7 Responses to The road less taken

  1. kathiemm says:

    For an extremely thought-provoking commentary on Memorial Days, see
    http://www.stirjournal.com/2014/05/25/on-memorial-day-what-we-choose-to-remember-and-what-we-forget/#comment-457
    by one of our own guest authors, Ross Caputi, and Kali Rubaii.

  2. Gold Dust Twin says:

    Sadly, what most of the day’s flag-wavers remember is how perfect and how great their nation supposedly is — including Gold Star mothers who lost their sons to questionable causes.

  3. Sarah Fekini says:

    Too often we hear of abductions and killings. We feel helpless and outraged. So when Boko Haram abducts over 200 girls in Nigeria, we wonder, “How could a state do nothing about the abduction of so many girls?” It is easy to say things such as, “Every human life is valuable and no one should be tortured even if they have done bad things in their lives,” but in order to find a cure to all of this cruelty, it would be more useful to examine the difference between our immediate reactions—that such acts are inhumane and cruel—and the apparent lack of response of the Nigerian government. Do government officials in Nigeria really feel less outrage at these abductions than we do? I think this is unlikely, and our immediate outrage may be giving in to the temptation to criticize the Nigerian government in hindsight and from thousands of miles away. Yet it is also possible that there are real cultural differences involved.

    Kathleen Malley-Morrison and her colleagues, for example, have conducted research on “Moral Disengagement and Engagement.” This research has revealed that “domestic participants” (born and raised in the US) tend to respond with different degrees of moral engagement and disengagement than their international counterparts. For example, “Participants in the domestic sample scored higher than participants from the international sample in tolerance for five forms of state aggression.” Likewise, “the American sample scored significantly higher than both the Greek and the Spanish sample in tolerance for war.”

    I think that Malley-Morrison and her colleagues are right to suggest that these differences are the result of education and experience: “American respondents, unlike many respondents from other countries, have had no direct experience of invasion, even if their beliefs and values have been influenced by the September 11 attacks,” therefore it is understandable that they respond differently to the idea of state aggression than people who might have had more direct exposure. Likewise, in the case of citizen protests, “It seems quite likely that many members of the international sample had greater exposure to and perhaps participation in public protests that erupted in violence, thereby making them distrustful of demonstrations.” Simply put, people’s background experience and education influence their moral development and their ability to engage or disengage from moral issues.

    Malley-Morrison quotes Albert Bandura: “Throughout history countless people have suffered at the hands of self-righteous crusaders bent on stamping out what they considered evil. . . . Adversaries sanctify their militant actions but condemn those of their antagonists as barbarity masquerading under a mask of outrageous moral reasoning. Each side feels morally superior to the other.” Clearly we need to be careful of assuming that our moral position is superior. The US government failed to respond to early warnings of the 9/11 attack, and, more recently, Santa Barbara authorities failed to stop Elliot Rodger, despite warnings from his own mother.

    It seems our best hope is to educate our youth that violence is not a heroic deed but rather a cowardly act. Without “both parents and teachers [contributing] to the development of moral engagement by introducing moral dilemmas into everyday conversation, asking lots of compelling questions (even if they take the form of leading questions), presenting multiple perspectives on ethical issues, and offering opportunities for self-expression on such issues,” we will not develop the moral instincts that allow us to respond appropriately to our own tragedies, or those of other people. Our governments can only be as good as the people who make them up.

  4. Allie F. says:

    How do we transform the activism and pacifism displayed by Jeanette Rankin from the “road less taken” into the “road usually taken?” How do we create a culture where it is encouraged to demand peace, even if it means losing your job (but ideally does not mean losing your job)? To begin with, we must work on being morally engaged and raising our children to be morally engaged. The quotation that Sarah used in her post, from Malley-Morrison, provides great examples for how to educate our youth to be morally engaged including “introducing moral dilemmas into everyday conversation, asking lots of compelling questions… [and] presenting alternative perspectives on ethical issues.” To me, this sounds like a great approach to start training kids to be engaged and active in what they are learning and moral issues, but how do we raise them to value peace? Schwebel, in his essay “Promoting the Culture of Peace in Children,” discusses the education of children in creating a culture of peace. One of the problems he highlights is that in general, “negative peace” is emphasized over “positive peace. In other words, peace is commonly understood as the absence of war, rather than the presence of something else. Strategies are taught to children to end conflict rather than actively create peace and make relationships. If we altered the way we discuss peace to focus on the presence of things, such as harmony or friendship, as opposed to the absence of war, I feel we would be promoting a culture where more people are striving for peace. This is because the presence of something is more tangible and concrete than the absence of something else (ie., war).

    In 1999, the General Assembly of the UN launched a program to build a culture of peace. Explained in his article, “Assessing the Basis for a Culture of Peace in Contemporary Societies” Joseph De Rivera sought to understand whether or not the eight bases articulated by the UN form a coherent set of necessary and sufficient bases, and a realistic goal for a culture of peace. Some of these components include education, sustainable development, gender equality, tolerance and free flow of information. These goals sound wonderful, yet to me do not seem realistic in a world that highly regards status and is driven by individuals striving for personal gains. De Rivera recognizes this and other similar concerns and acknowledges that the measurements set out by the UN may need refinement, but he feels (and I agree) that they provide a step in the right direction for promoting and studying peace. And maybe someday the activism toward peace, bravely championed by Jeanette Rankin, will become the “path usually taken.”

  5. Jenna McLeod says:

    I agree with the hope and endearment of Sarah and Ali, encouraging courage and outspoken peace education. Research seems to show the history of the nation’s association with peace is not their first instinct, but I agree that it is education and re-education that could change that. The US did it through “drug awareness” and inappropriately through “stranger danger”, but they got people’s attention. As Dr. Milton Schwebel mentions in his article “Victories over Structural Violence”, there are minor victories of progress that the government deserves in this uphill path towards peace and reconciliation. Yet, we should learn from our mistakes (like “stranger danger” inaccurate portrayal of who the common perpetrator is) and grow to engage in peace in all sectors of development – youth education, college representation, national peace holidays, etc. Schwebel notes that it starts with research, since that is an internationally recognized pursuit, leading by example for others that prejudice and hatred of another culture aren’t to be tolerated in the peaceful pursuit. Perhaps then, in a joint effort, this “road less taken” will become so populated, it could be a highway

  6. Alex Siladi says:

    In the above post Bandura is quoted: “invest their sense of self-worth so strongly in humane convictions and social obligations that they act against what they regard as unjust or immoral even though their actions may incur heavy personal costs”. I think it is interesting to consider instances in which people act in ways they believe are moral, but their “humane convictions and social obligations” are deeply misguided. My own moral compass guides me to strive to treat all people equally and with acceptance, but there are some groups whose prejudices and misconceptions about others (in this discussion the LGBTQI community) lead to harm. Hines and Malley-Morrison explain one perspective that “violence is not a gendered problem, but a human problem” and that “male privilege is not at the heart of all IPV”. I feel that this perspective takes a more equality based approach than perspectives that see intimate violence as a gendered problem and that this will allow for services to be made available to the greatest number of individuals.

    Hines and Malley-Morrison write that “according to one perspective the police are indifferent to lesbian battering, either because they do not care whether one lesbian beat up another, because they assume beating is part of the lesbian culture, or because they cannot take IPV seriously when there is no man involved. The prejudices that lead to some of the above issues are qualitatively different from one another, but are equally problematic. Indifference shows that one individual doesn’t see another as an equal. Assumptions that “beating is a part of lesbian culture” misguidedly attempt to respect that culture, which might indicate some understanding of equality. Either way “many LGBTQI individuals perceive law enforcement as an inadequate source of assistance”, which can cause those individuals to not seek assistance.

    I love the way Hines and Malley-Morrison equalize LGBTQI relationships when they write that some risk factors for IPV seem to be unique to this group (societal homonegativity, internalized homonegativity, and AIDS) but that “these factors can be conceptualized under the general category of ‘stressors’, which as shown previously, are influential risk factors for other types of family violence”. I think that including these stressors in a general category of risk factors for other types of violence does a lot to bridge a gap and mitigate the perception of “otherness” which causes so many problems for the LGBTQI community.

  7. Christine C. says:

    Women like Jeanette Rankin exemplify the steps that should be taken to move towards a more peaceful and just society: speaking up for what you believe in when no one else will. When Jeanette spoke out against entering WWI and WWII, she voiced her beliefs at a high personal cost. This one women spoke about highly controversial issues and would not be silenced. We need more people like Jeanette in our society to speak up about controversial issues so that we can begin to work towards making a change.

    One issue in particular that men and women have silenced over the years is the abuse of men by their intimate partners. Feminists rejected the notion that men could be abused by women in a male dominated society. This rejection came from fear that acknowledging the abuse of men would lead to reduced aid and resources for battered women. Rather than helping men who were battered, society swept the issue under the rug because it opposed preconceptions about gender roles and masculinity. Ignoring this problem has not made any progress in reducing the rate of violence by women against men for the past 17 years. These battered men are also fearful of leaving their relationships because the majority of child custody cases are won by women and they would lose much of their paternal rights. By staying in abusive relationships the cycle of abuse can spread to the next generation, who grows up watching emotional maltreatment of their father by their mother. Someone needs to raise their voice like Jeanette and help put an end to the cycle of abuse. We cannot sit idly by as men continue to suffer abuse at the hands of their partners. History has shown us that ignoring a problem is not the solution, so we need to raise our voices and make a change ourselves. All statistics and Information from Family Violence in the United States Defining, Understanding, and Combating Abuse.

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