A “norm” is a pattern of behavior, based on values of the dominant group within an organization, or its society; A norm is an accepted unchallenged model. The progressive development of human civil rights would not have occurred without the challenge of certain norms being practiced and sustained as the way we do things here.
This op-ed will present important areas wherein existing norms are being challenged and those challenges must be sustained if new norms are to be formulated and applied to social and economic disparities existing today.
More progressive norms are needed if women are to receive “equal pay for equal work”. Let’s not neglect to include wage disparities paid to ethnic groups such as Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans including all undocumented workers. The formulation of a progressive norm which enables equal pay for equal work must also take into account the definition of a living wage which ensures a family may make it on the earnings of one wage- earner per family.
While this may seem daunting, it is possible to achieve and apply a new norm which enables the fair distribution of wealth as well as having more folks achieve various levels of “Middle Class Life”. Such an achievement will decrease stress levels requiring mental health services. Such a norm must include access to suitable affordable housing, medical care services, and access to education and training/retraining. First and foremost: Formulate the basic ideal and then look for a pathway to that goal. And let’s ensure that no one is left out because of lack of representatives at the conference table. As a suggestion, let’s consider using Native American reservations as locations where certain ideas may be first applied and tested.
Much attention is being focused upon sexually abusive practices with much finger-pointing at the wrong-doers. What is lacking is the discussion of an existing norm relating to respecting the privacy and sacredness of human reproductive biology and the relationships which focus upon ensuring having the next generation and having erotic pleasures. It is unfortunate that sexual abuse is found at all levels from puberty to old age and that the Catholic Church is currently not the role model which humankind needs today. Al Gore has exposed the data that too many individuals exist today which means that some form of family planning is necessary if human kind is not to further encroach upon the shrining habitats of animal species of all kinds. And a successful approach to global climate changes must involve disciplined behavior by commercial and individual actions which reduce the production of greenhouse gases.
At the family level, the usual norm is to not talk about family planning, family income & budgets; mental health issues, politics, and what is happening during puberty. The topic of having an abortion is almost never discussed. Women who have unwanted pregnancies are not able to discuss this matter with their parents at all especially if under the age of 18. The U.S. Congress has conservative members whose focus is to prevent any and all abortions. A major problem is that too many individuals do not have the vocabulary to discuss or debate the many issues involved. My suggestion is that parents teach their youth just before the onset of puberty about the human anima which responds to the onset of higher levels of testosterone in males and estrogen in females. A pre-puberty instruction would likely be effective because the developing youth is not pre-occupied with the opposite sex yet. There is a need to challenge the norm of not talking or learning about human reproduction at an early age.
Too many children who have been molested sexually do not know how to tell parents and police exactly what happened because the norm is to never discuss nor instruct youth on these matters. So, what they do learn is from their friends many of whom use gutter language to communicate. Again, individuals need to know specific words to accurately convey what transpired. At the minimum, children need to know that there are three kinds of love: 1) Filios: “brotherly love”; 2) Eros: erotic, salacious love; and 3) Agape: the pure love which God projects upon us all. Love is another human activity which needs to be learned about. This requires a specific vocabulary about, at the minimum, anatomical parts and features of the human male and female.
Much stress and many mental health issues would be mitigated with a more thorough knowledge of the anatomy of sexual behavior. Too many are ignorant and do their parenting by using rules. Boys are told to “keep it in your pants and girls are told to never get involved. And the Catholic Church decrees sexuality is only for propagation efforts. Yet today, it is possible to divide sexual activity into propagation efforts (we want to have a family) and recreational sexuality (we want to have “fun”). Many different norms which apply to these issues need to be challenged. But be prepared to inform truthfully and accurately using human biological terms which are now better defined and understood. All religions, especially Christians, need to revisit the commandment stating that “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. What theologians are espousing and what the laity are doing are two different levels of activity: Chastity vs. Relationships.
In many societies, individuals never communicate to each other about religious convictions and beliefs; about wage earnings; wealth; and about many relationship issues which are deemed very private. Among these are bigotry, racism, prejudice, and white supremacy. Recently these sorts of issues are in the daily news because of Mr. Trump’s use of language which seems to bring out the latent worse in many. Society has many conventions which are the result of norms formed ages ago, all of which need to be challenged, understood, and updated.
More of us need to accept at the gut level that we are all members of humanity created with reason and grace. We live on one unique planet, no other like it has been discovered in the universe despite astrological efforts. What each of us does as individuals or as groups ends up having a ripple effect upon the ecosystems which are in equilibrium. It is only recently that the equilibrium which favors existing biological existence that greenhouse gases have been identified as favoring slight rises in temperatures causing major climate changes. Each of us must act responsibly despite the lack of national leadership which rejects scientific knowledge of the trends in motion today.
Understanding the norms involved will enable us all to do the right thing – despite lack of leadership.
Several sages have declared that this planet EARTH has sufficient resources to enable each of us to live a reasonably good life. But first each of us must be disciplined enough to deliver what is required as the Good Samaritan Stewards of all the resources Divine Providence provided. Humanity and its leaders must rise to meet that challenge which means each of us is responsible to deliver our share; and I see no way that the ultra-wealthy and influential can deliver their share unless they are willing to permit a distribution of wealth to provide the resources needed to maximize the corrective programs necessary. Collectively, We, the People can accomplish this. Diverse populations have a higher survival rate. That is what this is all about.