The Shrew View on Progress vs Progressivism

I am not a big fan of what is currently called “identity politics” which seems to be infiltrating many discussions (political or not) these days. I think the focus on marginalized people only adds to the struggle our country has to free itself from the scourge of “ism’s” that should not define people. I’ve heard it argued that it is because of our whiteness in the United States that people of color have little success in our culture. In this case the “whiteness” means that white people who hold all the privileges unconsciously exclude people of color (POC) in hiring practices and/or promotion choices and if they consciously exclude POC then this practice is biased and racist, and that without exception white people are all racist as well as the U.S. culture itself including its science and curricula.

I have also heard it said that it takes three generations to get past a traumatic experience…This makes some sense. As Erich Fromm puts it, “…something life defining and deeply intimate is over.” The child recognizes how the former generation as shaped their own experiences and how they have been charged through the stories and experiences to carry the trauma into the future. One helps to heal future generations by rising above the remnants of these past injuries. This is the very definition of the word progress. AND I believe this progress works within cultural traumas as well.

Our most recent example of a cultural trauma is 9/11. My generation bore witness to a tragic man made event which killed thousands of people on American soil on September 11, 2001. My children are growing up with the stories about the event which include stories that affected my family who were traveling by plane from Boston on that morning. Now, every time my children travel they must listen to my admonition to be safe and stay aware of their surroundings, look for exits and never let down their guard. They were in elementary school at the time of 9/11 so these stories have been transferred to them in ways that I might not totally comprehend, yet they live their lives with less attachment to this event as will their children who will hopefully not even need to experience the left-over wars against terrorism that still exist today. My grandchildren will live with the televised memorial ceremonies, but they will be far removed from the actual trauma. This progress toward healing is culturally significant and forever part of U.S. history because we must never forget in order to not repeat these actions. Experience is felt on an individual basis…My experience isn’t the same as your experience.

With identity politics the marginalized groups will never experience the progress of healing if their stories are not allowed to have generational closure. When no closure occurs, then Progressivism is allowed to rear its ugly head. Progressivism advocates social reform with goals that are politically motivated. It demands radical change in current cultural systems in order to “improve” society. The people who push for progressive methods care little for historical context. Instead, the leap forward must be made based on current thought, expert advise and/or empathetic emotion.

If we take a look at the historical context of the Emancipation Proclamation, we can learn a lot about progress vs Progressivism:

The Civil War started in 1861 because the Confederate southern slave states did not want to be part of the United States if they could not keep slavery in tact. It wasn’t until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that the slaves were finally freed…Many of these freed slaves fought in the Civil War against the Confederacy, and the addition of these men to the Union effort helped to win the Civil War against the Confederacy. There were many proud acts of heroism by Negro soldiers during that time.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, Congress enacted the Freedman’s Bureau and passed the Civil Rights Bill in 1866 after Lincoln’s death because the southern states which were majority Democrat began to pass their own “black codes” to hinder the progress of Negroes in their states. Congress at that time was majority Republican. Andrew Johnson (Lincoln’s Vice President and now President after Lincoln’s assassination) did not want to force reconstruction of the south because he was determined to respect states’ rights, however the Congress over-rode his veto of The Reconstruction Act of 1867 and both the 14th and 15th Amendments. For ten years Negroes enjoyed the freedoms of all free male citizens and held many state and Congressional leadership roles. During this time the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) targeted many Republicans, whites and blacks who were sympathetic to the reconstruction.

Even though great strides were being made toward civil freedoms at this time, uncontrollable events happened to cause an economic depression during 1874. The financial panic of 1873 was a result of over-expansion in industry and railroads, a drop in European demand for American farm products, and a drop off of European investment. To compound matters, the U.S. Congress (which had long held its Republican majority) was pushed to pass the Compromise of 1876 which resulted in the U.S. federal government pulling the last troops out of the South ending the Reconstruction era. After this happened the southern states reverted many Negro owned lands back to whites, enacted segregation laws and worked to disenfranchise the negro. These regressive conditions would remain in place for a century until the 1965 Civil Rights Movement.

What can we learn from these historical events? Here are my thoughts:

1) The country was divided philosophically. There were slave states where slavery was legal and “free” states where slavery was illegal. Abolition of slavery was being thought about since about 1830, one generation before the Civil War.

2) “Rights” were understood as property rights and state’s rights, therefore the Confederacy of southern states saw Lincoln’s actions as tyrannical. We should keep in mind that at this time “civil rights” were not a concept, for instance during this time women could only own inherited property and their rights were limited to state enacted laws.

3) Slaves were “property”. The Civil War happened because the southern slave states wanted their autonomy as slave states, but Lincoln and the Republican controlled Congress did not want a “divided” country.

4) The Emancipation Proclamation was finally given almost two years after the war started because the Confederacy’s strength needed to be crippled. Freed slaves signed up for the fight against the Confederacy even though they had no guarantee of a sure outcome. Their heroism needs to be recognized in our history books and with more statues since these stories and their context in history help future generations heal from the trauma of slavery.

5) The Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was the first federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law without regard to race, color, or previous condition. We must remember that a law does not necessarily change hearts and minds…The southern states still had the autonomy to pass laws to curb the conduct of Negroes therefore Congress passed the 14th amendment (no state shall enact laws that abridge the privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens) and 15th amendment (the right of citizens to vote can not be abridged by the U.S. or any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude). Also, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act to enforce compliance by the southern states after the Civil War.

6) The Republican Congress at that time was in a struggle with President Andrew Johnson over Presidential powers…Johnson wanted to be more lenient with Reconstruction. What does his impeachment teach us about the balance of power during that time?

7) Reconstruction enforcement remained for only ten years…Economic uncertainty and politics unfortunately did not allow for the new conditions under military enforcement to remain for longer because if they had remained for at least ten more years, I believe the next generation would have been closer to healing the trauma of slavery. Instead, southern Democrat leaders began to implement “progressive” laws to deal with “improving” society in their states, and the KKK was allowed to run rampant.

8) The actions from 1830 to 1876 were progress for the anti-slavery movement and the future “civil rights” that we think of today…REMEMBER that only white men with property could vote during much of this time AND reason prevailed. “Whiteness” could not necessarily be equated to being “Racist”.

The Preamble ratified June 21, 1788:

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States of America, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America...This Preamble sets the tone for progress!

My next blog will focus on the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and the progress that was made during that time toward civil justice.

Shrew View…Love Binds People of Good Will

Love binds people of goodwill…A repost from a year ago.

Today is a day to reflect on the message of Martin Luther King, JR.  His is a message of love and freedom; a freedom guaranteed by God and reflected in the U.S. Constitution:

“…in order to form a more perfect Union…secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

In the early 1960’s there was no better person to secure these Blessings for people of color.  Our lawmakers failed to be responsible leaders entrusted to uphold the Constitution.  One might suggest that this failed responsibility dates all the way back to our founding as a nation, but I think that would be taking the easy route, condemning every step toward the progress of achieving a message of freedom.

“Humans have been literally torturing each other for centuries as they grope toward this Chalis of fulfillment.”     – The Shrew

Our U.S. Constitution is the tool enabling wholeness in our country.  No other country puts the responsibility of freedom in the hands of each individual.  It is law makers who abuse this insight by putting limits on ideas instead of on their lawmaking capabilities.  Martin Luther King, JR knew instinctively that the idea of a black person sitting where a sign indicated that they were not allowed by law to sit would challenge the lawmaker’s unconstitutional limitations on God’s creation.  King gave power back to the people – all people, because injustice is never visible in God’s kingdom which is where the human soul finds strength to conquer the perceived injustice in the world of mankind.

Love binds people of goodwill.  In a nation of diverse ideas, those people of goodwill come together to solve the issues at hand.  There is no us vs. them.  There is only…

“We the People…”

I’m Shrewd: Somebody Has A Plan For You

Now more than ever we need the Female Principle identified and honored for what it is, a balancing affect on the “Resistance Movement”.

Balance is implicit in the experience of wholeness for humans. There can be no doubt that male and female are identifiable characteristics for the basis of scientific theory in much of nature. However, science does also identify crucial differences in the natural order of procreation and therefor must consider these differences when recording data for more theoretical analysis. For instance it is a fact that approximately one out of every 2000 human babies are born with ambiguous genitalia. This ambiguity has many variations (visit childrenshospital.org for more information), and I would imagine that each of these babies have incredible challenges ahead in a society.

Beyond science, we humans need a connection to concepts of the human spiritual plain in order to inform us about our deepest desires and higher aspirations…These desires and aspirations are not found in science and therefor we humans must relay them and relate to them through a more metaphysical means. I think a good statement to reflect this is, “Somebody has a plan for you.” I would like to show how  this statement can be applied to the 3 core realms of consciousness:

  1. State
  2. Self
  3. Creation

1. State: The United States is currently experiencing a shift in cultural belief systems. No where is this more obvious than with the almost weekly coalition of demonstrators. We might notice that these demonstrations accrue as we get closer to elections. For the most part these demonstrations claim to be representative of a majority of “the people”, however I would classify them simply as public lobbyists – influencers who appeal to the media for attention rather than serve as individuals among a diverse group of thinkers perhaps on a civic board or commission. Personally, I serve on two boards and one commission and I find it to be very rewarding volunteer service in my community.

Singularly focused social action demonstrations are driven by outside agitators who envision a Utopia…”Somebody has a plan for you” in this sense means that the State (or governing authority) should be in charge of organizing all aspects of your life so that you will never want for anything. Balance is not achievable because it is slanted only toward State action.

2. Self: This word is very tricky to understand because what we are really involved with here is the ego. Ego pays little attention to community or spirit. “Somebody has a plan for you” becomes “You have a plan for you” and the ego is driven toward that end. Confusion and indecision of your plan can cause tremendous anxiety and/or anguish. Living your personal “truth” is wrapped up with your desires and you believe that no one else in your life can ever know what you are going through. Balance is not achievable because it is focused only toward the one individual.

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3. Creation: This is the Devine nature of being. It has no ego and cannot be forced into anything except it’s authentic self. I can experience this authenticity when I paint a picture or design and sew a wedding dress.

Most religions exist because they attempt to piece together an experience to help the human translate what or who the Creator is. In this “piecing together experience” a doctrine is formed in order to allow the ego a way to transform into its authenticity and reach a spiritual plain. The “Somebody has a plan for you” becomes “God has a plan for you” in which God is understood as the Devine or the Creator. In the United States the government has no influence on a religion except where secular laws may be concerned, and a religion has no influence on the government except for how an individual applies a faith based or goodwill approach to government policy and law. Balance is achieved because our Constitution’s Framers were mindful of this necessary inclination toward the Devine.

The Shrew Blog tries to maintain a perspective of balance as it considers the finer implications of social, cultural and theological influences in the U.S. Balance cannot exist without considering the polar opposite acceptance of the Male Principle (Order) since The Shrew admittedly understands more precisely the Female Principle (Chaos). It is my belief that the “Resistance Movement” is based on the Male Principle only because it chooses to use the State as a tyrannical keeper of order (in other words Socialism). The feminist “mask” is pushing for this order too because at its foundation is their equality with men which is far from being a balanced approach. To further complicate matters, the “Resistance Movement” has played on fears of racism, sexism and bias which are connected to the ego of individuals…Just witness how expertly maneuvered the resistance equation is: Complain, impose, blame => Socialist dominance by the few. And what is being resisted? Constitutional Liberty for the whole.

Now more than ever we need the Female Principle identified and honored for what it is, a balancing affect on the “Resistance Movement”.

Next up: Why the local economy matters…

The Shrew View: “Lady Bird”

Always look at today for tomorrow’s inspiration.

Bridal season is underway!!  This is the time of year when I experience the heaviest load of work.  April, May and June brides and their entourage need their first fittings as well as those young ladies going to Prom, communication with July through October brides is happening nearly every day and my busy hands need to keep up with the details of nip/tuck.  My mind swells with lace, beads, bustles and bows!  Ever since Barbie married Ken I have delighted in the details of THE DRESS and how these details help to make the young woman feel her best on her special occasion.  I am blessed that my passion has lead to my own business, but practical aspects of my past held back this creativity (just as it happens for many folks).  Did my engineering degree and years spent working in R&D at various companies hold back my bliss?  I’d like to think that those years were actually the foundation for a more enlightened career choice…Always look at today for tomorrow’s inspiration 🙂

Even though my working life is somewhat full these days I must take enjoyment in other pastimes.  One thing that I enjoy doing is watching movies.  I recently had the opportunity to see “Lady Bird”.  This coming-of-age film received critical acclaim for its strong acting and fresh look at the gulf between childhood and adulthood.  Set in the year 2002, it wittingly balances stereotypes against our U.S. Culture’s timeless truths.

This film portrays the two strong female characters of a daughter and her mother.  Christine is the 17 year old daughter of a middle class couple who are temporarily struggling to make ends meet.  They have a modest home in Sacramento, CA.  Christine’s mother has her attend the private Catholic School because apparently the public school has proved to be much too violent.  It is obvious that Christine’s mother controls the household and all those who live in it (this includes Christine’s college educated brother and his live-in girlfriend).  You get the sense that the mother’s control issues are tempered with an inspired love that has had an unmistakable influence from a  childhood which was rife with alcohol abuse by her own mother.  Christine’s father is the tempering force that keeps everyone together.  He might struggle with depression from losing his job and remaining unemployable, but he seems to understand well that trying to control what happens around him is a losing battle…It is better to use some insight and guide the daily pitfalls toward positive meaning.

In her childish way Christine uses her personal strengths of perseverance, humor and curiosity to carve out her niche in society.  Her “power name” is Lady Bird.  She uses this name to help be identified as a strong though quirky candidate for each class presidential election and to help her compensate for her “lower” middle class position in life.  This name along with her curiosity and perseverance seem to give her just the right amount of boost she needs to cleverly insert herself into the higher social networks.

I found that Christine’s ability to explore her sexuality is an incomplete and naive approach.  She is quite the fiendish child in some scenes, however we don’t get to understand how she has figured out the adult nuances of protected sex in other scenes.  Catholicism after all is known for its strict adherence to abstinence, so where did she learn about these practical measures?  Should we assume that magazines, media and her peers are her guides?  Her mother definely doesn’t appear to be the imparter of such important information, but I could be wrong.

By the end of the movie as she leaves home and enters college she seems to have gained the adult perspective so needed for her to negotiate life’s intracacies.  This perspective is partially shaped from her Catholic faith.  Whether by choice or by accident, the familiarity of a home away from home is hers to accept or reject.  She embraces these benefits because, in essence, these religious guiding principles are central to the self-love that she needs in an all too lonely world.

True to form, I think this film does represent middle class female adolescent conflicts very well.  Has much changed in 15 years?  It’s been almost 40 years since I’ve been 17…pexels-photo-556663.jpeg…It’s still pretty timeless!