We stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized or those whose worth in the world is called into question. We are allies to one another.
Our country has been through a tumultuous election season, and many have had strong emotional reactions to the results. As we contemplate factors that lead to the polarized election, let us remember our history. In the 1890’s, there was fear and concern that a few (e.g., railroad barons) were taking advantage of the many. In fact, one author wrote of the times: “Liberty leads to wealth, and wealth leads to less liberty.” The working and middle classes were outraged by the unfair tactics used by the few to garner more wealth, as workers were toiling 12 hours per day for scanty wages. There was no recognition that the courts could protect the working classes. For example, the courts overthrew many attempts at regulating train prices, so that the wealthy would give “rebates” to their friends, and cause others to pay more for transport of agricultural goods, oil, and other resources. This practice drove small business owners to bankruptcy, so that the monopolies would buy their firms and farms at sell out prices. In fact, in 1893 there was a terrible depression, with 25% of people out of work. Sound familiar? Yet, the Americans of that time fought back. The Progressive Party, led by Theodore Roosevelt but with close communication with an amazing press (primarily McClure’s magazine, which paid top notch journalists well to investigate social issues of the times and publicize to the masses) were able to turn this trend around. We went through another cycle similar to this in the 1920’s, with the resulting depression of 1929.
Yet again, the “New Deal” promoted public jobs for the unemployed (which had been suggested but voted down in 1893) and helped to turn the tide around. We are in yet another cycle, precipitated by banker greed and corruption, which led us again to a depression that affected the poor much more than the wealthy.
As family therapists and systems thinkers, we recognize multi-generational patterns, and we are expert at interventions, which may interrupt destructive patterns. We must now turn these skills to understanding what is happening in our country, and to devise systemic interventions to continue the founding values of our nation. We want to promote “Liberty and Justice for ALL,” not just for the privileged. As in the early 1900’s, where writers took to the pen in book, magazine and newspaper format to garner public opinion against the injustices of that era, we want to use our scholarly skills to do the same. For these reasons, the Family Process Institute has founded a new committee, the “Social Justice Committee.” We want to find ways to gather our systems thinking skills into actions that can promote more justice and peace in our country. We encourage those of you submitting articles to Family Process to be cognizant of the social justice implications of your work; we encourage submissions about systemic interventions into the body politic. We also wish to offer website resources detailing systemic interventions tried in our country recently (e.g., to promote dialogue about the racial divides, to share thinking of actionable steps that we may be able to put in place in our own communities).
I am grateful for a country that has repeatedly tackled the issues of injustice, sometimes failing, but in the long run succeeding in those efforts. I am grateful for the grounded and caring communities in this country who are willing to work together, and for leaders who give proper leadership and goals. I am grateful for those who will stand up to protest any attempts at the government promoting injustice, and I am grateful for those who will create new systems to better promote liberty and justice for all. We can do this, we have done it in the past. We need to stand together and think clearly about solutions.