Tag Archives: social constructs

The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance

Installment 1 of 21st Century Treatise.


Nature is always, tirelessly, constantly, and ceaselessly striving for balance. This is because it is comprised of endless pairs of opposites:  matter/anti- matter, light/dark, positive/negative, on/off, high/low, male/female, animus/anima, ad infinitum.

There are two kinds of balance at work in Nature. We might immediately think of the scale kind of balance model, as in the ‘scales of justice’, similar to a teeter totter. A scale balance is an either/or situation: the energy on one side significantly outweighs the energy of other side, and we get a lopsided situation; or the energy is of equal weight on either side and balances perfectly. There’s no middle ground with the scale model of balance.

There is also a bell curve model of balance, where two extremes or opposites exist but the majority of the energy falls in the middle, creating a ‘bell shape.’ This inherently makes for a flexible, more stable kind of balance. The energy can shift slightly to one side or the other, but the system will remain viable and functioning. Since the dynamics of the bell curve balance place most of the energy in the middle of the spectrum, we can therefore perceive balance of this kind as belonging in the ‘middle.’ (Interestingly, our language is teeming with references to this ‘middle’ balance kind of model. We use the term ‘middle ground’ to indicate compromise, balancing opposite opinions if you will, and moving forward.  The term ‘middle class’ defines the bulk of a nation’s economic, social, and labor energy. The wisdom of the Buddhist concept of ‘The Middle Way’ encourages moderation instead of the extremes of asceticism or self-indulgence.)

Examples of both models of balance abound in Nature.

On a scale model of balance, we know there had to be just the right amount of gravitational balance on our planet in order for Life to have developed; if it were slightly more or slightly less, Life could not have formed. Atoms possess the dichotomy of positively and negatively charged protons and electrons. This dichotomy allows them to bond together to form molecules as their charges attract to each other to achieve balance. The wind that tousles our hair is the direct result of a low pressure system and a high pressure system meeting and striving to achieve atmospheric balance.

An example of a bell curve model of balance can be seen in the age distribution of any animal group, there are a few youngsters and a few oldsters (technically termed outliers), but the majority of the group is middle age.  If the energy of the system shifts too far one way or the other, let’s say there becomes an abnormally high elderly population, then we begin to see problems within the working model. In Japan, for instance, the growing elderly population is affecting the development of robotics. Since there are fewer caretakers than elderly, life size robots are being used as a substitute. In the US, the retiring Baby Boomer generation is leaving an imbalance in job fields such as engineering and electrical specialists since there aren’t enough younger people trained in these areas. It is also straining our Social Security and public retirement systems, which means funds to keep roads maintained or hire more staff for forest upkeep or open another sheriff’s position are compromised. Our current resources, both monetary and labor, are scarce due to an imbalance in retired citizens.

Nature is obsessed with balancing the millions of dichotomies inherent in its makeup.  We humans are as subject to this peculiarity as every other part of the Universe, in fact it is ingrained within our very cellular structure. The membranes of our cells are careful ‘gatekeepers,’ allowing only a certain amount of fluid in or out to maintain homeostasis – balance. If Nature’s Law of Balance matters at microscopic levels, then it’s not much of a leap to understand that even the things we create: our institutions, our social frameworks, our cultural elements, and even our personal lives – are subject to the same Natural Law. When an imbalance occurs, whether from a germ that causes a fever in an individual, or greed that has caused a nation’s economy to become imbalanced, Nature will ensure that it is resolved to a balanced system. That’s Her thing.

It’s not always a smooth process to achieve balance. High/Low pressure systems can produce some nasty, damaging storms. Social balance is difficult to attain if one group refuses to give up control or privilege, as seen during the Civil Rights movement in the US. National economic imbalance places undue, extreme hardship on a country’s citizens who eventually push back against the policies that created the imbalance, the storming of the Bastille, for example. Here’s the glitch about achieving balance: the process is often violent. As severe weather storms can sometimes incur human casualties, often the restoration of social/political/economic balance comes at the cost of human life as well.

Balance is one of the most obvious Laws of Nature for us to observe, but we often miss the principle that our social constructs are as subject to this dynamic as any other. Take a moment today after reading a news article to reflect on the influence of this important Law. Does the article relate to some nuanced issue of balance? Consider the many situations the Law of Balance affects our lives. Don’t we strive to balance our work / home lives each day? Finally, understand that we can make good decisions based on the actions of this Law, both personally and nationally.

Thank you for reading. Next in this series: The Law of Balance applied to Economics.

Peace,

Frankie

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21st Century Treatise, Introduction

Nature will not let us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars. When we come out of the caucus, or the bank, or the abolition convention, or the temperance-meeting, or the transcendental club, into the fields and woods, she says to us, ‘so hot? my little Sir.’”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Spiritual Laws,” Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).

We humans have achieved some pretty amazing things since the agricultural revolution some twelve thousand years ago. Once we learned to manipulate Nature in various ways to suit our needs, we catapulted our species to soaring heights. Our clever inventions allow us to lead a very charmed life today compared to our ancestors.  We work in carefully controlled indoor climates, we live longer, and we are more aware than ever of our natural surroundings and how they function.  We understand the universe in ways incomprehensible to Copernicus and we understand our bodies in ways unfathomable to da Vinci. We don’t need to hunt any longer for our daily food and we don’t even need to have sex to pass on our genetics. We’ve been to the moon, we’ve put a tread mark on Mars, and some of us actually live in space. We homo sapiens have come a long, long way indeed.

While we bask in our achievements and enjoy their conveniences, there is cause for worry. As we’ve progressed from cave-dwellers to space station tenants, a great disconnect occurred between Mother Nature and her bi-pedal children because we are no longer as intimate with her workings as we once were. It seems a logical by-product of our advanced civilization: we live and work mainly indoors and get our food from cans and bottles and jars. Our experiences with Nature are confined to camping trips, gardening, and domesticated canines and felines. Limiting our interaction with Mother Nature, and becoming independent from her, means that we have lost touch with her. We fail to remember – and recognize – that we are as subject Nature’s Laws as the rest of the universe. In fact, even our social structures and the civilizations we build from them are governed by Nature’s Law’s – “So hot? my little Sir.”

Twenty-first Century Treatise explores the affect of Nature’s Laws on our social structures and civilizations in order to discover some very important lessons about ourselves and how our societies work. We learn how Nature’s Laws effect our personal lives. We learn that Nature’s Laws apply to our social frameworks and we can make pragmatic decisions using those Laws to develop policies that sustain healthy societies. We learn that it is possible to make conscious, long term, positive political decisions through the lens of Nature’s Laws. We learn that certain areas of each nation must be balanced in order to be healthy and growing; and that we can control those areas with effective legislation. We realize why it’s important to be diplomatic with our international neighbors.

It is my hope that this Treatise will provide some tools for positive decision making as we continue to grow and move forward together. We are an amazing creature, but we cannot forget that we are, and will always be, subject to Nature’s Laws, and so are the civilizations we build around us. “So hot, my little sir?”

Frankie

Read the next installment of 21st Century Treatise: The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance


Belonging to Facebook

There’s a subtle social struggle going on about whether to Facebook or not to Facebook. I talk about it with others and observe many comments in different forums online. I myself made the decision to step away from the platform some six-plus months ago.

My decision was based on two things: Facebook’s wont to mine our personal data and pass it on to marketers or god knows who, and the fact that I could not longer deal with seeing some of my old friends, or even family members defend things like child concentration camps, racism, or historically failed economic policies. I’d rather remember them as decent people than view them through the lens of an algorithmically curated timeline.

I don’t miss the frustration, but I do miss out on family pictures and social group connectivity, like posting local events or keeping in touch with local organizations. Yet when I conjure up the benefit/cost analysis in my mind, the result falls in favor of staying off the site.

As I gain further distance from the platform and engage or listen in on conversations about participating on it, I’ve formed an important insight: Facebook offers an incredibly strong sense of belonging, even if much of it is a false sense of belonging.

This is a worthy point to hone in on because the need to belong to a social group, to feel accepted and loved, isn’t just a flippant desire; it’s as hard wired a necessity as food and oxygen to our survival. Abraham Maslow backs this up with the scientific observation of his Hierarchy of Needs – if we don’t feel a sense of belonging and love, we can not achieve our full potential as humans.

By and large, the one reason people seem to be sticking with Facebook, in spite of its astonishing lack of respect towards private information, is that it plugs in to our human need to belong.

Every thumbs up and heart emoji translates to feeling like we belong, we’re connected, we’re appreciated. We live in a hectic, fast-paced, dog-eat-dog society that often makes us feel lonely in spite of the thousands of people physically milling around us. But if we  post a picture of our cat, vent about our ex’s new spouse, or share a news article, a select few friends will see and like or offer comments of support and BAM! we’re accepted, we belong, we feel important. 

It’s not a genuine sense of belonging, though, simply because Facebook relies upon algorithms to determine what we all see on our timelines. The end result is that we’re only sharing or posting stuff from a narrow, virtual, point of view and our sense of belonging is tied to the likes of those followers who are chosen to see our posts through an algorithmic determination. Neither the incoming or outgoing messages are organic, but the responses satisfy our need to feel important nonetheless.

On the broader scale, many are reluctant to leave Facebook since that’s where they can connect with local organizations. I often hear someone lament that, ‘It’s too bad there isn’t some other way we can connect and share with such-and-such demographic.’ This particular area is where I personally miss Facebook most acutely. This indicates that our need to belong is so strong, and satisfied so well by Facebook, that local organizations are dependent on the platform’s connective ability to market their events and causes.

To the point that Facebook does not filter its news outlets for veracity or authenticity, the reliance we have on Facebook to provide a sense of belonging becomes dangerous. Millions are subject to outright propaganda which transcends to polling results…check out where we’re at right now as a nation.

To Facebook or not to Facebook may not be as much of a choice as we think. Considering the impact it had in the last general election, I’m concerned we all ‘belong’ to Facebook in an indirect way no matter our conscious efforts.

The fact that its roots reach deep into our psyche and entwine themselves greedily should at least make us pause to think about the consequences the platform inflicts upon our society. And maybe, some smartypants kid will develop a better way to connect. Or, maybe, we could fulfill our sense of belonging with real life people instead of virtual avatars.

Peace,

Frankie

NB: I’ll admit that YouTube, Twitter, and other social media outlets offer a sense of belonging in the same way. I focus on Facebook due to its ubiquitous role in our lives comparatively.

For a similar analysis about the dynamic of belonging to a social group and its effects, here’s an article about how it works in religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dark Polish

Finally, today, I can break out the fun colors.  Pinks, purples, corals, blues, and even bright happy teals.   I’m talking about fingernail polish.   For the past year I’ve confined myself to wearing only dark, dark shades.

I’ve done so as a means to mourn the death of my mother.

The traditional ways of mourning the death of a loved one have fallen by the wayside in our shiny, busy world.  I mean, I thought about wearing black for an entire year, but that wouldn’t go over so well at work because of uniform requirements as well as the nature of the job.

There was a moment I wanted (needed?) to stay home for a couple of weeks and just be sad.  I was feeling like I couldn’t contain myself and would break down into a puddle of mush any minute – I didn’t want to do that in front of my colleagues. But, of course and like most, I’m only allowed a couple days off for a family death. So I mustered the strength and with  monumental effort shoved aside all that pain, plastered a smile on my face that I was certain looked as fake as it felt, and drove myself to the high school where I worked.

I had to get creative.   I had to find a way to mark the grieving period,  a way to show respect to my mother who lived a life full of challenges yet exhibited a toughness and fierce independence, she deserved that honor.  So in my own little corner of carved out existence, I thought about some gesture that could fill the job of acknowledging my grief, at least to myself, while still going about the business of being a citizen in a frantic society.  I realized that one action I could take was to wear only dark fingernail polish until the first anniversary of her death.  I made a vow to do so.

It was indeed a small gesture, but to my surprise it was exactly the right one.  It wasn’t easy.   This decision came at the beginning of summer when bright orange or yellow would typically decorate the end of my phalanges, shouting to the world that I was ‘with it,’ and ‘on trend’ with the fashionable hues.  Besides, I am generally a big fan of  vividly colored fingertips, they scream fun!  energetic!  this is me!  Yet, there I was with mud browns, black purples, and dark blues that captured zero light and received no compliments, living out the promise I made to the universe that I was setting aside this time for my mother.

Winter came and went, including a couple of firsts that were difficult to endure:  mom’s birthday and Christmas.  It wasn’t so hard to keep to dark shades then, the weather and lack of daylight was in keeping with my mournful aspect.  But I did find myself growing weary of the same five nail colors and when I usually break out an iridescent orange in the middle of January as an instinctive reaction to missing the sun and yearning for summer, I instead slathered on one more layer of ‘Gunmetal’, but with a smile of contentment: I found it somehow healing to deny myself this small thing out of deference to my beloved mom.

Spring arrived after enduring days and days and days and days of rain.  I ran out of two of my favorite dark colors and was rotating between just three others.   On the premise of “I only have a few more months left, I don’t want to waste the money.” I didn’t purchase anything new.  I found I was okay with the narrow selection anyway:  as the anniversary grew closer, the more meaningful the memorial became.

I was able to end that memorial yesterday, the first anniversary of my mother’s death.   There’s a sense of relief in it’s arrival – all the ‘firsts’ are out of the way, I’ve survived them.  Her birthday will come and go, but none as painful as that first one without her.  I can announce to myself that I am done mourning now.  I can throw out the three remaining dark shades of polish, and keep bright happy colors on my quick typing fingers the rest of my days, if I want.

Grieving the death of a loved one is work.  It requires time and attention and the ability to step aside from life for just a moment in order to process the pain and adjust to a new reality.  The society we’ve built in the US doesn’t allow us that.  In fact, it would deny the mourning process altogether if it could.  I recall the words of President Bush after 9/11 when he urged us to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible.   After the loss of a loved one, there is no normal as we know it.  We MUST have time to reflect and assimilate our new life.  Anyone who has denied themselves the room to grieve will attest that doing so only makes it worse to deal with later, or it solidifies into a mass of anger which no one can identify.  In our current society, we have to be strong and rely on our ingenuity and adaptability for ways to mourn the departed while still functioning at the hundred-ten percent capacity required by the system. Maybe its a once a week trip to the Synagogue that you normally wouldn’t take, maybe it’s a black tie that can be worn every Wednesday, maybe it’s a black curtain in the kitchen window, maybe it’s strictly dark nail polish for a year.  Whatever the solution, there still remains the ability to set aside holy time for a loved one, in some way, that enables the healing process.  I encourage you to find one that works for you if ever the unfortunate need arises.

Yours,

Frankie

 


Ideal

 

I admit I have a wont

For perfection in every thing

In my home, my work,

And even my society.

 

I hold the standard high, Proclaim

“This! This is what we can achieve.”

Here’s a goal on which to fix our gaze.”

 

High and lofty are Ideals.

In their absence we’ve

No kind of map or compass,

No social steering wheel.

 

The Ideal is not realistic,

I get it.

It’s never played out or lived.

 

Yet without It’s fire and passion,

Without It’s noble dream,

There is no vision and we’re left to wander,

“Where do I go from here?”

 


Moving On…

This…..

cayseenotes

I was finally able to take this down after having it taped to my kitchen/garage door for this past year and a half!  They are my notes from my newest release, “Caysee Rides, A Story of Freedom and Friendship,” a work spurred by my sister’s comment of “Do you know how hard it is to find teenage books with strong female characters?”

Caysee Rides is an adventurous tale of just such a young female who is stuck in an area where she has few choices as a fourteen year old orphan.  An escape to a more free area of the former US is planned at the same time Caysee meets an unlikely friend who has his own desire for liberty, and a history that makes Caysee’s orphan status seem mild.   The story blends modern technology, current political/social trends, and transgender issues for a read that is satisfying but challenges the reader to think as well.   Working on final editing and awaiting patiently for my talented book cover artist to render something spectacular.   I am officially aiming for an ebook release date of February 1st.    (By the way, I strongly suggest investing in a good cover artist. This is a place where an author can’t afford to pinch pennies.   I simply placed an ad on my local Craigslist, asking for samples of their work in a response.  This was a quick way to get a good feel for a person’s ability and talent, and I could weed through their work and find what suited my needs.  Follow your instincts!  And don’t make a final decision without a meeting or two.   In my very limited experience, I’ve found that giving them complete freedom over the book cover allows for more creativity than giving them some predisposed ideas.   Things can always be tweaked but I find its better to leave them with the ability to openly interpret the text and apply that to the cover without my influence.  I feel as if I get a more objective work that way.)

So what’s next?   Replacing the notes for “Caysee Rides” are notes for “Twenty First Century Treatise”  a nonfiction work that examines the impact of nature’s laws upon human civilization.  For example, nature always strives for balance and I demonstrate that our societal structures, bound as they are to nature’s laws, seek balance as well. Originally perceived as a book, I will be releasing this work one chapter at a time per month beginning in January….look for the Introduction as well as a first chapter with a provocative angle at economics in just a few weeks.   This work has been ‘percolating’ for some six years now, I look forward to sharing it; my hope, as always, is that I give us some talking points with which we can better our future.

Other things going on:  A winter solstice children’s book, aiming for release for next holiday season.   I’ve managed to get a great artist to team with me on this project, I know it will go places.  I also have another web site that gets regular posts from me, The Unseen Revolution.  It is solely dedicated to American economics and politics from the perspective of the Financialization Revolution.  I invite you to peruse the site here if those kinds of issues float yer boat, so to speak.   Annnnnd, finally, the beginnings of another full-fledged manuscript.   A teenage boy is forced to hide a crucial secret from his parents, discovery of it would tear his family apart, how does Brandon resolve the conflict?  Brandon’s Diary tackles modern social issues with an empathetic voice, stay tuned for its projected release date.

It’s quite satisfying ending the year at the same time as ending a project to which I’ve dedicated two years of my life.  It’s more satisfying to have fresh ideas to work with, new challenges to meet, and an entire year to meet them with.   Here’s to writing kids!  The road is long, the work is heartbreaking, the success is always worth it.    May 2016 greet you with new ideas and creative energy…

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

 

 


Time For an Adjustment: Social Constructs, the Duggars, and a Pew Study

I’ll not forget the struggle I had reading modern philosopher Michel Foucault in graduate school, but I am thankful for the enlightenment it brought to me, especially with regard to an element he termed “social constructs.”

Social constructs are the framework within which a culture decides to build and operate a society.  They emerge from a myriad of sources, (religious texts, scientific discoveries, philosophy – to name a few) and are informally adopted by a society’s members over the course of generations. For example, the US has a unique construct with the marriage of capitalism and christianity which emphasizes an individualistic doctrine.  The Chinese are uniting their elements of communism and an emerging middle-class to produce a more cooperative environment (see John Perkins “Hoodwinked”). Overall, social constructs provide guidelines for citizens of a particular society to follow.

The thing that impresses me most about the idea of social constructs is that they can be changed. They aren’t set in stone. They are subject to new information and therefore malleable, adjustable.

I assert that Americans are learning that some of our current social constructs are in need of adjustment.

While we’re probably all up-to-here with the story of the Duggars, there is one theme that stands out from all the noise surrounding the issue:  willful ignorance and keeping something so wildly instinctual as our sex drive confined to unnaturally narrow definitions necessarily provokes problems. The abuse that’s occurred within the catholic church and the jehovah’s witness sect is a manifestation of the same premise. We can’t ignore our instinctive sexual hunger any more than we can ignore our need to drink water. Yet we’ve agreed to adopt a social construct with a rigid interpretation of sex – based almost entirely on a flawed document  As I read the comments and even a few articles reflecting on the Duggars, one thing seems certain:  the current is changing.  We are seeing the negative effects of this particular social construct and we are ready to realign it to more reasonable, and honest, interpretations.

Giving the current a significant boost in velocity is the discovery that many in the US are turning away from religion and the flawed document it is based upon as noted in the recent Pew Research publishing.   By leaving behind an outdated document, by eliminating it from the foundations of our social constructs, I contend that we should expect adjustments to include instead more science, academics, and probably humanistic tendencies.

Change is painful, it is messy, and it is oftentimes violent.  As we move forward together, we must be conscious of the struggle incurred by adjusting and redefining the social construct of sexuality.  It will help us to be patient with one another.  As we move forward together, we must acknowledge that work is involved, awareness is required, and stubbornness is appropriate so that ignorance no longer has a place within the new frameworks.  It will keep us focused.  As we move forward together, those of us who aren’t a part of the millennial generation need to provide them with exemplary discussions and elevate the standard for hashing out new precepts.   It will give them tools to manage their own adjustments.  As we move forward together it behooves us to keep in mind that social constructs are not permanent, they are pliable and influenced by new concepts.  It will enable us to embrace change.

Here’s to healthy adjustments,

Frankie