The Jai road

Last month, we took a trip to one of our favorite nearby hidden treasures. Called Ojai (oh-high) by the Chumash, its original inhabitants for hundreds of pre-Columbian years, this is a resort town tucked away in the mountains above Ventura, just miles from the Central California Coast.  These pictures are from a recent trip we took to Ojai and I had some fun with them.  I have more and will probably discuss Ojai in more depth next week, as I had planned to do today.  The events of last weekend somehow jibed with the atmosphere of Ojai in a unique way, that I will expand upon next time, so I am not mixing apparent apples and pears here.

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By the way, Ojai means “moon” in Chumash.  Not wanting to be too cute, I think the moon is the perfect symbol for what we are all undergoing now, if you have any background in myth, Joseph Campbell, Hermetics, Jungian archetypes, and fairy tales (more on the latter some time — they are not for children, they are the collective wisdom of the eons, preserved in almost parable form).

I’ve been reading a series of books and articles by an interesting scientist, Beck A. Bailey, PhD. She is a child psychologist who has developed (and tested) a theory and set of principles to guide parents in raising babies to adolescents. In the vein of the “conscious discipline” movement,  this employs a careful approach based on love and respect for the child and eliminating most of the both unsuccessful and harmful disciplinary measures of the past 100 years.  This ranges from such outmoded “modern” practices as reward and punishment, time-outs to the now thoroughly discredited methods of corporal punishment, shaming, and intimidation that were considered effective and standard for the past thousand or more years.

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What strikes me as relevant about this well articulated and brilliant approach to managing a child’s behavior, so they win more often than they lose, and the adults in charge keep their sanity and help bring out the best in the children in their care, is how this paradigm can be applied to the serious threats we are facing right now.  Just in the last month alone, attacks on the Russians, Lebanese and French have spotlighted the issue of our clearly unsuccessful strategies for influencing our desired global outcomes of a peaceful, verdant, prosperous world. Along these lines, please take a minute and see the post my good friend here, badfish, put up and listen to the Chaplin speech. It moves one to tears of compassion.

As I said last week, these are sobering times and we need serious thinkers and doers. Bluster, hyperbole, and overblown knee-jerk posturing are not the tools needed for the complicated matters they entail. I have been listening all week long to certain of our leaders who want to “crush” these sociopathic extremists, etc., and bar largely innocent refugees from entering the country. We suddenly developed a robust localized xenophobia in response to what are largely international phenomena. These problems did not arise overnight and they will take a radical change of attitudes and practices on all our parts to resolve, if it isn’t already too late. In America, by the way, we have more to fear from the Visa Waiver program, that allows anyone from hundreds of countries to step on a plane and be here in hours, while the refugee program is a two year extensive vetting process. To date, no refugee on record has launched an attack on American soil. Plenty of “students” have.

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We cannot simply destroy these thugs because they are not a state or even one or two discrete groups. They represent an idea, an ideology and pathology. Some of it is the result of what Thomas Friedman so rightly identified in his book The World is Flat, i.e., a group of young, poor, frustrated men in fifth world countries — many of them in the Middle East and Africa — seeing the bounty of Western countries and feeling utterly hopeless and left behind. Some of it can be laid at the feet of those countries who have solicited immigrants to do the labor that they no longer have their own populace in sufficient numbers and of an age to do and then ghettoize them, keeping them apart, failing to encourage their assimilation. Some of this can be attributed to the earlier hegemonic presence of countries like Great Britain, the United States, and other Europeans in what we once referred to as the Third World.  Places, notably, like South America and Africa whose resources have been plundered for four hundred years, keeping them deliberately underdeveloped and impoverished as a consequence.

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And, let’s decide together. Did the shock-and-awe doctrine deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq work? Where did this particular branch of the movement emanate from in the first place, shall we remember? We are still trying to fight current battles with old strategies and they are failing horribly.

This latest brand of violence and depravity is largely testosterone driven. But, these people believe such barbarity is a reasonable tool to employ in bringing about a mythical apocalypse. They also believe they will be rewarded for killing infidels and Westerners. DAESH and their ilk have a perverted world view and their dedication to it is confounding to reasonable people outside those societies.  Let’s remember, these men come from cultures that are still employing female mutilation, slave labor, selling women and children into bondage, destroying land and polluting the earth for short term profits. They are living in little more than stone age hamlets. What do they see when they view us via our media? What appear to be a group of rich, spoiled, decadent, wanton, simpletons, living in utter luxury, drugged, drunk, and sex obsessed. Take a look at our ads, our sitcoms, our movies, our children’s electronic games. We must place ourselves outside the terrarium and look in, as we would on a zoo population. Am I wrong?

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I have already mentioned that when I lived in SA working on my doctorate, many people asked me if I owned machine guns, if I do cocaine, if I live in a mansion and have a limousine.  Where do you think they got this impression? We pay no attention to how we interact with the rest of the world, how we behave as tourists, how our government has conducted its largely economic affairs, pursued its imperial interests elsewhere on the planet. America may or may not have been as guilty of these aggressive and semi-predatory practices as some other nations, but we have engaged in them covertly, nonetheless.

We are not going to eliminate renegade gangsters by bombing Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan back to an even earlier age, as these people are already living in stone age conditions. That is part of the problem right there. Maybe an approach to them that reflects the sentiments of Rabbi Lerner at Tikkun — read this article — would eventually help resolve these matters and bring these disaffected populations into the modern world in such a way as to quell their hatred against us, whether deserved or not. I did not think the President’s speech in Turkey on Monday showed his lack of will to act.  It showed instead an insider’s understanding of the complexity of the situation and his measured words were meant to give no quarter to these murderers, no fodder for their recruiting propaganda.  The world, these matters, human beings, their psyches are not black and white.  All of this is co-terminus, in my opinion, with the tremendous changes underway since the turn — ironically — of the 21st century, far greater than any of the past few hundred years and packed into a very short time frame.

This does not mean that America and the world have no role to play in stopping these barbarous fanatics. I want to see the Saudis, Kuwaitis and Emiratis step up and do something. Contribute troops if need be, certainly issue whatever warnings they need to and then follow through.  I want to see the good Muslims of the world, including and especially the Imams, intercede so the innocent, whoever they are, will not be punished for what these few cultists are inflicting.

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Just as we who employ best practices, parents and educators alike, no longer clobber children, verbally or physically, emotionally damaging them for life and having them turn on us in adolescence and reflect back to us our lack of understanding and respect for them, when they become teenagers, so we have to stop viewing the rest of humanity as a group of naughty children who must be harshly disciplined, cowed, frightened, intimidated into submission. It doesn’t and never has worked with children. It doesn’t work and never has worked in human history, planet-wide.

Coincidentally, I attended an online photography seminar on Wednesday about being a street photographer. It was so compelling to me because the photographer approaches his work as urban anthropology. He has shot photographs all over the world including in Iraq and Syria during the pitch of the conflicts.  He looks for the marginalized, to try and bring out their humanity.  Artists are usually sensitive people so I can only imagine what it cost him personally to do this.  Yet, he helps us to confront the real nature of people that we in our comfort zones usually ignore.

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The world reflects back to us, ourselves, just as the moon reflects the sun back.  We can promote our dark side or our light. We have that choice.  Many people in the world do not, just as those nascent human beings in our care when they are struggling to become themselves look to us to provide a safe space and wise guidance to bring them to their full development as adults. We in the West who have seen to it that we prosper, must lift the rest of the world up. Then we will rid ourselves of this plague of extreme violence. What we concentrate on, grows. In kind.

Images: Chez BeBe assets: Ojai, California


22 Comments on “The Jai road”

  1. Beth, you’ve written some fairly cool and insightful pieces, but this…this one is just brilliant. I’m going to steal (Ok, maybe I’ll quote you) this line: “The world reflects back to us, ourselves, just as the moon reflects the sun back.” And I don’t ever think I’ve seen anyone use the word “jibed” like that before. Love it. But you’ve got it wrong about mixing apples and pears…you can do that with impunity.

    I like the idea of raising a child like that…I would like to read more on her/ the method…not that I’m going to be raising no children at this late date. But I realized as I read that in Bali, you never see a young child wailing in tantrum the way you do in most places. Bali children, and people, are happy and secure people. They must have read Bailey’s book?

    Oh, and just so you know, the UAE sent troops into Oman to assist there. Thanks for the shoutout! Rave on, girl.

    Liked by 4 people

    • bf, first of all, thank you for the compliments. I liked the photos most, myself.

      Last night I worried that I was sounding like an apologist for terror. Clearly I would never be that, as these people are the worst of the worst. I already know quite a bit about the ME from having studied it in graduate school and their approach to women is deeply disturbing to me (and their mistreatment of animals, too), but we should not be shocked and surprised.

      One thing I learned in SA is that when you have two classes and one of them is really suppressed, impoverished and feeling like there is no light at the end of any tunnel, they will become opportunistically violent. That is why all the homes of the tiny upper classes have huge walls topped with broken glass and hired guns to roam the property, protecting them. That is why they helicopter to the airport and are never driven. That has been the case for decades. We need to wake up here.

      Anyhow, that post of yours was perfect and the Chaplin speech is one I should have remembered. I regret for his sake that he wasn’t born ten years later. What an amazing actor’s voice he had. He might have reached the level of Olivier in talkies, had he just worked in Hollywood a bit later.

      xx peace bro! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, and, I am not surprised about the children of Bali. I knew an anthropologist who did her work about women in Indonesia. She lived for two years with a family in a longhouse and described the constant presence of mothers with their children for the first eight or nine years of life.

      With our working mothers and fathers, who are largely absent, is it any wonder that children act out against their parents and other adults? It is hard to know how to express that you feel abandoned, when you are six months old, so you store it up and release it when you can talk and when you are 16 and feeling a bit more powerful.


      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Jen. This week has been a real wake-up call — as if we haven’t been getting the signals for years, right? I am embarrassed at the political football it has become over here, but I think Americans are truly frightened now. Sigh. Why can’t we all play nice and get along together. You are kind, Jen ❤

      Liked by 2 people

        • Amen, Jen. You can never be too outspoken here. I think we all need to be less politically correct and more honest, even if we make mistakes. At least they will be subjected to sanitising sunlight! 😉

          Liked by 2 people

          • And Beth, with your kind heart and open eyes, you can never be too outspoken in your articles. The world NEEDS more voices like yours – firm but gentle – a mantle I stepped into for decades that seems to have grown tight and restrictive as I begin to approach the landscape of the marathon that leads all too soon to the finish line (with oh-so-little global transformation to cite in a world that seems to have grown harsher and meaner). It makes me angry, and my writing reflects it.

            I especially resonated to this – beautifully languaged: “What do they see when they view us via our media? What appear to be a group of rich, spoiled, decadent, wanton, simpletons, living in utter luxury, drugged, drunk, and sex obsessed. Take a look at our ads, our sitcoms, our movies, our children’s electronic games. We must place ourselves outside the terrarium and look in, as we would on a zoo population.”
            (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
            – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
            “It takes a village to transform a world!”

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, Madelyn! So nice to have you back. I have to run over to “your place” next to see if you have posted. I don’t seem to get your notifications, if so. I’ve missed you! 🙂

              Yes, yes, yes. I am angry too and I don’t want to seem like a haranguing old witch but that is how I feel sometimes.

              We are living in dangerous times. Whereas once these people hardly had a voice, now they are spreading their anger and hatred via the internet and drawing in other angry hateful disenchanted people.

              This thing that happened in San Bernardino came as no surprise to me at all. Right after 9/11 I remarked to Geoffrey that it could happen here. At the time, he thought the likelihood of a suicide bomber or shooter here was remote. Now he agrees with me.

              We have a dual problem. We are the worst and the best of humanity. It has brought us so much good and bad fortune. And, our internal bickering has not helped us or the world.

              I am curious to see what Mr. Obama will be saying. Oops, I think I am missing it. I will be over to see you shortly!

              Hugs — to my ideological twin (another one, as I have several here, including Cole and Robin and Jen and Anne-Marie and Susan and you!).

              Liked by 1 person

            • SEE – your writing is so gracious, Beth, even when speaking of anger and hatred. It seems that all I can do many days is stomp and sputter aloud, ranting and railing at folks who are located elsewhere and can’t hear me.

              Internal bickering? The way Republican politicians have behaved, it seems not so much bickering as grandstanding — deciding together to take their football and go home, trashing the field on their way out. Internal bickering, at least, implies some kind of dialogue.

              Tell me again why the prime directive of an entire political party to shut down all initiatives of a sitting President is not treason?

              See what I mean – I am FURIOUS about what they have done to our country and are doing around the globe. How can they possibly pretend to be surprised when fringe elements of third world nations retaliate with physical violence? NOT that I condone it, simply that I understand where the impulse comes from. (But then, so do they, I’m quite sure – military industrial complex fodder, no doubt. Some government contractor chronie has a kid or two who needs college tuition?)

              Enough said – too much, actually. I’m going to calm myself with a sappy Christmas movie from Hulu before putting myself to bed! My apologies.



            • Believe me, Madelyn, the way you described it is exactly the way I see it too.

              I don’t know what to make of it and I have tried to imagine what kind of personality condones this behavior.

              President Obama has to be fed up. I am sure he and his family are counting the days when he and they can take their amazing talents to another arena where they will be appreciated and rewarded appropriately.

              Among the things he did for us was save the world from financial collapse. He rarely gets the credit for that alone, that he deserves.

              One reason that all this has gone on is the dishonest faux-media found largely on the internet and talk radio, spreading lies and hate. People who are not discriminating believe these false “reports”, no matter how ridiculous and outrageous. They seem not to know that these are lies and that a man who fit the description that the purveyors of slander are spreading could never have risen to become a Senator, much less President.

              But they are also the kind of people whose personalities are prone to believing bad things about him and us, the progressive people in the world. I see this in the treatment of my husband and myself in his family, who are all (save one couple) tea partiers — rich ones. I blame it on the ignorance with which they were raised by a woman with no understanding of child development and a great deal of animus and insecurity.

              Nonetheless, knowing what causes this does not make it any easier to deal with, writ large in society. Just the disaster of the Iraq war is enough to make me furious at them. Let alone their selfishness in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and now their willingness to elect a demagogue like Trump or an incompetent like Carson.

              Believe me, it takes all my higher angels to keep from lashing out, especially since I know that things could be so much better for everyone if saner, nicer people were in the clear majority here. Sigh!


  2. I am not sure how my Dad managed to get out of his childhood situation which was more neglectful and distracted than cruel. He learned through not having much attention and working hard j ow to be a hands on father. He did diapers, bsths, played, read and built things for us. Mom was his ideal eoman, recognized her Maureen O’Gara look and spunk. They raised us as having confidence and equality, family table discussions and debates, “working” for head start and becoming individually compassionate. My Mom’s parents fully embraced America as immigrants and both were educated on interesting ways. I practiced what they preached and found only two superintendents and one ompassionate principal in a “patched together” career. I lived as a babysitter for 9 summers and 7 years of being at home as a single parent. I raised good kids but not ones who were spoiled by things and only through love and not discipline. The students, the babysitting clients are grown and I know they still ” love me.” I sat, Summer of 2015, at the “parents” table at a formal wedding of a “boy” who was 3 when I started watching him, 11 when he was watched by my oldest after school. I lived this article, Beth. 🙂
    Last thing, loved your examples of books, experts and poor Charlie Chaplin. Hard to fight some groups who wish we could go back in time. Misogynism, prejudice, hate and inequality existed but mass murders didn’t “exist.” Going to be hard to convince those who have “control” ingrained into their being to “love unconditionally” their children. ** Giving up possessions and spending time camping was a really great and easy way to plants “seeds of goodness” and respect, in my kids, when my parents became grandparents. ♡♡

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think good parents, grandparents, etc., all knew instinctively how to do this right. The problem, of course, is they were and are, few and far between.

      When I counsel parents, I suggest they study child development properly — maybe a crash course when they get pregnant. Nine months is enough time to educate oneself about the human being entrusted to us. But sadly, people devote more time to choosing a computer than to learning about children — other than from websites, which will not suffice, imho.

      We are sympathetic souls Robin and so we both feel the same way about hatefulness. It baffles me. Spoiled, self-absorbed, hair-trigger people baffle me too. I have met them everywhere, including here. I want no part of them any longer. I want to surround myself for the rest of my life with kind, good-hearted people. But I will still speak out and try to help those who are emotionally handicapped, if they want that help.

      As for you, yourself Robin, I am not surprised that you are a great parent and grandparent, and had great parents and grandparents. Look how sunny and good you are. I have never seen a harsh word or thought, or selfish act or post on your blog.

      Just reading it, gives me hope. xx

      Liked by 2 people

      • This was such a great and warm ♡ reception to possibly comments which may come across judgmental of those who didn’t try to respect their children. When my Dad apologized once that was memorable he asked me, his kid, if I would for give him for being short tempered. Fortunately, I was a parent of 2 over twenty years old’s before he died so I was able to say that I learned how hard parenting was. Along with, it wasn’t easy raising kids and thanked him for showing when I do make a mistake that the right thing to do is apologize. I think less men understand this vulnerable position than women, Beth. I am glad you find things in common between us. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • My dad has never once apologized to anyone for being outspoken and authoritarian, as far as I know. My mother apologizes all the time. I guess they balance each other out! Good that you and your dad had open and caring communication, when you did. If only we all strove for that!

          Liked by 1 person

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