ABCD

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Introduction

You already have an opinion about abortion.  Even I do.  I chose such a difficult topic to force myself into the difficult position of analyzing a subject from positions that I don’t ordinarily consider.  The journey won’t be easy and I may fail, but this will be the beginnings of a dialogue that I hope to continue.  I am not unfamiliar to debate, having formally debated in community college.  Then and now, I needed to be prepared to argue both sides of the issues.  While the debates were all about winning a round, the ethics of abortion and its great divide of disagreement are more about understanding the core issues behind those arguments.  While both positions can be considered intentional propaganda, “the systematic propagation of information or ideas by an interested party, especially in a tendentious way in order to encourage or instil a particular attitude or response” (OED, 2009), I will not be looking at the propaganda in particular.  Instead, I will be looking at abortion arguments through three ethical approaches:  Purposes, Principles, and Consequences.  Throughout, I will challenge my readers as I challenge myself to refrain from the usage of familiar propaganda terms, “pro-choice” and “pro-life” that are the crude ethical symbolic language that is usually employed as descriptors.  However, be aware that both positions do and will employ propaganda tactics as we have all experienced.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The research process is something that feels very familiar to me. While I am always learning, always searching and seeking, and perpetually digging deeper, not for passages to prove q point, though that is not unfamiliar to me, but to learn, always to learn more. Locke, Silverman, and Spirduso (2010), introduce the idea of researching for a specific purpose, though it seems I have been seeking out information and researching since I was a little.  Researching is a very familiar place.  In some ways, it feels like home, whether it has been within academic primary sources over the last several years or even secondary and general sources for much longer.  Locke, et al go on to indicate that information that look for as academics may be somewhat buried as incidental information within studies that is more observations of the participants regarding particular behavior, or even as secondary sources or study questions.  Again, this kind of research feels very familiar to me, though I obviously need to hone those skills to a sharp point to be affective and effective here at Saybrook and later when I move on to dissertation research and teaching.

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History in the Western Hemisphere, especially the United States is filled with example after example of the upper classes, the rich and wealthy, engaging in social reform of the poor and the lower classes.  But those rich and wealthy, who thought they knew better, passed judgment on those so-called poor and lower classes, and judged them based on their own high society morals.  Very little progressive social reform occurred under those circumstances, except for the limited viewpoints of those impressing their morals on others. Beyond my rant of the legislative and social morality of the present and past, it is indeed refreshing that there are other countries and individuals that are interested in actually helping rather than moralizing to a populace. 

The founder of Childline, Jeroo Billimoria, actively engages in participatory action research (PAR) or action-based community development (ABCD) or a combination of the two to improve the lives of homeless children in India.  This is something I have never seen done in the United States and certainly not in a project of this grand scale. Each time I see an example of humanity and progress such as this, it gives me ideas and hope for the future and how I can actively help people help themselves. Billimoria actively trains, teaches, and employs the children that she has saved and she treats them with humanity and respect.  They have grown up and they help others.  When I was younger, I dreamed and tried to create a self-propelled paddleboat.  This is an example of a well-oiled paddleboat that helps itself by helping others who, in turn, stay to continue helping.  This is what I want to do on some level in some way.  The whole history of Childline is one where trial and error are valued in order to evolve and improve the assistance to the homeless children of India.  Rather than give up when faced with what appeared to be failure, Billimoria learned from her mistakes and worked to improve the manner in which Childline responded and the manner in which it interacted with other agencies.

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McKnight & Kretzmann’s Mapping Community Capacity address an issue that I have puzzled over for many years:  How can the government create an incentive to better one’s life circumstances without creating and perpetuating an environment of unhealthy need and dependence that engenders mere existence and probably hopelessness, to create producers rather than service clients?  Unfortunately, I have observed friends living on public assistance who don’t realize they have skills and creativity to contribute to their community, and I have seen politicians that are not interested in addressing this problem where one group votes to cut benefits and the other group votes to increase benefits.  Neither is interested in the disenfranchised and how to help them.  The disenfranchised are merely pawns for votes or non-votes.  I don’t see hope in the perpetuation of such inequities.

The alternative is an asset-based community development (ABCD) that assesses the knowledge and experience already present in the community, to help people thrive rather than merely survive, to value the skills that are already present in the community rather than concentrate on what is missing.  There is also a more practical reality in this approach:  Most urban communities have no hope of attracting major industries or services that would bring local jobs.  The old saying regarding making lemonade when all you have are lemons is appropriate here.  Use the resources you have and get creative.

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