Friday, December 27, 2013

Will We See Real Change in Catholicism?

It has been an interesting year in the Roman Catholic Church with the election of Pope Francis, a man with new ideas and ways to express them.

Though many Catholics feel a change coming, it will be interesting to see how Pope Francis puts action into play, moving past only making statements that bring hope to many who feel that the church is out of date, and does not practice what it preaches.

In this article in Financial Times, Pope Francis is described as an "old man in a hurry to revitalize his church." Will talk about de-emphasizing stands on gays and lesbians, abortion, and contraception lead to a breakdown policies within the church that maintain and build social and economic hierarchies worldwide? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Our Way in Oregon

We are proud to say that we contributed to an historic day in Oregon, by sitting multiple times in front of the library collecting signatures to put Marriage Equality on the Oregon ballot.

On Monday, same-sex marriage advocates in Oregon reported they had collected enough signatures to give voters a chance to legalize same-sex marriage in 2014.

Oregon has the chance to make history by becoming the first state to repeal a marriage ban. In 2004, the state's voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Christians on Top

The Supreme Court is hearing a case that involves Christian prayers at town board meetings of elected officials. Because the prayers are Christian, which is on top of our religion hierarchy in the U.S., for centuries many people have not questioned whether the practice is in violation of the separation of church and state and say that the prayers are inclusive of the nation. Obviously this opinion is based on hierarchy because what is good for the top is considered to be acceptable for everyone in the hierarchy.

The religion hierarchy is so strong in the U.S., particularly among the right wing who depend on religion to maintain their power and their base, that just talking about Christian prayers cannot provide enough traction to make the hierarchy visible. Columnist Jeff Schweitzer uses role reversals to bring focus to the special privileges  that Christianity enjoys.  

"The obvious problem of course is that not all citizens believe Christ is our savior. No big deal, you say? What is the problem you ask? Would any Christian or Jew tolerate a town meeting opened exclusively with an Islamic prayer from the Quran? How would our Christian citizens feel if the meeting were opened with pleas to Allah? Or if the opening prayer was done in Hebrew? The answer is obvious and self-evident: it would be offensive, and clearly counter to the ideal of freedom of religion. That reality simply cannot be denied. Still not convinced? Then imagine an imam, bearded and turbaned, in traditional dress, standing before our United States Congress, invoking the Quran to open every session of the House and Senate. Not comfortable with that? Then imagine how every Jew, Muslim and Atheist feels with each opening of a government meeting with a Christian prayer."

To understand the possible liabilities to a person who is considering holding the top accountable by objecting to Christian top-of-the-hierarchy practices, we can read comments from Barry Lynn:  You need a zoning variance for your small business. You will need a majority vote and you will be noticed – and indeed singled out – if you happen to reject the prayer-giver’s invitation to “bow your head,” “join with us” or “stand up.” What attorney would counsel a client to make herself known as a person not going along with the crowd as she, moments later, seeks assistance from that body?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ranking Movies to Encourage Strong Women

Swedish cinemas have started to rank films according to gender bias. That's a welcome change.

In order to receive an "A" rating, a movie must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. Wow, this seems like this requirement would not be difficult to pass, but many films have failed, including "Lord of the Rings," all "Star Wars" movies, and all but one Harry Potter film.

This rating is a refreshing way to pull us out of our hierarchical programming that doesn't notice when men dominant our movies, and women are relegated to subordinate and submissive roles.  We hope that this rating system spreads quickly, so that we reach their stated goal of seeing more female stories and perspectives on the cinema screen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Bullying Grooms Leaders of Hierarchies

Bullying is receiving well-deserved attention these days. We are pleased because bullying is one behavior that our children learn at an early age that can be used to build and maintain hierarchies. The excuse “boys will be boys” is dangerous because it trains the top group that they will be allowed to act as they please and be let off the hook when they dominate and destroy others.

CNN reports that in her latest book, "Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World," Rosalind Wiseman reveals the ways boys think, uncovers their complicated emotional lives and explores how the power of their social hierarchies influences their emerging identity.

The article describes a principal who dismissed a bullying charge and tried to convince a mother of a victim that the behavior wasn't bullying, but instead, it was simply boys being mean. Wiseman says that principals that act like this are literally telling boys they have the carte blanche to not only continue the behavior, but increase the abuse because they can get away with it.

These principals are training boys to build hierarchies and use harassment and violence to stay on top. In order to stop our hierarchies, we must stop grooming those on top beginning at an early age.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dixiecrats and the Tea Party

The recent shutdown in Washington shows again the shift in our country that is forcing the top of our hierarchies to go further and further out. This trend is described on the Death Struggle page of our website (go to "Hierarchies," to "Death Struggle.") 

Using a see-saw model for our country, the Tea Party is on one side, building outdated hierarchies which benefit a few. The other side represents everyone working to bring our history of hierarchies to a close.  

The Tea Party members who want to conserve hierarchies can hold on to power on this see-saw in two ways:

1. Gain weight 
2. Increase distance 
They can't gain weight because fewer and people agree with them, even fellow Republicans. So they must go farther out in their hierarchy ideology to keep the balance. But they can only go so far as eventually they will fall off the end and be out of the game. 

In the New Yorker article "The G.O.P's Dixiecrat Problem," the current Tea Party is compared to other hierarchy builders who wanted to stall African American civil rights by aligning against Democrats and with Republicans. The last lines of the article predicts the fate of our modern-day hierarchy-holdouts: 

"Sixty-five years ago, the Dixiecrats spearheaded a movement toward the G.O.P. The Tea Party is an echo of that same movement, save for one distinction: in 2013, the rebels have nowhere left to go."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Welfare for the NFL

The National Football league is wealthy, but still gets welfare from the taxpayers. We are so used to hierarchies, that we don't question when the top gets their welfare checks from tax payers. Easterbrook's article describes how the owner of the Washington Redskins [with their hierarchical racist name] is worth $1 billion, yet the taxpayers paid $4 million to upgrade a workout facility.

Taxpayers in Ohio were hit with a $33 Million bill for stadium costs while the county cut $23.6 million from their health-and-human services budget. In Minnesota, the legislature, facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, extracted $506 million from taxpayers to pay for a new football facility. Although the capital for the stadiums is being underwritten by the public, most football revenue generated within the facility will be pocketed by club owners. In NFL city after NFL city, the pattern is repeated. The extremely profitable and one of the most subsidized organizations in American history, the NFL also enjoys tax-exempt status.

The article concludes:  "Until public attitudes change, those at the top of the pro-football pyramid will keep getting away with whatever they can. Ordinary people are taxed so a small number of NFL owners and officers can live as modern feudal lords and ladies. Football is the king of sports, based on inequality and greed."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Congress Lives the Lives of The Rest of Us

We have seen many emails and petition requests that demand that when Congress shuts down the government, they should personally feel the same economic effects that their decisions are forcing on so many people who are losing pay for being sent home from their jobs.

Typical of any hierarchy, the people on the top make decisions that don't personally hurt them, but very  much hurts people in lower levels of the hierarchy.

How about health care? Let members of Congress feel what it is like not to be covered, or to be covered by a less comprehensive policy than they are given as part of being in Congress. We'll see how fast they move to bring health care to them and their families.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tea Party Diversity - White Males from Different States

"We've got a diverse caucus, frankly," John A Boehner said, when asked at a news conference last Thursday who, exactly, was running his conference.

But to Boehner, diversity must mean that members of the Tea Party congressional caucus are from different states, because otherwise, it is hard to know what he means by diversity. Every one of the 15 Republicans mentioned in the article are white males. We might assume by their policies that they are all heterosexual,  Christian, and able-bodied, though we haven't researched that fact.

Here's the list, in the order they are mentioned in the article.

Ted Yoho
John A. Boehner
Justin Amash
Scott Rigell
Tom Graves
Thomas Massie
Ron Paul
Ted Cruz
Tim Huelskamp
Steve King
Marlin Stutzman
Mark Meadows
Michael G. Grimm
Tim Griffin
Sean P. Duffy
Mike Lee

If we want to talk with members of the Tea Party about making laws that positively effect the lives of our diverse country, it looks like the diversity that matters to them is already being well served.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Count Men into Rape

In a United Nations report examining violence against women, almost a quarter of men surveyed in parts of Asia admitted to committing at least one rape. Ten thousand men from six countries took part in the survey.

Of course the widespread use of rape is alarming, but at least this survey is focused on the men who commit that violence. Too often data and prevention programs focus on women.

The only way to stop rape is for males to stop raping females. Obviously men as the cause of the problem have to become part of the discussion in order to work toward any real solution.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trayvon Martin's Killing Wasn't Isolated Incident

Our recent article published in Women's eNews addresses the hierarchical programming of people who think that African Americans are overreacting to the Travon Martin killing. The African American community is responding to yet another example of what they live with constantly, while others are seeing the killing  as an isolated incident.
There's a double standard in any hierarchy when it comes to assumptions about abuse or violence. Whenever a group that's on the top of a hierarchy exhibits an undesirable behavior, it is considered an isolated incident. Conversely, when if a member of a lower group acts out in a way that’s undesirable, their behavior is viewed collectively as being universal to the whole group and their culture. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's Not a Joke

Washington Post Columnist Kathleen Parker's recent article – about the clown skit with an Obama mask at the rodeo in Missouri – used a Role Reversal that illustrates how one's perceptions can change according to her or his place on a hierarchy.

Role reversals provide us enlightening experiences; elusive hierarchies reveal themselves in an instant. When we're on the top of a hierarchy (here, race) the concerns of bottom groups can look ridiculous. But when we become the bottom group, we often see the harm of the hierarchy instantly.

Kathleen Parker writes:

"To be honest, my first reaction was: What a lot of bull. But then, as one must, I put myself in the other’s shoes. How would I feel if my face were on the clown’s mask and the arena were filled with men who cheered the beast who would trample and destroy me? 

"This is where political commentary becomes something else. Frightening. We all know what happens when the mob is empowered, especially when further emboldened by the excuse of humor. Few statements are more dishonest than 'It’s just a joke.'"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

John Lewis's Life for All to Read

For those of us who would like to use a new medium to learn more about the fall of hierarchies, we note that a new comic book series is being published by Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement. Starting from a suggestion by one of his staff members, Mr. Lewis is presenting the first of a series depicting his life, called "March," at Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego this week.

Seems like a good opportunity to bring history to life for people of almost all ages.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Elders are Resources

When a relative moved into the Community Cares facility in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, we decided to use the internet to find out more about her new home. We watched a television spot about the organization and were impressed by their description of a center that considered the residents' thoughts, skills, abilities to be the its greatest resource. The center has an on-site child daycare center where multiple generations can get to know each other. They go out into the community often and there are several animals that live at the facility.

The director of the non-profit organization said that they followed the  Eden Alternative model. When we looked at their website, we were impressed with their 10 principles. Here are some of them:

An Elder-centered community commits to creating a human habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with plants, animals, and children. Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human and animal companionship.

An Elder-centered community honors its Elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or into the hands of those closest to them.

Creating an Elder-centered community is a never-ending process. Human growth must never be separated from human life.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Who are the Pimps?

This week, the FBI rescued 105 young people and arrested 150 alleged pimps in a three-day sweep in 76 cities.

Articles reporting the roundup, as that referenced below, point out that the young people in the roundup were almost all girls, ranging in age from 13 to 17. However, no article we could find referenced the gender of the pimps.

We know from studying hierarchies that we are programmed not to hold the top accountable. Is that the reason that we aren't informed of the gender, assuming men are the pimps? Is it because in hierarchies we assume that what the top does is a reflection of, and problem of, all of society, and not isolated problem of the top group? Are we assuming "boys will be boys" and there is nothing we can do to change the detrimental attitudes of how men view and treat themselves and women sexually?

Like a city who continuously cleans up the river from a company that continues to pollute, we are not dealing with why male culture in our society finds child prostitution enticing. Stating that further, we are not talking about why male culture produces pornography and stands by while men to commit so many rapes and sexual assaults. Almost every week we see another news story of a girl or woman being sexually assaulted and/or murdered by men, and we hardly ever see women doing the opposite.

Let's start insisting that if a lower group of the hierarchy is going to be identified as such, as in the case of girls with the roundup of pimps, that the upper group be identified also. We would undercover gems of wisdom about our hierarchies.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Limited View Brings Limited Life

In a great video, Dustin Hoffman describes how men will only consider talking to women who have a certain look, and he has realized how much men miss. Men do limit their lives when they insist on staying at the top of a sexist hierarchy. Women have known this for years, as so many women will go to great lengths – surgery, eating disorders, uncomfortable shoes and clothes, changing their natural selves –  just to "make the cut" so men will pay attention to them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No Problem with No African Americans on the Jury?

It appears to us that it was Travon Martin who was on trial, not George Zimmerman, as so much talk was about Martin's actions. Typical of our racial hierarchy, anyone in the bottom group is scrutinized, while the top is not held accountable for their actions, even when they fully initiate the problem.

The jury did not include any African-Americans, as we would expect in our race hierarchy. The top group is assumed to represent everybody, so it wasn't questioned when most of the jurors were white.

Each of us is programmed from childhood to believe that the top group in a hierarchy represents everyone. 

For example, our schools teach American history as the history of everyone in this nation. But the stories we learn are predominantly about white men. To study the history of other groups, people have to take separate classes, such as African American history, women’s history or Native American history. And if we take “Hispanic American History,” we don’t expect to learn “Asian American History,” because a class about anyone but white men is assumed not to be inclusive of anyone else.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Leveling the Religion Playing Field

The group American Atheists is planning to erect 50 monuments on public sites around the country where the Ten Commandments stand alone. A quote from a member of the organization puts their perspective into hierarchical terms:

“True equality means all or none,” said Ken Loukinen, a retired firefighter in Florida who volunteers as director of state and regional operations for American Atheists. “Christianity has had an unfair privilege for at least the last 150 years. We want to level the playing field by stripping them of privilege, and bringing them to equality with all other ideologies.”

Christianity does not have to put itself on top of a hierarchy claiming to be "the only" religion. But unfortunately in our country, many people also use the "superiority" of Christianity as an excuse to build hierarchies based on additional factors besides religion.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Huckabee, and Jesus Weeping Tears of Joy

The day after the Supreme Court rulings striking down DOMA and reinstating Prop 8, we still are celebrating. Such significant contributions to breaking down the sexual orientation hierarchy are exciting and rewarding.

Hierarchy-conservator former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's response was, "My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: 'Jesus wept.'"

No doubt, if you support a religion where man is not made in the image of "God," but "God" is made on the image of a man on top of a hierarchy, then you might believe that Jesus would be disappointed in yesterday's ruling.

But for those of us who understand that human interpretation of religion in often used to further hierarchies, we more likely would think that Jesus is smiling, unless instead weeping tears of joy.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

30% of Women Suffer from Domestic Violence

People on top of hierarchies keep the hierarchies going because they perceive that they benefit from them.

Why do men perceive that they benefit from being violent toward their partners?

Are they taught that being in control is more important than valuing a human relationship that is rooted in equality and fairness? Are they taught that to use violence as a control tactic to keep a hierarchy strong is more important than the relationship they are destroying? Do they believe that men should get what they want at the expense of women who are lower on their hierarchies?

Do they pass the blame for any of their problems down the hierarchy to their female partners, keeping accountability away from themselves on top? With the priority of maintaining the hierarchy, do men remain emotionally detached from the negative effects of their actions on women?

Men are not born violent, but our system of hierarchies keeps them believing violence for them is normal.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hierarchies Masquerading as Religion

It will be a great day for our country's spiritual health when so many of our religions are no longer used to promote outdated hierarchies. Unfortunately, this technique has been successful for decades, as when hierarchy conservators meld their religions with support for hierarchies, it is easier for them to hide behind their "noble causes."

On this website, we describe how this works, under the tab "Your Life" and the webpage "Religion." In hierarchies, "Man" is not made in the image of God, but God is made in the image of a man on top of a hierarchy.

Three examples around the United States this week illustrate the point very well.

As we see the erosion of hierarchies in every corner of the globe, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said that there is a "war on Christianity, not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide." GOP leadership is saying 'a war on Christianity' is funded by taxpayers. Prominent religious conservatives this week are continuing to push the party to embrace limits on women's right to control their bodies and gay and lesbian rights.

Three weeks after the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay youth to join, Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said, "There will be a mass exodus over time. Churches are finally going to have to come to realize – there is a point when you say, ‘sorry, no more.'"
A "North Carolina Defense of Religion Act" proposed this spring would allow a state religion, presumably Christianity. As part of ongoing "Moral Monday" protests, 83 opponents were arrested this week for opposing the conservative agenda of North Carolina's Republican-run state government. "Forward together — not one step back" — a theme of the more than 380 protesters arrested in the six weekly protests held so far. The rally, organized by the NAACP, was dominated by clergy members whose religions do not support the hierarchical laws proposed by the Republican-run state government that they say will harm minorities and the poor.
We think that Mr. Page has a great train of thought. It has come time to say "sorry, no more," to hierarchies masquerading as religion.,0,1372924.story

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Who's Behind It All?

Today we already have news of three bomb threats in our country. It is only a little after 9:00 am on the west coast – the day has just begun.

Princeton University in New Jersey ordered the campus to be evacuated because of a bomb threat to "multiple unspecified campus buildings."

Two bomb threats near the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta caused the buildings housing the state Attorney General's office and the state Supreme Court to be evacuated.

The Richmond International Airport in Virginia was evacuated after a threatening phone call.

We pointed out in our Washington Post op-ed that the people committing mass shootings of people they don't know tend to white males, way more than their numbers in the general population. We again last week saw a white male kill random people at and near Santa Monica College in California, with an intent to kill more given his massive amount of  ammunition and his shots that didn't kill.

Would we obtain the same type of statistics if we were to single out this top-of-the-hierarchy group of white males for other crimes, such as these bomb threats this morning? We instead are trained not to hold them accountable as a group, and instead believe that their actions represent all of our society instead of discussing how the white male culture helps to create and sustain the violence in our country.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why is Sexual Assault Considered a Benefit for Men?

Discussion of sexual assault in the military is gaining steam. Now we are wondering why officers want to allow commanders to ignore allocations of assault.  The conversation is still focusing on justice for women, which is important, but does not address the problem, only the result. Let's talk about the cause of the problem - the culture that makes men believe that attacking women benefits them.

Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said that the crisis has grown so dire that he could no longer recommend a young woman to join the armed services. Hummm...women (the lower group on the hierarchy) have to again change their lives and lose opportunities because men (the higher group) are not being held accountable in real ways.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, told the military leaders that not all commanders are committed to dealing with sexual harassment and assault. Some, she said, do not welcome women in the military. Others don't "differentiate between a slap on the ass and rape because they merge all these crimes together." Hierarchical techniques of violence and assault have always helped to create an elite club (in this case of men), and measures to let women know they are not welcome are encouraged. Is that what men are trying to accomplish?

This conversation needs a new focus. In hierarchies, people on top act in ways that they perceive is to their benefit.  SO...why do men really believe it is to their benefit to attack women?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Work Til You Drop

The LA Times reported today that the United States is the only "advanced economy" that does not require paid vacation for employees.

The average number of paid vacations days per year provided to American workers in the private sector, which is 16, would not meet the minimum number of paid vacation days required by law in 19 countries.

Low-wage workers and employees working for small businesses are affected most by the lack of paid time off.

The study reported that Norway and France legally require as many as 30 paid vacation days, and many other European countries guarantee their workers at least 20 paid vacation days per year. Canada and Japan guarantee at least 10 paid vacation days per year.

South Korea has the fastest declining working time in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and now, in the last decade, has moved to require mandatory forty-hour, five day working weeks for everyone, starting with companies with over 1000 employees in 2004, gradually including smaller and smaller businesses until everyone was included in 2011. The government has continuously increased public holidays to 16 days in 2013, more than the 10 days of the United States.

In a hierarchical society such as the United States, when we are pushed to climb the ladder and rise above everyone else, and produce more and more profits, quality of life is often put on the back burner.,0,5777579.story

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Violence and Tragedy with a Different View

Because of the real-life devastation that tornados caused in Oklahoma yesterday, CBS decided to postpone the finale of the sitcom “Mike & Molly,” which dealt with a tornado hitting Chicago.

Following the mass shootings in a premiere showing in Aurora, Warner Bros., the distributor of the violent movie “The Dark Knight Rises," canceled gala premieres in Paris, Mexico and Japan, and some television advertisements. The company instructed cinemas to stop showing a trailer for a film “Gangster Squad” which preceded “The Dark Knight Rises” screenings in some cities because it contained a scene involving the main characters shooting at a movie theater audience with machine guns.

Why are disastrous and violent events entertaining to so much of the American public, when if they happen in real life, we think of them as tragic? Have we separated ourselves into different groups on hierarchies to such an extent that as long as tragedy and violence is happening to someone else, we don’t feel their pain, and enjoy watching them suffer and/or die?

What if we, for a week, imagined that every violent and unkind act we see on TV or in the movies were happening to us or to our sister, brother, mother, father, son, daughter, partner, friend. Would we find it entertaining to watch such pain and suffering by ourselves or someone we love? Would that exercise help us to overcome the divides that hierarchies have caused, and instead, build the community that our country craves?