My reply to Wynton Marsalis’ public statement from June 6, 2020.
This is my open letter to Wynton Marsalis. His commitment and clarity warrant respect. He has done his part through this articulate observation and through his creativity, art and music. And, as a writer, this is my part, my responsibility is to reply sincerely and constructively and to offer the most practical solutions and possibilities.
Wynton Marsalis 6/6/20 and My Response
Thank you. The sincerity and wisdom of your writing inspires me to support you with an encouraging and respectful reply and by describing my best vision of our way out. My mission as a writer and as a counselor is to contribute to our world’s need for social change.
PERPETRATORS: About two decades after grad school, my favorite professor told me that she had kept one of my papers. She said it spoke about me as a person. It was “Diagnosis and Treatment of Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse.” Then, as now, my quest is for the cause. My assumption is that, until we define the cause of harm and correct it, we will continue to raise perpetrators of abuse, harm and prejudice.
WHAT’S MISSING? I am an elder member of a community of puzzlers, researchers and teachers which has been working to define what’s missing and what to do to implement the solutions to the horrors you describe. We have been pretty invisible, except (from time-to-time) from each other. We are often ranked low, peripheral, soft, basket-weaving, fluff, non-essential, etc. We are the population of those devoted to the Humanities, Psychology, Spirituality, Arts, Culture, Sociology, Mind/Body and Family…to people. Our passions have been sidelined and denigrated and tossed out by many of our schools, cultures and countries. But, Ubiquity University has gathered our international tribe of thousands for weekly two-hour conversations, presentations and invitations from leaders and organizations worldwide to connect and plan together for action. There are currently 83 days of information with panels and topics focusing on the many branches of “Humanity Rising.”
WISDOM AND METHODS: But, today, our voices can be heard and the internet is making our wisdom and methods internationally available. As in any community, the approaches are varied. I am convinced that we do know now. We know clearly the causes and the solutions. Now, with years of treating victims, doing our best to stop and heal suffering delivered in our own homes by our own families, we have shown more than enough proof for many years. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk ended his book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” with a call to action.
MY MISSION ~ SOCIAL CHANGE: It is my reverent wish that my work…my mission…contributes to this need for social change.
- Most great instigators of social change have intimate personal knowledge of trauma. Oprah Winfrey comes to mind, as do Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Wiesel. Read the life history of any visionary, and you will find insights and passions that came from having dealt with devastation.
- The same is true of societies. Many of our most profound advances grew out of experiencing trauma: the abolition of slavery from the Civil War, Social Security in response to the Great Depression, and the GI Bill, which produced our once vast and prosperous middle class, from World War II. Trauma is now our most urgent public health issue, and we have the knowledge necessary to respond effectively. The choice is ours to act on what we know.
MY POSITION ~ THE CAUSE REVEALS THE SOLUTION
Here is the article Wynton Marsalis wrote. After each of his paragraphs (in quotes) my replies begin with “YES.”
WM: With the crescendo of public outcry and proliferation of opinions and justifiable expressions of outrage by so many experts, officials and popular celebrities, I fear there’s little room or need for yet another person voicing a commonly held opinion. I also believe that the everyday tragedies that are commonplace and routine to our everyday way of living, should be addressed when they happen, not when so much pressure has built up in the system that it must be let out. It’s also much more difficult to draw a crowd every day for the sanctioned and accepted forms of corruption and disrespect of Black Americans that are shouted from countless recordings and videos and even more powerfully whispered in the form of discriminatory laws TV, practices and procedures that result in unfair housing and employment practices, and more tragically, lengthy unjust prison sentences.
YES. FEAR VS CARING: Forms of Fear. Yes, fear is a powerful motivator. But, our true motivator is caring. Parents, if they are present, can reassure and mentor their children when trouble happens. And, of course, the original prejudice is toward the world of the female and feelings. The heart is the original and universal source of caring. So, we are naturally relentless for demanding good. I am convinced that we have found the keys to the way out and, it may require some time, but we are hungry for clear directions which will protect and empower our little ones. As Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person for the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” We are convinced that our way out is articulated by many and one is Riane Eisler’s Four Cornerstones from her book, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains Lives and Future: 1. Make children important, 2. Make the genders equal, 3. Build our economics on caring and 4. Create new vocabulary and stories which teach these three things. Parenting or childcare is paramount. It’s time to move past the material world which was necessary to pioneers and survivors. And, as stubborn two-year-olds need from us, as Developmental Psychologist, Gordon Neufeld says, when have an encounter with futility we need to turn in a new direction. Two-year-olds can’t do that without guidance from an adult. His chief book, “Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers,” is available in 14 languages. “This book written by Dr. Gordon Neufeld is about the pivotal importance of children’s relationships to those responsible for them and the devastating impact in today’s society of competing attachments with peers. However it is much more than a book on peer orientation: it is about parenting with relationship in mind. This book restores parents to their natural intuition, confronting such relationship-devastating devices as time-outs and using what children care about against them.” neufeldinstitute.com
Without caring people to raise us, we can never get those growing years back and, if there was significant abuse it was traumatizing. That’s when we end up coping with the wounds and, instead of treatment for abuse, we are imprisoned. At last, one of my heroes, Dr. Gabor Mate has been heard. His book, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,” is now in 14 languages. …”Gabor Mate locates the source of addictions in the trauma of an emotionally empty childhood, making it a relational rather than a medical problem.”
WM: Much of this “cacophony of crazy” is executed officiously and with a warm and innocuous smile. Therefore, Americans of all hues pass quickly from anger to acceptance, and as months turn to years, our daily silence and inaction is willfully misread as endorsement and back we go to go the illusion that “we’re past this”, because the daily grind is more important than what we find if we just open our eyes and keep them open.
YES. A BRICK WALL: Acceptance is often the best choice when we encounter dead ends, failure, or hopelessness. When its Lincoln’s same objections and, when even a beloved president couldn’t be successful against such viciousness, we relent and turn to what we CAN do. Even the solutions which we now know will work have been invisible or unattractive to most. When we do open our eyes, our personal responsibility is generally unclear. Like Don Quixote, we are exhausted with our ineffective tilting at imaginary things which has been pretty useless and further victimizing. We get tired of the shouting, marching and demonstrating when we don’t see results. Yes, we can object but what is missing which will show us practical and positive change?
WM: This particular tragedy, however common it’s become across these last decades, is perfectly symbolic of this specific time and place. And this global pandemic has given it a clear and more pungent stage. This murder is so distinctive because of the large size and gentle nature of the man who was murdered, because of the smug, patient and determined demeanor of his killer and of the other peace officers protecting the crime in full public view, and because our nation is always attempting to escape its original sin with the loud shouting of other serious, though less egregious, transgressions. This fully recorded public execution yet again demands our full attention and interest, IF we have the slightest remnant of belief in the morality, reason and intelligence required to realize, maintain and protect a libertarian democracy.
YES. TRAGEDY BORN OF IGNORANCE: Living in a successful democracy depends on an educated and healthy citizenry. When thinking is stunted by the average population’s uneducated minds which continue simplistic us/them opinions, the regular response is what has been inherited by old and primitive cultures. Reward and punishment AKA bribery and abuse are used on children and employees. Such out-dated defenses, that use power and control, are heartless, judgmental, ignorant and disrespectful. But, the old ways continue to be upheld – mostly by the children who are born sincerely obedient and loving towards their parents and what they model and teach. Those old traditions have colored all of recorded history based on instinct and survival rather than thoughtfulness and collaboration. Yes, we could see that it was rightfully so in the battles that they fought and in the war zones that they created. But, us-and-them is irrelevant to more evolved and neighborly nations. In some parts of the world, we advanced beyond that centuries ago. We try to use peacekeepers, ambassadors and facilitators and, even then, our embassies and diplomats continue to be endangered. Our families are damaged by such inhumane domination and rigidity.
WM: In each of the four decades of my adult life, I have addressed our myriad American social and character problems with an involved piece that always defends a belief in the progression towards freedom that my parents taught us was perhaps possible for all. Experientially, artistically, and spiritually, I’ve had a lifetime relationship – akin to obsession – with confronting this national calamity and conundrum.
YES. YOUR PARENTS: Your parents are exemplary. They were beautifully successful. Your family is an example of the way out. We can prove that character integrity must align head with heart to embody wisdom. But, with threats, we work to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Defensiveness automatically assumes an enemy and erects barriers for protection keeping us behind the divisive internal and external walls. Even our castles and cathedrals are built like fortresses. They reduce freedom and openness by closing off the unwelcome. Freedom is pinched off by injury, fear, threat, danger and the instinctual drive to survive. Survival has little intelligence and focuses on self. Fight, flight, fawn, fix, foul or collapse are defensive and are not driven by mind or heart. They are manipulative…in a sense dishonest. When encountering a threat (real or imagined) integrity seems irrelevant to staying alive. Because your parents stayed strong and true, all of that protected their children from our crumbling culture where prejudice is just one of the evils.
WM: As these decades have passed and our nation has retreated from the promises of the Civil Rights Movement that my generation grew up believing would substantially improve economic and social opportunities for those who had been denied by our ‘traditions’, I have spoken, written, played and composed about the toll that American racial injustice has taken on all of us—our possibilities, our presence and our promise. Those words, notes and more seem to have been wasted on gigs, recordings, in classrooms, in prisons, in parks, on tv shows, in print, on radio and from almost any podium from the deep hood to palatial penthouse in cities, towns and suburbs in every state and region of our country day and night and sometimes deep into the night for over 40 relentless years.
YES. HOW PEOPLE GROW: Of course your brilliant art isn’t enough. We have figured out what it takes to ensure successful change and growth. Human change is glacial — it takes time and motivating proof. When the cause is invisible, possible solutions are, also, unavailable. We want convincing evidence. There are myriad injustices. But, the use of justice is only the male assumption of solution. Justice is still based on reward and punishment. As, Daniel Pink illustrated in his book, “Drive,” on motivation through autonomy, mastery and meaning, those manipulative…and illegal… forms of power and control are, for the most part, ineffective. Justice is irrelevant in a world where we are motivated and self-motivated by caring. So many struggle to stay true to their religious beliefs. But, inherent in those typical teachings are criticism, rules, struggle, enemies, land, possession and competition. The filters reveal male bias. The components of creativity, generosity, charity, forgiveness, humility and beauty get lost under the old ways of judging, ranking, shaming and fighting. For centuries the religious and political leaders have pointed us towards being grown by manipulation rather than by autonomy and inspiration.
YES. WISE INNOCENCE: You are fathering a child who has not yet encountered the abuse, harm and horrors of evil which are inflicted by traumatized and damaged souls. Her innocence is evidence of her parents’ wisdom and guidance. At 11, it’s not time to scare her but we want her to be safe. So, she needs to know about the evils men can do when they are stunted and damaged by trauma.
WM: Just yesterday, I was walking with my 11-year-old daughter and she asked me, “Did you see the video of the man in Minneapolis?” “Yes” I said. I always talk to her about history and slavery and all kinds of stuff that she is not interested in – and probably overdo it for that reason. She asked, “Why did the man just kneel on him and kill him like that in front of everybody?“ Instead of answering I asked her a question back, ”If I went out of my way to squash something that was harmless to me, and stomped on it repeatedly and deliberately to make sure I had killed every drop of life in it, and then looked defiantly at you, as if triumphant. Why would I do that?” She said, “You hate bugs.” I laughed and said, “Let’s say it’s not necessarily a bug, just whatever I go out of my way to utterly destroy. Why would I?” She said, “Because you can.” “Yes,” and I further asked, “Why else?”
YES. MENTAL ILLNESS: This ‘fun’ offers pathological people intensity, the thrill of the hunt that kills, bagging the buck for antlers, humiliation which defiles, sadism which inflicts pain and extreme sports which dance with death. This is the heritage of the Roman gladiators, superheroes, soldiers, competitive games and the degree of excitement necessary to affect a stunted brain. Workaholic cultures say the work is never done. And, when it’s done we are so exhausted that we collapse with a mind-altering coping mechanism. Often we “use” a sensory pleasure which creates distraction from reality. Creativity, shining eyes and fun with family doesn’t cut it with such depleted and uninspired people. Those who have been severely damaged spill out their hatred and masochistic intents on the gullible.
WM: “Because you want to”, and then I said “Yes, but can you think of another more basic reason?” She thought for a while and just couldn’t come up with it. I kept it going saying and aggravating her,” It’s one of the most important ones.” After a few minutes she rolled her eyes and said, “Just tell me.” I debated with myself about telling her this last reason since it’s almost always left out of the national discussions when these types of repeated crimes by our peace officers are committed, but I figured, it’s never too early to consider the obvious. So, I said, “Because he enjoyed it. For him, and for many others, that type of thing is fun. Like them good ole boys in Georgia chasing that brother through the neighborhood to defend themselves.” It’s no more complex than that. She said,” hmmmmm….” unconvinced. And I said, “this type of fun is much older even than America itself.” I considered how different her understanding is of these things, if only just because of time, place and experience.
YES. UNDERGROUND TRAUMA: People habituated to competition, war and domination can’t know the wonder of life without it…with family, partnership, co-creativity, flexibility equality and caring. Our dominator society continues to weave threads of judgement, righteousness and conflict through everything. When we grow up inside of that ethos, we don’t ‘peg’ how to reject it and to not buy-in even though we know it doesn’t work and that it isn’t right. Prejudice against being kind, humble and respectful are still defined as ways to be weak and victimized. The typical ‘manly’ way is still assumed to be the best. The experts with science, math, technology, law and justice are rated as top quality. The ‘people’ experts are seen as ‘less than.’ Men provide and protect; women nurture and teach. Even today, many believe that a woman’s brain is less intelligent. She is the carrier of the culture and the educator of the children. And, she is endangered all day and every day by prejudice. She is violated, raped, injured and trashed. How can she raise healthy children? And, then those children grow up to be prejudiced against the female. When we are wounded and traumatized, we are judged to be making ‘bad choices,’ perhaps a sinner, bad, inadequate, unacceptable. The idea of healing and growing are seen as, again, weak, lacking independence and competence. Yes, prejudice is everywhere. There is little insight that this all stems from prejudice against the female. Healthy women don’t tolerate prejudice, they provide generosity, welcome and connection.
YES. BOND WITH PARENTS: We learn from our parents. Especially in those first five years, we emulate. But, even those who devote themselves to a life of reverence find themselves in a system of beliefs which judge, which righteously judge those of another faith, another belief system. Even the Christians, who were taught by their master to be unprejudiced, are at war with each other in their own country. The admonitions to be Catholic or Protestant or a certain type of Protestant illustrate thousands of years of judgement, murder, war and refusal to be open-minded and kind. And, even the mere indication of indigenous or additional faiths elicits rages against the ‘pagan’ evils of those who don’t say it our way. Minorities aren’t tolerated or respected because they threaten the concrete minds by requiring flexibility, discovery and creativity.
WM: During my childhood, raw racism and pure absolute ignorance was just a fact, but so was enlightened protest and determined resistance. It was the times, the 60’s going into the 70’s. With our Afros and the consciousness music of James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, younger brothers were determined not to put up with any bullshit at all, unlike our ancestors, who we felt had willfully endured and accepted disrespect. And it was so easy to believe they were acquiescent in their own degradation because we didn’t know anything about the deep deep sorrow and pains of their lives, because they bore it all in silence and disquieting shame. Now, those old folks are long gone, and each passing day reveals the naïveté of our underestimation of the power and stubbornness of our opponent. Now, our ancestors loom much larger albeit as shadowy premonitions in the background of a blinding mirror that is exposing us all, black and white.
YES. IT’S A SALAD, SILLY: Many years ago, when I was one of the trainers teaching diversity we replaced the out-dated metaphor of a’melting pot’ with the respect for each person maintaining their autonomy and value like the elements in a salad. All of this us’ing-and-them’ing smells of power and control rather than community, creativity and caring. What about our families? Our children? Our treasuring of our mate? We now have the research and proofs about the goodness which we create by turning away from domination and joining in partnership…turning away from uniqueness and toward the kaleidoscope of individual styles. Partnership with our personal lives and partnership in our countries doesn’t mean we need to meld into sameness. Groups across our nation began discussions about the new views, language and organizations we need to establish equality. I was in one of those groups in Dallas based on the study guide, “The Partnership Way.” Some of us have continued that work despite the magnitude of the persisting closed-minded individual and institutional education.
WM: Racist mythology, social inequality, and economic exploitation used propaganda and physical lines of demarcation to create and enforce a state of mind. It was called segregation. Because my parents grew to adulthood in it and I was raised in it, I unknowingly believed in it, and even referred to myself as a minority. The late Albert Murray, my mentor and intellectual grandfather in Harlem, New York, dissuaded me from the segregated mindset with a penetrating question, “How are you going to accept being a minority in your own country? Is an Italian a minority in Italy?”
YES. GROWING UP: We assume that working towards this form of equality will be slow. Recorded history gives scant examples of any society without possessiveness and wielding money as a way to control people and resources. Again the old fashioned assumption is based on deprivation, greed, survival and selfishness. But, we do have pockets of people planning the strategies. And, of course they are not in politics or in the stock market. They are economists, educators, sociologists and historians. My favorite go-to is Riane Eisler’s 2007 book, “The Real Wealth of Nations Creating a Caring Economics.” There are those of us who have thought it through intelligently based on what is good for everyone. Healthy families watch over each other and their neighbors. A well-organized nation provides the dignity of education, beauty and healthcare to all of its citizens.
WM: Well, let’s see. That’s a question our country has to ask itself. If we are plural so be it. But we aren’t. We are segregated in so many more ways than race and if we are to be integrated, a nasty question remains: whose genes will recede and whose will be dominant? Who is them and who is us? Mr. Murray once told me, “Racial conflict in America has always been black and white versus white.” We see that in the current riots that have sprung up around the country. There are all kinds of folks out there and always have been. Any cursory viewing of protests in the 60’s reveals Americans of all hues.
YES. SMOKE AND MIRRORS: Thank you for seeing that it is a game. It is just a game. When we step away from the elementary rules, we can see reality. We already know that we started to feel bad about yourselves when our self esteem started to be squashed as a toddler through loss of attachment to our mother and father. But, feeling bad was the object. Feeling inadequate so that our inner critic motivates us for two directions: 1. Escape and pursuit of freedom through success (which can never be enough for our inner critic) or 2. for tractability as a pleaser or doormat to be a victimized servant. When Mom is required to go to work to pay the bills, because money is more important that the developing brain of a baby, there are costs which can never be corrected. The gigantic study of ACE’s ~ Adverse Childhood Experiences is not a game ~ it proves the lifelong injury, incompetence and coping displayed by those who experienced inadequate parenting, childhood deprivation or child abuse. When the lack became violating and traumatizing, that brain is affected for life to survive with a fear fantasy which is sometimes so severe that it never finds peace and is trapped in terror, rage and hatred. Our internationally most respected expert on trauma, Dr. Bessel van de Kolk said, “As the ACE study has shown, child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and suicide.” It doesn’t matter what skin color we have, child abuse is the chief cause of our problems.
WM: But when all is said and done, and all the videos and photos become just a part of a protester’s personal narrative kit to be pulled out for kids and grandkids as a testament of their youth. When the enormous collective wealth of America passes from one generation to the next, who of our white brothers and sisters now so chagrined will be out in the streets then? Playing loud defiant music in your bedroom means one thing at 15, but it’s very different when it’s your house. Who will be out there making sure that their darker-hued brother and sister in the struggle has enough opportunity to feed their family, and a good enough education to join the national debate to articulate an informed position in their fight for their rights and responsibilities and the financial security to enjoy older age with the comforts of health, home, and happiness?
If the 80’s Reagan revolution is any indication, don’t hold your breath for the “post racial America” that we were supposed to have achieved without having corrected or even acknowledged any of the real problems
YES. TIME FOR REVOLUTION: Our people are living in an America which was once the envied and emulated nation of freedom, happiness and success. Time now tells that it would only grow so far without correcting the necessity for human happiness beyond the material. Yes, our technology is helpful but, in the owner’s manuals there is no mention of healthy use of such equipment. No developmental nor cultural psychologist was consulted. We were given forms of entertainment and connection which have become toxic talk and toys. And, most couldn’t have predicted that alarming result. Some of us did. But, even idealistic parents don’t read one book or consult one of the world’s experts in developmental psychology or a local counselor. No, it’s that rugged individualism which is blind to our universal human purpose to love end be loved. No, that’s for wimps and women. After all, “I do what my Dad did and I turned out just fine.” Our technology as been wonderfully used by those researching the Humanities for understanding how to protect and to expand the brain centers as our little ones grow. Yes, the average person is living at that dead end of refusal to want to learn because of their assumption that it would indicate they are inadequate. But, some of us turned in a healthier direction long ago.
WM: The whole construct of blackness and whiteness as identity is fake anyway. It is a labyrinth of bullshit designed to keep you lost and running around and around in search of a solution that can only be found outside of the game itself. Our form of Democracy affords us the opportunity to mine a collective intelligence, a collective creativity, and a collective human heritage. But the game keeps us focused on beating people we should be helping. And the more helpless the target, the more vicious the beating. Like I was trying to explain to my daughter, something just feels good about abusing another person when you feel bad about yourself.
YES. FEAR OF FAILURE: The same wrong answer feels humiliating when we point out failure instead of making it fun to find what’s missing. And, as we see in most every town, it will always turn out wrong until there is a belief that human souls are equally valuable no matter the age, gender or color. Yes, it’s who we become as a result of what we experienced as our brain was learning: when our mother was disrespected, when our self-esteem was squashed, when our sweetness was turned against us. Learning, being curious, wanting more means that life is good…It’s not only okay not to be perfect but perfection is boring and irrelevant. It’s not only okay not to know it all but there’s an infinite fount of wonders for us to learn about for our entire lifespan. And, it’s not only okay to be taught but the love of learning is everlastingly fun. And, beyond that, we want the love of our teachers and the excitement of building big projects together with friends and mentors. If our sense of esteem is based on avoidance of feeling unacceptable or valuable, then we are left with the hollow and transient enjoyment of having to win, to be competitive, to be the best. And, if we can’t attain first place then we won’t participate at all. We logically avoid trying anything which could make us look or feel incompetent or foolish because we know the devastation of being humiliated. We would need to be free to be able to apologize, to ask for help, to admit we don’t know it all and are less than perfect. Most people with this knee-jerk avoidance of needing to learn will avoid their fear of inadequacy and disapproval by defense and, even, telling lies. They were the subject of bruising criticism and, oftentimes, beatings. There is no failure. Duh. We are here to make mistakes and that guides us in the direction of learning something more about what was missing.
WM: We can’t be feeling that good about our nation right now. Separated by wealth disparity, segregated in thought and action, poorly led on the left and on the right, confused in values of institutions and symbols of excellence, lacking in all integrity from the highest to the lowest levels of government, undisciplined in exercising the responsibilities of citizenship, disengaged and overfed on meaningless trivia and games, at each other’s throats all the time for every issue. We seem to be at a dead end.
YES. THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF PREJUDICE: These pervasive systems of prejudice began thousands of years ago, with making half of our people less than, and that prejudice continues everywhere today. When women and the natural work of women to nurture, nest and host are given equal value as the male provider/protector, children will be able to grow up well-developed without significant psychological injury. With basic intelligent parenting, our people are, as Nature mirrors on all continents, connected, respectful, generous, neighborly and compassionate. When our families and cities function naturally, we have no need for stringent and inflexible laws and courts and politics and fighting. The elders help foster discussions to solve disagreements. The goal is not power over nor revenge. The goal is collaboration, peace and productivity. We are forgiving, charitable and solution -oriented rather than punishment-oriented. War would be considered a waste of internal and external resources. War would be unconscionable. War would be evidence of primitive and stunted minds. We understand that war isn’t an invitation to fight. But, war will continue until enough of us agree that we already have the beginnings of an ideology which can be expanded into harmony.
WM: It’s funny to think this whole experiment in democracy could end with a populace that is so polarized and self-absorbed that it can’t imagine atoning for the slavery and subjugation of other human beings and sharing enormous wealth (financial and other) with each other. But it wouldn’t be that surprising, because no matter how many times we find ourselves with the opportunity to right tremendous wrongs, we just keep coming up with the same wrong answer. It’s like having the solution to a math problem, not knowing the underlying mechanics to actually solve it, and lacking the patience and humility to ask for help-to learn. It’s the damndest thing to just keep doing the same wrong thing over and over again, and more forcefully wrong each time……or maybe, that wrong answer we keep coming up with—maybe it’s just who we actually are.
Life is not a book or a movie. It is itself much too complicated and simple to be understood from any one person’s perspective. Its truths come to their own conclusions that live as facts though lies may stand as temporary history. But George Floyd lying in the cold cold ground at this moment is a fact, as was the fact of Eric Garner and all of the other Americans who didn’t deserve to be killed by their peace officers. The murders of both men are eerily similar. And they, taken together though almost six years apart, are not even a referendum on the offending officers, but a view into how we can’t get past the illegality and illegitimacy of our courts and our politics that snatched back the North’s victory from the South in the Civil War. This successful legal and political wrangling to recast slavery as peonage and to maintain an underclass is still going on. Its victories, in effect, spit on the graves of 700,000 Americans lost on both sides in that conflict. And we refight our Civil War every day. It was interesting hearing Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Mayor of Atlanta and Killer Mike both reference the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and this moment in one breath. They put this present moment in its proper context – a continuation of the struggle for human rights and civil liberties against the legacy of slavery and unapologetic racism.
These were Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery:
I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republic an example of its just influence in the world, enables the enemies of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites, causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.
WM: Notice the list of corruptions that Lincoln laid out 160 years ago – there is no better definition of our current position. He must have come up out of the grave to tell us yet again. Sad as it is to say, contemporary Americans just may not be up to the challenge of democracy. A lot of countries in the world seem to be openly retreating from it. But that open retreat will be different here, for our credo of equality, freedom and the dignity of persons requires us to construct elaborate ways of eliminating stubborn problems that we seem to not have the will, wherewithal, and humanity to solve.
YES. FREEDOM AND FAIRNESS: Our pioneering country required rugged individualism. We needed to be extraordinarily independent and responsible for practical survival. However, once organized, the nation is for the people not for isolation. Communities are the goal not rejecting connection. We became habituated to putting the super hero above and seeing the family man as weak. We kept the woman at home without partnership as a wife. When she wanted respect, she had to become a money-funnel like a man. When our families are sacred, there is no need to fight for civil liberties. Our men and women would be united in caring for home, community and country. They would be devoted to all of education for all of their children and growing good citizens which intelligently and wisely nurture fairness and democracy beyond justice and freedom.
WM: And it’s the slow, slow choke out of everything black: that fake construct of blackness that was invented in America for the express purpose of elevating an equally fake whiteness; that blackness that has been parodied and mocked and shamed, been raped and robbed and lynched, cheated and fooled and straight up hustled into slapping itself under the banner of entertainment, still seeking the attention and resources of its masters by hating and disrespecting and killing itself; that omnipresent blackness to be named and renamed again and yet again for the purposes of denying its very name and birthright, that blackness that shows up in everything from a bowl of grits and a Southern twang to a whining rock guitar and a piece of fried chicken, to The Constitution itself. Yeah, choking all the blackness out is going to be hard. Because it shows up as state’s rights versus federal authority, as the root of the electoral college and as gerrymandered districts and the modern repression of some people’s right to vote. That inescapable blackness is always a primary subject in the discussions that elect Presidents where it shows up as immigrants, criminals, and disavowed preachers. It’s clearly seen every day and night in our richest cities staggering down the streets in a tattered stupor with a sign saying, “do you see me?” and bearing the dates 1835, 1789, 1855 and all of those slavery years. And all those ghosts remind you that we rolled back Reconstruction, we denied the Afro-American heroism of WWI with the segregation of WWII, that we denied our citizens access to equal funding and equal housing and equal education and equal health care and equal opportunities and that we rolled back the gains of the Civil Rights movement under on the very watch of many of us that are alive to read this post. And that at each broken promise, said with a smile, “fare thee well brother, fare the well”.
YES. HERE’S THE ROOT: We have lost “the will, wherewithal and humanity” necessary to solve today’s problems because we aren’t clear about the root of the root of those problems. If we continue to use the context of today, we will continue to be discouraged and encounter the typical failures. Agreed, our “credo of equality, freedom and the dignity of persons requires us to construct elaborate ways of eliminating stubborn problems.” And, some of us have worked diligently to find those ways. We have them. But, most haven’t yet been convinced about the work which it necessitates. We can study 25 types of human intelligence. The public has acknowledged one beyond IQ, emotional intelligence because the emotional damage inflicted by the usual left-brained demands and manipulations makes messes in our homes and workplaces. I know that one of my jobs is to be a saleswoman. I need to be able to provide the proof which is convincing. And, with my clients, I’m pretty good at it because my colleagues and I have the results of the studies and the brain scans to prove that it all starts with brain development before the age of ten. That means not having children until you can provide them a home and full-time care. A home starts with a marriage – a couple where they are best friends and lovers. Then with knowledge of early childhood education starting even before birth. Yes, it’s available to everyone online now. But, that means someone is willing to learn and to treasure the world of what women want and need to do as mothers.
WM: That slow choking of all the blackness out of the American DNA will prove to be impossible because we are written into the original Constitution – albeit it as 3/5ths of a person. Black folks’ struggle, more than any other, has advanced the integrity of that document down through these bloody centuries. The challenge that faces our country now is what it has always been: Can we reckon with the idea that the opposite of injustice is not justice, it is corrective assistance. The question that continues to plague us across centuries, decades, years, months, days, hours, minutes and even seconds: Do we have the will and the intention to get that 3/5ths up above 5/5ths and create a productive society the likes of which has never been seen?
YES. FAKING IT DOESN’T WORK: Although most tout progress and prosperity, our countries have become expert at excuses, dehumanization and prejudice. Most nations continue to put defense first. We do know about nuclear dangers. Now, we know a bit about germ warfare. But, we use the same old first responder approach which masks that we might prevent problems in the first place. Now, we are hamstrung by the magnitude of our carelessnesses. Our planet is losing life. Our people are killing themselves with poisonous food. Our women and girls are used as slaves for sex because so many have been killed. Our military organizations know how to train a soldier to dissociate respect for certain others to the degree of suicide that’s been made sacred. There are those who kill with no compassion nor remorse. They can conceptualize some things or people as non-entities, trash, enemies or insects with no qualms about delivering suffering, torture, murder, abuse, trauma and horrors. We have learned to twist people into delivering evil with no accountability. When that is intended and taught and those soldiers come back to our nation, their narcissism is scattered into our States and our police forces.
WM: One thing I know for sure, that’s not ever going to happen with your foot on a black neck, and I’m not talking about the most current, obviously guilty police officer. This is about all of us rejecting the injustices of our collective past with consistent and relentless individual action that goes far beyond giving money.
YES. PERSISTENT PLAGUE: Corrective Assistance is the utter truth. So many of our agencies, institutions and groups are organized for defense against these tragically detrimental views. This worldwide plague is bigger than the vicious treatment of our black citizens. They are our canaries being killed in the mineshaft. It’s time to leave the deep hole of selective attention. We are plagued by a context of domination by the male assumption of coercion rather than the human context of respect, caring and creativity. With the latter, you are right, justice is just that old ignorant ‘eye-for-an-eye.’ We are far beyond that blunted philosophy of justice. And, the dedication to corrective assistance is appearing in millions of souls. Next, what do we do and how do we make it happen efficiently? Well, there are quite a few of us who are raising our hands and saying, can I speak? can I be heard? I know the answer!
WM: This has been my response to injustice in our country and in the world across the last forty years: Black Codes (1984); Blood on the Fields (1997); All Rise (1999); From the Plantation to The Penitentiary (2006); and The Ever Fonky Low Down (2019)
YES. INDIVIDUAL ACTION: Many of us have made much progress beyond those old goals of getting access to the common commerce of sex and money. And, my heroes and heroines have already begun corrective assistance. One example here in Texas is Dr. Bruce Perry in Houston with his influence across our nation. The team of people who have learned from his institute are going into the homes of struggling moms to bring them educational toys and resources to make sure that their babies grow up happy, healthy and smart. Each of us has our part. Each of us has talents and abilities like you, Wynton. You are already doing your part with your music and, even more with this letter…bravissimo!
YES, YES, YES, Wynton. You are not alone. We are with you and we have your back. Writing this letter and creating more accessible materials to offer the reputable resources is my part. I am honored by and motivated to be relentlessly devoted to this cause.
THE CAUSE REVEALS THE SOLUTION: We do know how! I am one of our marriage counselors who is devoted to helping couples create good relationships and making sure that they know how to raise their children with love, playfulness and wisdom. Which means the solution is to stop the cause of prejudice ~ the devaluation of parenting. Each of us has a contribution to our kids. And, next is to make the resources easily available for those who want the best for their kids, everything they need…information, encouragement, education, mentoring, collaboration and community.
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EIGHT BRILLIANT RESOURCES: My website has links to the greatest resources and parenting websites for developing our kids and making the social changes our families and our planet need. I believe that is the crux of it all. Here are eight online links and introductory descriptions of today’s most reputable and inspiring resources (alphabetically). Your comments and emails are wonderful for me to receive: email@example.com
1. ALBERTA FAMILY WELLNESS PARTNERS WITH THE HARVARD CENTER ON THE DEVELOPING CHILD: The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) officially began in 2007, but its origins date back further. It was 2004 when the Palix Foundation (then called the Norlien Foundation) set its sights on an ambitious goal: to improve outcomes in health and wellbeing for children and families across Alberta, Canada.
To achieve this goal, the foundation understood that it must bridge the considerable gap between the latest scientific knowledge about brain development, mental health, and addiction, and what is actually done in policy and practice. The AFWI was created to perform this work and make these connections. As the initiative has become established, it has broadened its mandate and agenda.The Harvard Center on the Developing Child and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child release a major body of research about the connection between early life experiences and later health outcomes. The Palix Foundation commits funding to both organizations and makes their body of knowledge available in Alberta.
With the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, FrameWorks develops the “Core Story of Brain Development” a narrative (incorporated into the Brain Story by the AFWI) that serves as a tool for education and communication. The Core Story establishes a common language for discussing brain development and its link to mental health and addiction outcomes. This language can be used by researchers, policy makers, and service providers across sectors, as well as by the public. The Palix Foundation commissions FrameWorks to research public attitudes in Alberta and validate the salience of the brain story for Alberta audiences. The Foundation commits funding to the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) One World Child Centre, an early intervention education centre where health and development services are integrated.
2. Riane Eisler, JD, PhD ~ Nurturing Our Humanity offers a new perspective on our personal and social options in today’s world, showing how to structure our environments – from family and gender relations to politics and economics – to support our great capacities for consciousness, caring, and creativity. It examines where societies fall on the partnership-domination scale and how this impacts equity, sustainability, peace, and how our brains develop. Combining cutting-edge findings from biological and social science, it explains regressions to strongman rule and other dangerous trends; re-examines our past (including societies that for millennia oriented toward partnership), and outlines actions to move us in this life-sustaining-and enhancing direction.
by Riane Eisler and Douglas P. Fry
Cultural Transformation Theory
Cultural transformation theory (CTT) was introduced to a general readership in Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade (1987). It has since been the framework for many other works, including The Chalice and the Blade in Chinese History (1995) written by scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. CTT contradicts the conventional notion of a linear progression from “barbarism” to “civilization.” Based on archeological and mythical data, it proposes that the earliest cradles of civilization oriented more to the partnership system until, during a period of chaos, there was shift in a dominator direction. It further proposes that today it is more urgent than ever before that we reverse that shift – and work together to accelerate the move from domination to partnership.
The Center for Partnership Studies
CPS provides insight into a lost worldview and offers a roadmap to shift from domination systems to partnership systems.
Together we can create a partnership future that nurtures our humanity and saves our environment by rebuilding four cornerstones of society: Family & Childhood, Gender Socialization, Economics & Values, Stories We Tell/Words We Use.
3. Michael Gurian, LPC, PhD: The Gurian Institute provides advanced onsite and online training for educators and other professionals, as well as parents and community stakeholders. Dr. Gurian (author of 32 books in 23 languages for child development) and our trainers travel to school and conference locations, co-sponsor multi-day training institutes around the continental United States, and provide training, professional development, and consulting through virtual modalities. Our work is a powerful deep dive into the minds of boys and girls that has been proven successful in helping schools and communities throughout the world.
More than than 60,000 teachers have been trained in the Institute’s programs and interventions from thousands of schools across the world with some schools becoming “GI Model Schools.” We provide the critical training missing from most post-secondary education related to how boys and girls learn. We have also reached more than one million parents with practical training for raising and educating boys and girls in the digital age.
The evolving and significant needs of children of color constitute a primary focus for our programs: we have worked in some of the most disadvantaged schools in the country.
4. Gabor Mate, MD: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Winner of the 2009 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. From street-dwelling drug addicts to high-functioning workaholics, the continuum of addiction cuts a wide and painful swath through our culture.
Blending first-person accounts, riveting case studies, cutting-edge research and passionate argument, Dr. Mate takes a panoramic yet highly intimate look at this widespread and perplexing human ailment. Countering prevailing notions of addiction as either a genetic disease or an individual moral failure, Dr. Gabor Maté presents an eloquent case that addiction – all addiction – is in fact a case of human development gone askew.
…in reality there is only one addiction process, its core objective being the self-soothing of deep-seated fears and discomforts.
Turning to the neurobiological roots of addiction, Dr. Maté presents an astonishing array of scientific evidence showing conclusively that:
1. addictive tendencies arise in the parts of our brains governing some of our most basic and life-sustaining needs and functions: incentive and motivation, physical and emotional pain relief, the regulation of stress, and the capacity to feel and receive love;
2. these brain circuits develop, or don’t develop, largely under the influence of the nurturing environment in early life, and that therefore addiction represents a failure of these crucial systems to mature in the way nature intended; and
3. the human brain continues to develop new circuitry throughout the lifespan, including well into adulthood, giving new hope for people mired in addictive patterns.
5. Bruce Perry, MD ~ Child Trauma Academy https://www.childtrauma.org/history
The mission of the ChildTrauma Academy is to help improve the lives of traumatized and maltreated children — by improving the systems that educate, nurture, protect and enrich these children. We focus our efforts on education, program consultation, research and disseminating innovations in the field.
Essential to this process is the collaboration of all sectors of society. As such, we engage in a continuous process of identifying key partners, drawn from academia, the corporate world, private organizations and public sector systems. While each partnership has a distinct focus– identifying best practices in child protection, evaluating the latest research in child development, defining optimal ways to provide resources to parents or creating a novel therapeutic approach with traumatized children– all are engaged in the continuous process of testing, refining and distributing innovations that can improve children’s lives.
In 1998, in recognition of a shift in our focus to interdisciplinary educational activities (e.g., judges, caseworkers, psychologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, foster parents, educators, and early childhood specialists) we became the ChildTrauma Academy. With a number of innovative public and private partnerships and programs, our work – while still focused on maltreated children – became increasingly focused on non-medical models of care and cross-agency collaborations. Our work was beginning to impact policy on a state and national basis and our research projects became increasingly focused on clinical and systemic outcomes. By 2000 our primary partners came from the public-private partnerships we had created to implement our innovative programs, specifically the State of Texas via the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS) and a visionary corporation, Digital Consulting and Software Services (DCSS).
In 2001, The ChildTrauma Academy made a transition from a University-based, medical model working group to an independent, Community of Practice. Since that time, the CTA has continued its traditions of exploration, discovery, translation and dissemination to improve the lives of all children and families and, and thereby, our communities, and society.
6. SEARCH INSTITUTE: Developmental Assets.
Since 1990, Search Institute’s research-based Developmental Assets® framework has become one of the foundational frameworks in positive youth development and the most frequently cited and widely utilized in the world.
Search Institute has studied Developmental Assets in the lives of millions of young people across the United States and around the world. Research consistently shows that young people from all backgrounds do better when they have a strong foundation of these strengths in their lives.
Grounded in extensive research in youth development, resiliency, and prevention, it identifies:
- The supports, opportunities, and relationships young people need across all aspects of their lives (called “external assets”); and
- The personal skills, self-perceptions, and values they need (called “internal assets”) to make good choices, take responsibility for their own lives, and be independent and fulfilled.
When youth have more assets, they are:
- More likely to thrive now and in the future
- Less likely to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors
- More likely to be resilient in the face of challenges.
7. Bessel van der Kolk MD has spent his professional life studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences. He translates emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of effective treatments for traumatic stress and developmental trauma in children and adults.
8. Ubiquity University ~ Humanity Rising ~ Day 1 of 83 ~ May 22, 2020
Create a global commons to take counsel together enhance our strategic effectiveness and taking actions that really make a difference in the post pandemic world.
2 hours CET Daily (Central European Time). Broadcasting on 10 platforms. 10 to 20k people a day.
For the first time everyone everywhere is undergoing the same experience that has put the world into the same conversation. What are our positive visions? And, how can we transform them into action?
An historical gathering of great minds and hearts open the Humanity Rising Summit curated by Dr. Jim Garrison, President of Ubiquity University.
Learn more on: https://humanityrising.solutions/
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P.S. I did request Wynton Marsalis’ permission but I didn’t receive a replay. I can’t imagine the complexities and meaningful elements of his life. May he, his family and all of his loved ones be safe and loved.