Your father taught you WHAT? Part 1.

Psychologist George Lakoff, author of Moral Politics. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Jere Keys from San Francisco,


By Kathie Malley-Morrison

In its inaugural issues, Engaging Peace introduced the work of cognitive political psychologist, George Lakoff—particularly his work on political conservatism and liberalism.  Our presentation of his theory included posts on Why We Fight, Countering the Ubiquitous Argument, A New Way of Thinking, and Values and Rhetoric.  Today we begin sharing highlights from Lakoff’s psychological analysis of today’s conservative Republicans, such as the supporters of Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Bottom line, according to Lakoff, is that conservatives generally grow up in a strict father family system. In his view, “In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right.”

Lakoff goes on to say, “The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.”

In regards to renditions of those values in this election year, Lakoff says, “We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy.”

Lakoff also notes that, “Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.”

What do you think of Lakoff’s views?  Do you know any conservative Republicans,  personally?  If so, do you know anything about their families, their personal histories?  To what extent do they seem to support  a strict father morality, a father (authority) knows best morality, a WASP-centered morality? Are they frustrated and angry? Are they going to vote this year?


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How do you get there from here?

International Peace Day poster. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: VectorOpenStock.

by Kathie MM

Consistent with its goal of promoting peace within and among nations, the United Nations, in 1981,  established the International Day of Peace;  in 2002, September 21st became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

Did you know today was the International Day of Peace?  If not, why not? You would know if it was Labor Day, or Memorial Day, or Halloween, right? So why is there no hoopla about a peace day?

At any rate, today is an internationally declared Day of Peace, and here  we are again, most of us hoping for, praying for peace, which probably seems as elusive as ever.  How can we get there, in our daily lives, our relationships, our messages to our government?  Here is one suggestion, from my friend Tom Greening:


Don’t be an angry, hurtful troll.

Rise up and show you have a soul.

Don’t waste your strength in violence,

don’t do cruel deeds that make no sense.

The world needs men, not angry boys.

Help others have life’s thrills and joys.

Explore the ways in which you can

show that you are a loving man.

As years go by you will be proud

you rose above the madding crowd.


Tom Greening

And to learn more about what YOU can do to help move the world away from war and more towards  peace, today and every day, check out this World Without War website

Tom Greening was educated at Yale, the University of Vienna, and the University of Michigan. He has been a psychologist in private practice for over 50 years, and is a retired professor from Saybrook University, UCLA, and Pepperdine. He was Editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology for 35 years. He is a Fellow of five divisions of the American Psychological Association and Poet Laureate of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry.

Posted in culture of violence, Ethic of reciprocity, Nonviolence, Poetry and the arts, Protest, Reconciliation and healing, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

If Trayvon Martin/Tamir Rice/Eric Garner could talk

if-beale-st-could-talk1974. Does it seem like a long time ago? A whole different era—before omnipresent computers spying on everyone, before killer drones, before ISIS? Well, maybe.

James Baldwin published If Beale Street Could Talk in 1974. If you read the book, you will have to admit that the experiences of young black men in 1974 sound very much like the travails of people of color in this country today, especially if they grow up in poverty but even if they just happen to be of the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Although If Beale Street Could Talk is an engaging and haunting love story, it is an even more haunting story of racism, particularly institutional racism, police racism, racism that is, directly and indirectly, murderous—to bodies, to minds, to communities, to our nation.

If you want to understand better the necessity and significance of movements like Black Lives Matter, read If Beale Street Could Talk. And if Trayvon and Tamir and Eric and thousands of other young people of color whose lives were brutally ended could talk, they might want to say something like:

“Of course all lives matter. But you white people just assume your life matters, and you assume you have rights, and you demand respect for your life and your rights. If you think you’re not getting what you deserve,  you get rip-roaring mad, and you feel downright entitled to look for scapegoats and lock them up or shoot them. And sometimes you even vote for crazy people who promise to get rid of all the bad guys troubling your lives. But if you’re black, you know your life doesn’t matter one whit to millions of white people, you know you’re dispensable, and you know your life is at risk even if you’re just driving your car down the road with a broken tail light.”

For anyone who wants to understand why some people feel the need to point out that their lives matter, that black lives matter, too,  I urge you to read James Baldwin. He’s as relevant today as he was 42 years ago, and that is chillingly, distressingly relevant.

Posted in Book reviews, culture of violence, Human rights, police violence, Poverty, racism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment