Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Culture, criticism, and power dynamics

Yesterday I wrote about the military child, particularly military daughters. I referenced Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress. I don't know if you clicked on the link, if you read the blurb. Two sentences stand out to me:
Wertsch employs extensive research to probe the consequences—both positive and negative—of being raised in a family characterized by rigid discipline, nomadic rootlessness, dedication to military mission, and the threat of war and personal loss. With its clear-eyed, sometimes shocking depictions of alcoholism and domestic violence, and its empathy for military parents caught up in an extremely demanding way of life, Military Brats provides catharsis, insight, and a path toward healing.

Last week I wrote about the Power of Children, how so much of modern history traces back to World War II. I pondered how we can stop hate and genocide from happening. Lao Tse had something to say about that, 2500 years ago, connecting wars among nations to violence in the home, and conversely peace at home leading to peace among the nations.

It's worth making note of the available information on dynamics of abuse and control. This can be extended outward, to consider the power dynamics in faith communities, and sometimes in political communities.

This post by Tim Chevalier about toxic masculinity makes connections between broken people and tech industry culture, just as I think Mary Wertsch has connected a level of brokenness to military culture.

I am also influenced by having read this GeekFeminism post, "I think I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship… with the tech community" to draw connections between the GF Wiki list of Silencing Tactics and the Violence Wheel. None of this is new territory.

The links above are just a few of the ways #AbuserDynamics have been discussed among the Diversity-and-Inclusion-in-STEM and overall social justice communities.

Much of my own relationship with the U.S. government has been from a "Let's focus on the worthwhile parts" approach, trying to work with and build up what I see as good. At the same time, I see "If you're not with us, you're against us" as a major red flag.

I know my recent posts have leaned more "right," in support of *having* a military as opposed to banishing it altogether. Yet often what I hear from the "Right" is this concept that our nation can do no wrong. That criticizing the nation, or criticizing the President, are not to be tolerated. I saw a meme that quoted James Baldwin: " I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." 

That speaks to me. Well, the meme left off "perpetually." Last week I also connected to this Atlantic article, that discusses how we *need* to discuss and question military funding, assess the tradeoffs and value of new military projects.

This week, I'll also draw the connection to the last year+ of police violence in the news. 

My family of origin, between the Air Force and Roman Catholicism, was authoritarian, to the extent that we didn't watch movies that encouraged disrespect (no Ferris Bueller, School of Rock, or Dead Poet's Society). Military culture has always had to balance "obedience to orders" with independent actions toward a common goal, The Starfish and the Spider.  

From the outside, I think I see similarities and parallels between Military and Police culture in this regard.