This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The first thing a family therapist learns is that to resolve conflicts leading to the need for intervention, everyone concerned has to let go of the need to assign blame for the problems. Understanding that very bad things can happen from the actions of essentially good people caught in a dysfunctional system is the first step necessary to create a strong family that can solve its problems without outside help.

This lesson applies to societies as well. Like a family, members of a society depend on each other to help deal with problems affecting each of them and society as a whole. In an increasingly complex society that is failing to meet the needs of more people every year, it is critical to remember that societies are formed to meet the needs of their members. As in a healthy family, in a sane society members do their best to ensure the safety and well being of all other members.

Across America and in many parts of the world we are witnessing the breakdown of families. As the global game of Monopoly winds down to its end, wealth continues to accumulate in the hands of the few, causing mounting pressure for the many. The strains of daily living are such that we are seeing a rise in alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, homelessness and the abandonment of the ideal that it is our moral duty to care for one another. As a result, abuse of children is rising, incarceration of youth is reaching alarming proportions and the current generation of children seems destined to perpetuate the cycle of abuse, abandonment and nihilism that threaten society as a whole.

In such circumstances, it is natural for responsible adults who recognize the problem to first look for causes. In doing so, some are singled out for blame. However,
 the accusers often fail to recognize their own roles in maintaining the dysfunctional system. Those who think themselves conservatives blame the problem on “socialism” while many who think of themselves as liberal blame creeping “fascism.” The response of those who think the “mommy society” is too permissive is to demand more control over the behavior of others. Those who think the “daddy society” is authoritarian and controlling naturally rebel at restrictions on their personal freedom, leading to behaviors that frighten those who have a psychological need for order and control.

In families and societies where those in power limit choices of individuals, the result is members who do not learn to think for themselves. They do not learn to question whether what they are taught by parents or learn from society makes sense when compared to their own experience. Because of this, they may accept the fallacy that each of us is responsible for our own destiny when the fact is that in a society where the powerful are allowed to prey upon the weak, opportunities to succeed are limited by a system set up by those who profit the most from inequity.

In families and societies where personal responsibility is not taught, there is chaos because members lose sight of their collective responsibility just as surely as those who only value personal responsibility. Both fail to recognize that a society, like a family, has a responsibility to take care of its own. In either case, selfishness is the rule and all suffer as a result. When members of a family think only of themselves, there are no familial bonds to help members weather the inevitable storms life. In the same way, members of societies in which it is believed that each of us is interested in only what we can get by outcompeting each other are lost when that society begins to unravel. Thanks to our worship of those who have fared best in the game of Monopoly that we accept as a given, we have failed to recognize that we can change the rules anytime we choose. However, changing the rules requires consensus. That requires that we talk to each other in a spirit of compassion born of brotherly love.

When families break down, it is often the result of one member being labeled as the “black sheep,” who becomes the scapegoat for conflicts in the family. In a sick society where brother turns on brother, the “black” sheep are often those of color who are different only in appearance from the white majority. In the US, a nation dominated by white-skinned Europeans, the scapegoats are currently African Americans, Hispanics and Arabs. In European nations themselves, Muslims and African immigrants are often blamed for the unrest in those societies.

Now that people around the world are falling victim to the depredations of the international corporate terrorists who have seized control of the US government, we must all realize our common interest in standing up for each other to establish liberty and justice for all. We are one human family and together comprise one society of Mankind. Our commonalities are much more important than our differences: they are what make us human. Our differences provide the variety that is the spice of life. More importantly, it is our diversity that gives us the ability to evolve as a people into one which will create a rational, sustainable world in which our children can not only survive, but thrive.

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