family.” Authority structures would also go, so no more police, court systems, judges, or other rule-based institutions of the “white system.” Perhaps the same community-based groups would be the new rule-enforcing institutions. Our tradition of promoting equality of opportunity will be turned on its head, and whites will be the lowest on the social ladder, unable to advance because of the color of their skin.
It all seems rather preposterous at this point. But as an historian, I am always reminded of what happened during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, or the rule of Pol Pot in Cambodia. Their rules made no sense, but they were able to impose their brand of ruling through brute force and terrorism.
From the looks of what is going on in Portland, Seattle, and other major cities, the prospect of a dramatic change in our way of life and discarding of our traditions and Liberal form of government seems less preposterous by the day.
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