Sunday, October 19, 2014

How do your political views develop from how you were raised?

Firist modern political debate, Kennedy and Nixon
Behavioral scientists recognize that people learn what they live and that child-rearing patterns produce behaviors that can continue later in life. Children are said to model their parents' behavior and to develop in certain ways as they are taught. So how does that child-rearing affect political choice?.

Experts tell us there are four patterns of child rearing that shape behavior.  These behaviors then become the cornerstone of an adult's future life, including how successful he or she may be and how an individual will think and behave in relationship to other people.

Children who are given strict rules learn to expect them. They value discipline and knowing good limits and often end up wanting to raise their children in the same way they were brought up. Strict definitions of rules that are said to be important lead people to define their world in terms of rules and laws and ways to behave that are said to be part of tradition.

The Republican Party emphasizes the Constitution, the rules, the need to have defined order and the importance of tradition in life. Those who have led their lives by these same rules as children find it comfortable to be within a political party where the rules of behavior are defined and where they can feel safe that those around them can be trusted to follow the same rules.

Those who lived by rules that were understood, yet changed when new things happened in families, and where information was explained as opposed to the message, "just listen and obey" are likely to want the same flexibility in adult life. This means rules might be important but can be broken if there is a new event that requires a different set. Democrats pride themselves on understanding change and being able to work within it as time and events bring new and important information where people must make adjustments. The child who has been taught to do that will choose a political party where those same behaviors are found.

Authority, who has it and how it is used is another way people learn to define themselves in childhood. The father in charge of a family who has unqualified authority and who exercises it with a strong hand will have a child who seeks a parent figure who has the same type of characteristics for leadership. The child who has a strong father in authority will want a political leader with the same characteristics,often Republican as well for that reason.

The person who has parents who share authority and where decisions are made through collaboration come to seek that same collaboration in how they conduct their lives. So the "big tent" of Democrats where negotiation takes time because of differences isn't as uncomfortable for those people where parents sometimes negotiated, or even verbally battled, over differences.

A nurturing parent who disciplines with a voice not the back of a hand often ends up with a child who wants to talk, negotiate and reach understanding, according to the experts. Politics that emphasize e a caring, nurturing pattern, reflected by social concerns for the poor, elderly, disabled and the underdog in general appeal to those individuals who were raised themselves in a caring, nurturing home where parents talked about sharing and caring for others.  Social liberalism defines the Democratic Party, according to social scientists and students of history, particularly in the 20th century.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of those politicians who represents that social liberalism, as his programs to help the underprivileged and his New Deal ideas were oriented towards helping others in a nurturing way, and a way that said society has a responsible to care for its members who have less prilege than others. And FDR himself was raised in that nurturing style that is said to create the social liberal.  His mother was particularly nurturing in her raising of FDR, according to biographers,as she doted over him much of his life, including when he was President.

In the modern family parents often exchange roles, with the father and mother assuming different responsibilities at different times, according to the American Psychological Association.  Still there are differences in child-rearing according to the region of the country where the family resides that will also impact political views. For example, in the South the father often still retains the role as head of the family.  Rules are important, as reflected by the South's legislation that controls personal behavior.  And spanking as a form of discipline is still favored, including the physical discipline by teachers to enforce the rules, as observed in an article about child rearing and child education in Texas.  Still in most American families there has been some shift in how decisions are made within the modern family and a mixed style of how children are encouraged or disciplined, where one might receive a spanking one day or conversation about a behavior the next.. These patterns lead to behaviors where flexibility and independence are required and where this same type of independence and flexibility becomes the hallmark of the behavior and needs of the child as he or she grows up.  These are the people who often become the political Independents.

Political pundits agree that voter apathy is an ongoing concern.  Much of that apathy may come from a fourth pattern of child raising.  That pattern involves parents who are not that involved in the child's rearing, who don't set rules and who are not responsive to a child's needs. Children who are raised with this style have a higher rate of social problems than others and are therefore apt to have those same patterns incorporated into social and political behaviors.  They won't or can't vote, or they may be changeable depending upon emotions at the time.

Those who want to shape politics might examine the behavioral principles involved in how attitudes are shaped from child rearing practices, as these may make a difference in how people vote.  And the problem of voter apathy can also be examined from the standpoint of child-rearing practices as well, so that at the core behaviors can be shaped to encourage voter participation by encouraging parental participation with children in their developmental years.   Because how a child is raised, like a tree that is bent, will determine how he or she will grow and become the adult who helps to shape a nation.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jehovah's Witnesses and Quakers: How to forge links for religious understanding

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses
In a world where divisions of all types can occur among people, building bridges toward understanding can occur by looking at areas of agreement.   On the surface, Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses might appear so different in their beliefs that they would be unable to interact kindly.  But it turns out there are fundamental truths believed by both where they could dialogue in constructive ways.  It is an example of what could be done with many groups to create good will among religious groups and groups of various kinds.

Quakers admonish their followers to examine other religions with an open mind and heart. Others do as well, including many other religious group and individuals that include, but are not limited to, Unitarian-Universalists, Unity Church, and the Baha'i Faith .  Atheists too can find paths to peace in looking at the good within a given set of spiritual beliefs. World Religion Day, which is celebrated annually, is a time when members of different religions come together and share their ideas in ways that promote understanding. To do that means to get past preconceived notions to areas where a given group excels.

As a reporter who has covered religion over a number of years, some of my knowledge of the Jehovah's Witnesses comes from my interaction as an adult in social media groups or places where music and writing is shared.  Other information is gleaned from interviewing members of their church. But years ago I had already formed a positive view of Jehovah's Witnesses based upon my interaction with an any elderly couple I knew as a child.

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Oregon called La Grande, and the elderly couple, the Yentzers, were the parents of my Mother's stepfather.  They were known for their great love for one another and their kindness to others.  On cold days, when I would visit their home, they would greet me with candy and hugs, as they asked questions that showed interest in me.

I read the Watchtower many times during my visits.  It was usually on a side table, and even as a child I enjoyed reading almost everything I could find.  I had been raised to have an open mind and to ask questions. This was something new that challenged my thinking that I could compare with my Father's Mormon family and those of my Mother's core family who were Quakers.

Jehovah's Witnesse have many beliefs in common with Quakers.  They believe as Quakers do in non-violence and refuse to bear arms. They recognize Jesus as central to their faith, just as Quakers do, and do not believe in the Trinity but Christ as the Son and head of their church as Quakers do as well. Many Quakers retain the belief in the Trinity, but differ from other Christians in that Christ is seen not as God but God's son.

Group support for one another within a community is important for both Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses. Witnesses also offer love and support to people outside their own religion, as do Quakers, although social activism is not a major principle of Jehovah's Witness belief.

Quakers advance the preservation of the good of the earth and care and caution with regard to taking care of one's health, as do Some of the Jehovah's Witnesses avoiding pork and unclean things, but many simply focus on living a healthy life.  Much of that depends on the individual's personal behaviors in each case. Quakers also have made a conscious effort to express community, regardless of race; and in the South, where many fundamental Protestant churches are not integrated, Jehovah's Witness groups pride themselves on embracing members of all races.

For every spiritual group there is a set of beliefs and principles that define it, but the best part is the way a person may practice in relationship with others. A loving heart and open mind is fundamental to the Quaker view, the concept of a loving heart regardless of belief.  To examine ways to dialogue with one another, when there are differences, establishes the fundamental principle of how to get along with others.  It is the concept of a loving heart for all, regardless of belief, that can reinforce for everyone the notion that all men are brothers truly.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Forget your fears and relax with the everlasting musical memories of Hawaii's Gabby Pahinui

Gabby Pahinui.jpg
Gabby Pahinui
I saw Gabby Pahinui the first time while walking down an ordinary street in Honolulu,  He sat outside Zippys, a famous restaurant that is now a chain of them in Hawaii, surrounded by local folk eating breakfast with a host of city workers taking breaks, as this King of Hawaiian music brought island way to everyone that day.  His was the traditional sound of Hawaiian music, with the language and melodic style folks worry may be disappearing in favor of the rock sounds and reggae adopted from the Caribbean and the mainland.

While people around the world enjoyed the folk music of the 1960's, the Hawaiian mini musical renaissance that occurred in the decades of the 1960's and 1970's brought a rebound to traditional sounds that captured the island ambiance, when nature's own melodies seemed to be embedded into the strains of guitars, ukuleles and vocals. These were the types of tunes that made Hawaiian music unique.  It was more than "Hawaii Calls," or the Arthur Godfrey stereotypes, but a richness of culture represented by music that visitors and locals alike embraced.  Gabby Pahinui was part of the royalty who made that happen.

Gabby, as folks called him everywhere and as many still refer to him today, was a popular senior musician  at the time I saw him initially in the 1970's. I had just moved to Hawaii, into a local neighborhood called Kapahulu. This neighborhood is adjacent to Waikiki but on the opposite side of the Ala Wai Canal yet still in the neighborhood of Diamond Head, the famous mountain formed from a volcano that is one of the symbols of the area. Authentic Hawaiian music, played with slack key, made me appreciate my good fortune in living in Hawaii, for Gabby's ways were not the Waikiki glitter of the Don Ho shows but that down-home,island style  that represented the greater culture that tourists seldom saw.

Gabby played a kind of music standard people say these days is disappearing in Hawaii. While folks bemoan some the loss of the Frank Sinatra sound on the mainland, Michael Bublee has brought it back there.  In Hawaii Israel Kamakawiwo'ole got the attention of local folk and mainlanders alike, however that Gabby Pahinui sound was something special.  Gabby sang in fluent Hawaiian the standard songs of the islands. He interacted with the crowd around him as if everyone there was family or ohana, as the people of Hawaii define the closeness of everyone, including those not related by blood but by friendship and culture. The home-grown feel said to folks the aloha spirit wafts in the winds of music, the Gabby way.

The local clubs of the 1970's were blessed with Gabby's music. He played at venues around the back roads of the islands as well as making occasional forays into Waikiki. He was, however, more at home with the rural folks, because that was who he was, a man from those back roads himself who was able to capture the soul of the country music of Hawaii, with its own special sound.

Slack key, the style of guitar played in Hawaii with an open G, is played with a gentle almost rocking sound, that makes one feel as if he or she were on a canoe on ocean waves that bring the body and soul a sense of oneness with the very heart of Hawaiian life. That slack key master was Gabby Pahinui, who with his guitar carved his music into that canoe for everyone to enjoy. He was the King of slack key, identified with Hawaiian music as Hawaii's very own native son.

The images of the whiskered man with weather-beaten face, darkened by the sun, and truly Hawaiian in all its majesty, is recognized by the old-timers in Hawaii right away. Those who visit the islands now hear a different beat, that adopts the sounds of the Caribbean with Hawaii ones and mainland modern music. But those who want the islands,bright and beautiful for memories that can be held forever might want to find that special CD in some store, so every day Hawaii is remembered through the music of Gabby Pahinui.

Charles Philip (Gabby) Pahinui died at the age of 59 in 1980. But Gabby's music will likely endure in the hearts of those who heard him then and long for the days when it was his Hawaiian canoe that  carried everyone with aloha with its unique Polynesian sounds.

A special YouTube treat is here with more available by CD and on iTunes, with songs that will help you forget your fears and relax with the musical memories of Gabby Pahinui.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What does America's Pledge of Allegiance teach us about today's epidemic of fear?

Children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
For more than a century the word "socialist" has been used as an epithet to undermine help for desperate groups and to deny serious discussion at a time it's needed most in arguments against the national banking system, public education, Social Security, Medicare and Obama's health care plan.  And as people in the United States laud the symbols of patriotism, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, it turns out that the writer of it was a well-known social liberal of his day.

Before the Civil War the debate about collectivism or socialism was over the national banking system.  While slavery is remembered as a major cause for war, the provocation most pronounced at the outset was the South's rejection of the national banking system and other economic issues.  The argument of states rights and the notion of forced collectivism was posed in hostile language, name-calling, and aggressive tactics that instigated war.

Around the turn of the 20th century public education was also indicted as socialism too, with the proposal for a uniform practice for public schools in order to raise literacy rates and to afford more and more children an education with some standards.  The opposition called it socialist instead.
Using the word socialist has also been done to undermine Social Security, Medicare, and Obama's health care program, and to deny needed help to desperate groups as well as to prevent discussion by issuing emotionally laden jargon.  

Indeed the newspapers of the day and the talk of the town everywhere was like an epidemic, against what was interpreted as socialism, or anything that involved support for a group of people that did not focus especially on the individual at its core.  It was an epidemic of fear.  The notion of a group effort to educate, and to make it possible for everyone, was seen as an assault on American ability to make decisions about what to learn in a classroom and to embrace people in those classrooms who did not have the "right" pedigrees,in terms of economics or class.

It is during elections that the term socialist is heard most often as an epithet, including being hurled at President Barack Obama.  The problem is that the term is used too often to avoid legitimate debate on the issues.  Few people know that the symbols they admire, like the Pledge of Allegiance, was written by a man who, with his brother were both socialists.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in response to  concerns about opposition against public education.  It was composed by Francis Bellamy, (1855 - 1931)  a Baptist minister and author who composed the Pledge in 1892 as part of a quadricentennial program celebrating Columbus Day and for an educational journal called The Youth’s Companion. 

Bellamy's ideas were considered socialist and radical for his time, similar to those of first cousin, Edward Bellamy, who had written several American socialist novels including Looking Backward andEquality. Both Francis and Edward Bellamy believed in a planned economy that would provide political, social and economic equality, beliefs which caused Francis to be asked to leave his position as minister of a Baptist church in Boston. 

During the Columbus Day Program Bellamy addressed state superintendents of education in the National Education Association as well as a large gathering of young people and other celebrants. He knew many Americans considered public schools to be socialistic and that President Harrison was worried about the backlash.  

Bellamy also recognized the nation continued to struggle with its identity as a republic, something that had been declared established by the Civil War that had taken place thirty years before but that continued to be tested by certain social struggles. 

At that Columbus Day presentation, Bellamy began his presentation by talking about how the public schools could unite the nation. He went on to say: "The coming century promises to be more than ever the age of the people; an age that shall develop a greater care for the rights of the weak, and make a more solid provision for the development of each individual by the education that meets his need…... Our fathers in their wisdom knew that the foundations of liberty, fraternity, and equality must be universal education. The free school, therefore, was conceived as the cornerstone of the Republic. Washington and Jefferson recognized that the education of citizens is not the prerogative of church or of other private interest; that while religious training belongs to the church, and while technical and higher culture may be given by private institutions - the training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State.”

Following these statements Bellamy unveiled his Pledge of Allegiance. The original Pledge was as follows, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Bellamy had considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. 

When the Pledge was changed from “my flag” to “the Flag of the United States of America,” Bellamy protested and was ignored. 

The words “under God” were added in 1954 in response to issues raised during the McCarthy era of anti-Communism when many loyal Americans, including another great African American of intellect, Paul Robeson, had their patriotism challenged. Many of Bellamy’s descendants have said that Bellamy would not have liked the addition of the words “under God,” particularly since he had to leave his position as minister and his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. 

So what was Bellamy thinking when he wrote the original pledge? Writers about Bellamy and the Pledge seem to agree that he wanted to stress the importance of the nation as a republic, one nation indivisible. Although Bellamy was to show some ambivalence to immigrant groups and to African Americans in his later writings, he was considered to be a social liberal with respect to the ideals he held at the time he wrote the Pledge.

So do symbols and how we use them make us Americans? Not according to the experts and not according to the one who made one of the most powerful contributions to America’s repository of valued sayings and symbols recited at important meetings and school events across the United States, the Pledge of Allegiance.

Indeed the conclusion seems to be that being an American has more to do with standing for an indivisible republic and recognizing the values of liberty, equality and justice within it. These are the values espoused by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address and the Pledge of Allegiance. The principal authors of these documents would likely agree with modern scholars on etiquette that respectful attention to the symbols, however that might be demonstrated, is more important than some outdated specified practice that does not reflect at all on whether or not a person is a true patriotic American.

They would certainly be worried that the old arguments continue to be dredged up in the same way all the time, which was seen then as efforts to negate helping the greater community in favor of the rich and their needs.  The Pledge of Allegiance is said to have been written not to be recited in ritualistic fashion, in a special way with the hands over the heart, but simply to stand respectfully as it is said.  It is one of those historical references that allow people to understand that symbols and their representations may not always have been conceived in the fashion they are represented today and may indeed be like other symbols, meant to consolidate community support to help the greater good.

And as today's greater good can mean a worldwide effort to combat infectious diseases like Ebola, even as fear again points to anything being done to help that greater community and the greater good as undermining individual freedom of choice, using epithets like socialism instead of reason and justice, something the Bellamy brothers valued most.

ReferencesAssociated Press, June 2002, Pledge writer probably wouldn't mind removal of under God, family says,”
Baer, John. The Pledge of Allegiance, A Revised History and Analysis, 2007Baer, John, The Life and Ideas of Francis Bellamy, 1992
John McCormickObama in Red, White and Blue, Chicago Tribune, June 30, 2008
Miller, Margarette S. Twenty-Three Words, Portsmouth, Va. Printcraft Press, 1976.
Worley, Stephen L., SMSgt. USAF (Ret). Prairie Ridge US History "The Pledge of Allegiance- Francis Bellamy." 1998.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola experts advise public to travel, not panic, and for world cooperation, W. Africa aid

Market in Lagos, Nigeria, country where Ebola spread being interrupted
"My wife and I were just talking this morning and wondering if we should take our scheduled trip to Disneyland next month.  She is concerned about Ebola."  In wondering this, the account executive at a major company joins many others in expressing concern about airplane travel, as Ebola fears mount.  But what do the experts say?

Fears expressed like this are exacerbated by some of the remarks made by politicians, some considering a run for the Presidency, like Bobby Jindal, who has advised people not to travel into countries affected by Ebola and those in the media who fan the flames of panic.  That's because statements like those of Jindal are being reiterated as fact by some of the bloggers who are passing along the advice as key to community and individual protection from Ebola.

News media around the world present the news about the recent cases of Ebola in the West as if they mirrored those in Africa.  However, experts in global health maintain that the focus should be on building the infrastructure in West Africa to support stopping the chain of transmission at the source.  At the same time experts maintain that all the countries throughout the globe should be connected in a communication and support network, again to build and solidify the appropriate response to a virus that is seen by some to be potentially like a modern plague if not managed appropriately.  They also say that restricting travel to West Africa could cause a panic of people, that might cause more to leave.

"Not only would (banning flights) not be effective, I think it could be detrimental to the overall efforts," is Dr. Eden Wells' response to politicians and some in the media recommending that people not travel within their own country borders or to West Africa.

Dr. Wells is the Associate Director for the Preventive Medicine Residency at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  He further tells us, "We need to be able to get resources in and out of these countries to break the chain of transmission."

In assessing the potential of panic and concern about people crossing the borders of various countries who may have the virus, Dr. Well concludes, "We might feel good by trying to close down borders, but in fact I think it would be a very false sense of security." He explains internal evaluator support within communities and atracking the disease at its source in each case, to be the most valuable way to prevent the further spread of the virus.  He uses as evidence the successful way that Nigeria has responded to the outbreak that is largely contained there.  The country of Nigeria was able to halt much of the chain of transmsision with what Dr. Wells calls "Good contact tracing."

While the headlines offer dramatic statements about the virus, global health experts have explained consistently how important is to go to the source of the problem in West Africa and help personnel to build and solidify the infrastructure there.  President Obama has responded by getting military personnel into West Africa to help those countries, just as the experts have recommended.

Aaron Buseh is an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing and an expert on global public health.  He comes from Liberia, where he grew up, and where Ebola has been most rampant.  He is one of those who advocates decision-making that is based on scientific evidence and understanding the culture as important steps in working in West Africa.  He says it is important to build relationships that are based on scientific evidence and cultural understanding and to help the medical community in West Africa.

Countries need to work together in the effort to stop the spread of Ebola, says Buseh, "The fight over containment of the Ebola disease is really a fight against time, and it is no longer on the side of the affected countries and their vulnerable public health systems.  He sees the Ebola outbreak as a global health issue, with the need to strengthen resources where the disease is most rampant.  This is being done as President Obama has sent in 3000 troops into West Africa to help in the fight against Ebola.

Buseh quotes President Obama as he told the U.N. Gneral Assembly, "It's easy to see this as a distant problem---until it is not,"as a reminder that by working hard to stop the disease in West Africa the rest of the world helps to secure its own safety.

And even as these experts encourage people not to panic, nevertheless there are others that ask individuals and nations to be vigilant, those in the healthcare field to be properly trained to deal with Ebola and for those who have been in contact with Ebola patients not to travel using public transportation.  But for others who might want to go to Disneyland, experts maintain the potential for widespread Ebola cases in the United States, and other developed countries, remains low, even as everyone in government and special healthcare agencies need to build cooperation and connections to ensure the safety and security of everyone.