Glimpsing the future

Word Press is constantly changing.  So is Flickr.  Some of these tweaks are improvements and others have just been silly and annoying.  This week, WP tells me that you, my treasured community, like it best when I post on Fridays at 9 am Pacific time.  OK! I hear you and your wish is my command.  Given that a better post might materialize if I put it up whenever the spirit moves me instead of a preset time, I hope you will all indulge me when these blatherings are rather rough and spontaneous, as this one will likely be. This will be an interesting experiment, if nothing else. 😀

17863583904_1f2e6535f6_h Underwood House

I could have titled this post: Forward to the past.  I might have already used that in an earlier essay here — I don’t recall.

For almost two years I have thought about defining a so-called “Progressive“.  For those of you in the US, this will be a familiar term.  Elsewhere, you all have differing names or titles for this sociopolitical approach and will have to translate it to local terms. Personally, as I have stated somewhere along the way, I don’t like labels, categories, pigeon-holes of any kind.  There are 7 billion+ people on earth and each of us is unique.

But, as a behavioral scientist, I have learned to take qualitative data and quantitate it so I can be temporarily comfortable suspending my philosophy here and considering the idea of progressivism for the purposes of an intellectual exercise.  And, I hope I don’t become abstruse and abstract in the process.

Let me start off by saying, first and foremost, I do not want to be lied to by the media and its talking heads, any politician or public figure, or anyone from our governments, at any level, and I will not allow myself to be influenced by dissembling and misrepresentations.  To me truth with all its warts is the foundation for progressive doctrines.

Each week’s news brings examples of the future society in which we will all live, so all I need do is cover one seven-day sample and that will define progressive tenets along with what I believe is ahead for all of us.

Yesterday, a Presidential candidate gave a ground-breaking speech on voting rights at Texas Southern University.  They named each governor, many of whom are now Presidential hopefuls, who has enacted severe voting restrictions aimed at limiting the citizens’ ability to cast a vote. The very fact that in the 21st century we have to debate the issue of allowing every adult in this country to vote is appalling to me.  In the future, it will be one person one vote, just the way it is in the overwhelming majority of civilized democracies. Oregon has pioneered the motor/voter law that was originated in DC.  Every citizen over the age of 18 is automatically registered to vote at the local DMV.  The premise is that the government has a role to play in facilitating the vote in a healthy democracy. There was a  true democracy in our country just 50 years ago.  So, we know what it looks like. Progress is returning to that notion and enfranchising everyone. The diabolical traps and tricks that some states have slipped into the election process are backward and bigoted.  Too bad if a handful of billionaires and corporations are afraid of giving each citizen a powerful stake in our own lives.  Your plutocratic days are numbered.


California is finally cracking down on agricultural water consumption.  It is not that farmers, who supply the world with the Golden State’s bounty, should be punished or unfairly limited, it is that big agribusiness companies should not be given a free pass on necessary curtailment of wasted water.  Similarly, we should not be allowing unrestricted access to ground water and subterranean aquifers, simply because we have always done so. Doesn’t anyone remember the Dust Bowl? That had to be corrected and it was.  We need to go back to that policy, nation-wide and particularly in drought-stricken regions.  We know it can be done.  The future means prudent husbandry of limited resources so they are not squandered in the name of unreasonable profit.

Retraining our “peace force” to engage in the community they serve, wear body cameras, resist the reflex to reach for a firearm, and develop a direct relationship with all the people they are to protect is on the horizon again, along with increased funds to make this possible.  Police driving around town in military-style SWAT gear, patrolling behind dark windows of armored vehicles is not the way to do this.  If we look to Britain for example, we see a country with a far lower arrest and incarceration rate than ours along with far less violent crime.  It can be done.  It is not a new idea, it is an old one that has been successful through all kinds of demographic changes in other civilized nations. Our grandparents knew the ‘cop on the beat‘. Our prison-industrial complex and cost of maintaining millions of people in these airless concrete vaults is backward and dysfunctional. As is the practice of state-sponsored capital punishment. In the not too distant future, we will rid this country of for-profit private prisons, paid for with our taxpayers dollars. Humane incarceration and abolishing the death penalty is on the horizon, even in such conservative states as Nebraska, poised to pass an astonishing law banning the latter.


A broad understanding and general acceptance of gender diversity is an idea whose time has come, at last, in America.  I say, let’s let people style themselves as they wish and be respected for it. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Caitlyn Jenner’s public transition will be drawing back the curtain on what it really means to be female in our country even today.  It isn’t easy! And anyone who has experimented with switching roles, knows that women are treated differently from birth.  While it is nice to enjoy the creativity and artistry that can come with being feminine (and something I personally celebrate every single day), there is a downside to being objectified through appearance, to feeling vulnerable to power manipulation that male physical strength advantages impart, to having one’s ideas and analyses ignored, and being paid three-quarters of what our counterparts are paid for the same productivity. But gender equality is also the future here.

The camps are further dividing in this country on the settled issue of climate change and planetary warming.  As all of you who read this blog know, I am staunchly in the camp of the peer-reviewed, highly respected, thoroughly trained, ethically responsible scientific community that states unequivocally — and backs these declarations with sound empirical research — the climate is warming, globally, and it is now overwhelmingly caused by human activities.  If man broke it, s/he can fix it.  But first we have to own it. This goes back to my ongoing discussions here and on other social media sites, about philosophy vs fact.  I have no problem with the intricate mental embellishments of ideological pondering.  The adventure that ensues when creative minds get together in thought journeys is appealing on many levels.  But, when the coasts are being swallowed by oceans, cities flooded by rivers, sea creatures cooking in acidic hot waters, dirty volatile fossil fuels seeping into our aquifers and exploding on the doorsteps of nuclear missile silos, I can’t condone sitting around playing mind games.  We have to act.


At one time, people understood their environments.  Our Native Americans did and had a balanced relationship with nature.  People like Rachel Carson sounded the alarm.  And further to that notion, you can reach back to Teddy Roosevelt at the beginning of the last century to prove to yourself that cautious conservation of our precious earth is not a new idea.   But, it is the future.  Without it, we will have no pollinators and thus no fruits and vegetables.  We will stop tormenting and torturing sentient beings in the concentration camps that are euphemistically referred to as factory “farms”, hidden out of sight of the ordinary citizen and staffed by impoverished immigrants desperate for work.  These inhumane plants of torture should be beneath the dignity of every American.  I can say with complete confidence the future is veganism, if the fossil fuel industry doesn’t destroy our farmland first.  I have been a vegetarian for over three decades and a vegan for ten years. You will have to take my word for it — I am thriving on and enjoying delicious, healthy, cruelty-free food every single day. I truly use food as medicine and that has saved me a ton of money over many years.

Along these same lines, we will employ biodynamic farming practices nationwide. Is this a new idea? It is over 100 years old and in practice all over the world. It works, it is responsible agriculture and the only people who resist it are the Monsanto/Conagra crowd. And why? Because it is such a bad idea for the 7 billion +? To the contrary, it is to take a few pennies off the trillions of dollars being vacuumed up by irresponsible, runaway corporate greed.  Doing away with the “meat” industry, farming without pesticides, returning to family-run agriculture, favoring alternative forms of energy such as wind and solar, will not only save this planet from destruction but will feed the hungry, worldwide.  It is easy for comfortable westerners to ignore those starving and doing without clean drinking water.  But that is an antediluvian attitude and eventually will be considered as vestigial and depraved as tossing 12th century babies back and forth between buildings. Or bleeding people to cure them.  Or burning women at the stake for being clever. Or slavery.

18413397072_fbc72ef87f_h Corbett Building

Although I love our Senator from Vermont, there is one point on which he and I strongly disagree.  He does not stand up to the NRA. We cannot condone an overly armed populace in the future.  That libertarian idea is reckless and retrograde.  The world is not the wild frontier it once was.  We are crowded and as such, our natural human combativeness and selfishness cannot be litigated at the end of a barrel.  There are gun-restricting places with far lower crime rates.  I personally see no sport, bravery, or pleasure in shooting anyone, human or otherwise.  I love archery and target practice and I see the beauty in old and lovingly made artifacts. But weapons are meant to hurt, and I don’t believe in deliberately hurting for fun.  I do understand self-defense. But our Founding Fathers, whose Constitution was a child of its times and has been altered and updated to reflect progress and new conditions (robust and flexible, magnificent instrument that it is), did not mean to have gun-happy renegades parading their ersatz manhood amid our kindergartners in our urban areas. Every reasonable person on earth understands this.  I am sorry Rand Paul, but your dad’s false freedom cries are the gasps of an earlier age.  Healthy adults do not need to threaten people. They have no place in a civilized future where we need rational limitations on human urges or we cannot be an orderly society.  More people, more crowding, fewer resources means more sane rules, less corruption, less fibbing about the facts, less runaway profiteering by manufacturers, more responsible, prudent, cautious, reasoned, behavior is mandatory. Accepting life as it is, not as we wish it to be or long for from an earlier and over-idealized, uber-caricatured mythology has to be the rule. Liberty is not license, it comes with responsibility.  And if we as individuals cannot be counted on to control ourselves, we need to have it imposed in a fair and firm way by a system of laws, not vigilantism, upon which we all agree, as thinking and caring beings.

And lastly and perhaps most delicately: progress means not inserting your spiritual ideology into public policy. Anyone molesting a child, sexually or otherwise, is committing a crime and must be processed through the courts, whether juvenile or adult. And as a child psychologist I advocate against any statute of limitations on child abuse. Refusing a marriage certificate to an eligible couple based on your own personal beliefs is wrong and should be illegal.  We are a nation of civil laws, first, and must govern according to the Constitution.  No individual’s idiosyncratic belief system will be permitted to trump the law in future civilization.


I could probably write an encyclopedia on what it means to be progressive.  I don’t need to.  It simply boils down to progress.  And progress is the outcome of human invention to solve problems so we can all live a happy, peaceful, healthy life, side by side.  This includes leveling the playing field so there is true racial, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic parity. It means providing universal pre-kindergarten education to every eligible child and a living wage for their parents. Scandinavia has been doing these things for decades and now enjoys the highest standard and quality of life on the planet. It was Roosevelt who clearly understood the balance that must exist between the people and the powerful.  Lincoln understood it. Eisenhower did too. Somehow this country went off the rails thereafter. But not forever. People will work hard when the system seems fair, but will eventually revolt when the rules are unevenly applied and those at the top get all the breaks.

It matters little to me what political affiliation any of us has.  I am for progress.  I am for accepting what is and supporting it so I am not holding back anyone.  And like most responsible people, I do not sleep easily at night knowing there are others suffering, no matter their species or nationality or circumstances. Resolving just that issue alone would be my “happily ever after“.

To me all of this is the essence of being progressive. I simply chose long ago to face in the direction the horse is traveling.

Images: Beth Byrnes/Santa Paula




31 Comments on “Glimpsing the future”

  1. I agree with so much you talked about, Beth. I think everyone deserves the right to vote if they are an American citizen. I had grandparents who were so proud of their Natualization papers and Right to Vote. I also feel Oregon’s idea would make this easier. Just enroll everyone and hope for the best in their ability to show up to the voting polls.
    I live in a Republican community, but like my friends who are progressive and modern in their thinking, whether or not they are Democratic as I am. I wish that some of them did not care about marriage for all, I mean Love not Hate should send a powerful message and we are slowly getting all the states to follow this practice.
    I had lunch with a friend who is dismayed about her nephews politics and comments. She annoyed me, but since it was our birthday celebration of her becoming 60 I did not remind her that she could say something. It doesn’t mean he will change but she, as a past teacher, may hold some ‘weight’ on his thoughts. He still feels there was no evolution and the Earth was created by God in 7 days. He was also saying people need to go back ‘to where they belong.’ I would not tolerate these words, without at least a few chosen carefully words passed on to him. I was raised in an open family, so cannot understand why she hesitated to tell her Dad he should take down his road side signs declaring The Common Core an abomination. Her mother, God Rest Her Soul, is a deceased teacher. She would have supported Common Core, standardized testing. I would say something to him or take them all down!
    My Grandpa met my Grandma in the late 1920’s passing out Socialistic pamphlets on a street corner in NYC. He was from Sweden, she was from Germany. Why in the world, so many years since then, do people ‘buck’ with the idea of sharing with your neighbors and having children receive equal education, meals and providing a wage which will allow family pride?
    Also, the Swedish roots, as you mentioned Scandinavia, included less medicine, more healthy food choices and good exercise programs.
    I am for Progress and it is not too late to move forward TOGETHER!


  2. When I said I wish they would not care who gets married I meant I wish they would come to the conclusion that all should be allowed to marry. (Must be end of day fuzziness of the brain.) I wish they would SUPPORT marriage for all and not care who is choosing to do so, Beth.


    • I understood your meaning, dear Robin — no worries. 🙂

      Sigh, sigh, sigh. I don’t understand why some people are trying to drag us back to the past. Again, it is that fear of change and a certain mean streak that I think we should be bigger than.

      I was raised by Irish and English parents and neither of them, nor my grandparents, have or had an intolerant or mean-spirited or selfish bone. It makes a big difference what your early life was like and the message you heard.

      My family instilled such gratitude in me. I get angry sometimes but I try never to lash out at anyone. If I don’t understand someone, I try to ask them questions and see what their reasoning is. But, hurting anyone or anything, greed, selfishness, meanness, cruelty are just intolerable to me.

      I do think the progressive values that you and I have are harbingers of our society in the future and increasingly so. Despite this strange 40 years in the thrall of trickle-down everything and what I see as stinginess, we will come out of it because the small group of people who are clinging to an old idea of life are becoming older and fewer. They are going to be greatly outnumbered.

      The millennials are a much more open-minded tolerant group. I cannot wait for them to take over!

      Thank you so much Robin — I am looking forward to your next post with anticipation … ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like how you describe your parents and grandparents, Beth. My Dad’s side was a combination of English and Scottish. He always told us to ‘side’ with the Irish, since he felt they were the most downtrodden over in that part of the world. Smiles! He didn’t really like the idea of being English, since he felt that his parents were Americans. (They did not come over on the Mayflower, but they had been here a long time.) He liked my Mom’s parents and their generosity, which he adopted many of my Mom’s philosophies and tried so hard to please her Dad since his Dad was gone by the time he had been married a couple of years.
        The millennials are open-minded but you mentioned the in-between group who were kind of self-absorbed and may not been proactive enough. My own children are giving and loving, so I have hope and they will all three be in their 30’s this year. I stopped by to read your generous and kind comments on my ramblings. You start great conversations, Beth! xo


        • I agree about the Irish and actually, the Scots too, but the Celtic Irish seem to have taken the tyranny to heart and suffered more.

          My parents’ parents were born in the UK, so the connection for us is still strong. I love the English, but they are concerned about a certain set of rules of behavior all the time. I spent a semester in London and ran into all the judgment the Brits have of Americans, so it was a baptism by fire, even though I knew and observed a lot of those “rules” by having grown up with my parents!

          Thank you for keeping this conversation alive, Robin. You are a doll!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth, SO much here to digest and reply to. I’m brain dead at the moment, but I definitely will dive in tomorrow morning – promise. So glad you tackle these head on. I think I’ll need to pick and choose two or three or I might go bonkers. Going to relax with my kitty now and try my best not to think about any of this. 0-0


    • Susan, your thoughts are always insightful and valuable, but for heaven sake, you don’t have to comment. Just your stopping by and saying “Hi” is a treat for me. Rest!! 🙂


  4. Nice post, Beth–I’ve taken recently to defining myself as “progressive” rather than the somewhat nebulous “liberal”–though:”libertine” is acceptable, if digressive. I’m sick of the old battle lines, and take every opportunity to sell those foolish enough to engage me with the old Bull Moose Progressive spiel of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s not perfect, but I like the spirit, and real change is going to take strong-minded, independent leaders (in the true sense of the word), who are willing to buck the machine politics of major parties, their fevered media cheerleaders, the loud-mouthed opportunists who feed off division rather than suggesting solutions, and the sheep-like majority who graze dazedly from one numbing distraction to the next. Folks like the Roosevelts could blaze their own path because they’re rich, but our wealthy today embrace politics not to serve, but to reap more wealth and influence. Who will lead us?

    And, small point, as an aside: I think you’ll find a lot of black folks who might argue about your assertion that we had true democracy 50 years ago. I know what you’re saying, but the careful exclusion of voters who might tilt the boat is a long and rich American tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made a lot of great points, better than I could have. You really have summarized our current situation succinctly. I never considered myself a liberal because it sounds loose and wanton to me and that doesn’t fit my personality. I am much too deliberative and cautious to be a liberal. Progressive is the best term so far and who knows if a better one doesn’t come along?

      As for the issue of democracy and its timing, I guess what I mean is that in the 1960s people were fed up and started to revolt, to make their voices heard, to object to the Vietnam war and force the war mongers to shut it down.

      Women and minorities are still being marginalized in every way possible. It is so transparent that I wonder at the intelligence of the American people who are allowing and even abetting it. But I think now, African Americans refuse to be cowed. There has been so much benefit to seeing people like Obama, Booker, Patrick, among many others, rise to positions of power and reveal their superior intellect and managerial skills, that as a whole, the population that defines themselves as A-Americans will never again willing accept discrimination. One hundred years from now, this time period will be seen for what it is, the roil that accompanies the dying gasps or the oppressive minority of aging Anglos.

      I am really hopeful. I just have to keep calm while we go through this difficult, but final, transition.

      Please feel free to tell me if you think something else is afoot.

      And thank you for reading this long post! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. #1 – given the lack of usefulness of the WordPress “continuous improvements” (that aren’t!), if they suggest it I’d be more likely to embrace the opposite. I think they don’t write – and they certainly don’t read – much of anything beyond a “beep-beep-boop” soundbite.

    For blogs like yours – where the articles are long and full-featured – trying to predict when the majority of “your community” is most likely to have time to read them is just plain stupid!

    My apologies for the length of time it always seems to take me to get around the blog-o-sphere to get over here – but I hope it makes you feel better to read that I am always certain that it will be WELL WORTH my time whenever I can manage it – even when I can’t add much to the discussion beyond GOOD JOB (like today).

    If there were “like” buttons on snippets (as on the truly dreadful FaceBook format), I’d wear out my forefinger clicking like – I agree with easily 99% of what you write (maybe even 100!)

    ANYWAY, hate to pin and run, but the day is moving faster than I am, to my everlasting consternation.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


    • LOL, thank you Madelyn!

      I think the experiment was mixed. I prefer posting at 5 am to 9 am and don’t think it made a bit of difference. Fridays do seem to be a good day for me and everyone else. I think I will stick to my own schedule, WP bots aside.

      Thank you for reading this. It was mostly to demonstrate that progressive ideals are largely common sense and kindness!

      I appreciate the generous words of support, too.

      Have a wonderful, busy, joyous week!


      Liked by 1 person

      • 5 A??????!!! I may have said this before, but we’d be ideal adult roomies – we’d each have the digs to ourselves most of the time (but only if we were both straight, of course – sleeping together would be unlikely – lol).

        When I’m awake and ABLE to post at 5 AM it’s only because I haven’t gone to bed yet. I don’t think I’ve EVER awakened at 5 AM in my life (unless it was to sleepwalk to the bathroom and back).

        Ah yes, kindness – the most important flavor of love. Much of the world (and waaay too much of America) could use a refresher course on kindness, or so it seems to me. They ALL can’t have skipped kindergarten, can they? (Isn’t that where the value of sharing is taught to most of us? )

        I’m not sure common sense can be taught, however!



        • Uh, yeah, 5 am. I get up every day of the year at 4 am.

          Remember the line from Bonfire of the Vanities: “Why can’t we just be decent to one another?”

          I am removing from my life anyone who can’t do that. It is little enough to ask in this complicated world.



          • Great idea, that “removing” – I’m with you there (finally! – amazing how many years it has taken me to feel entitled to actually DO that – without feeling guilty about it).

            Re: R&R (from another of your comments), I get the 8 hours of sleep I need to function almost every single day — just not on the same schedule with those who don’t share my particular sleep disorder (DSPS/N-24).

            It’s not a contest — if we could ALL simply accept the reality of different folks/different strokes, together we’d have the world in hand 24/7!

            xx, mgh


      • Another thing we share is the love of our fur-babies, that most non-pet owners simply can’t understand or appreciate.

        Tabitha, my last Shih Tzu (who was the color of a tabby cat in puppihood) lived for 19 years, so it has been some time since I’ve been around puppy antics. We’re having a ball (and I’m totally in love with this smart little boy).


  6. Beth…well you do seem to like to get deep into things. And with an erudite air. And I love the photos. The one of the truck, especially. I’m not certain I agree with anyone who says a particular time is the best to publish. Maybe only because I myself don’t have a usual time to sit and read…it happens when it happens, when I have time, inclination, coffee. Same with my writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine they somehow have an algorithm that simply calculates the most views on average. I knew it was Fridays but not 9 am. I am going to just post when I post. I usually do it in the morning when my mind is clear enough to catch typos!

      Blogging has different goals for different people. For me, it is to get my thoughts down on paper somewhere and have people give me feedback on them.

      Thanks for reading all this and taking the time to comment. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have never really learned how to understand all that stuff on Stats page. And SEO…forget it. I know I must be missing a good deal about blogging, but just never took (had) time to understand it. AND, I travel, or live on the other side of the world, so time is really relative.

        Liked by 1 person

        • There is apparently a science to blogging “successfully” but, like you, I don’t have a lot of spare time to figure it out. I am of the “build it and they will come” mindset. Your living on the other side of the world, makes your doing this all the more impressive!! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

            • I used to say exactly that about watching TV–who has the time. I’m making time for blogging. Still, it’s a crunch posting once a week (and commenting). But such a kick…getting inside so many people’s heads.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Do you hate that really? Because for me…I’d like to be more of a persistent kind of guy, but I get tired of things, want to move on, or if not bored, find something more interesting. I wish I’d have found blogging sooner, because it’s interesting, dynamic, fun, and you get to meet new people you’d never meet otherwise…and I am actually sitting and writing (at least once a week).

              Liked by 1 person

            • I truly don’t like starting and stopping things, but what happens to me is, I go whole-hog into something for years and then suddenly, it’s over and I drop it for years. I am not crazy about that tendency, but that is what inevitably happens. So I try now to take it more slowly and not get carried away, so I can sustain the activity and not waste my time investment. 😀

              Liked by 1 person

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