Archive | Social Change

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To My Fellow Midwesterners

    I’m a Midwesterner. It’s been a long time since I left, but I’m still a Chicagoan—from Carl Sandburg’s “Hog-butcher of the World” Chicago. The Chicago of my day was the rail center that brought the farm to market. Though I was born, raised, educated, and married there, my roots are in the small […]

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Words Change Us

I’ve talked before about how shifts in the language have changed the political climate. How, when “opponent” became “enemy,” “debate” became “battle,” and “compromise” was called “selling out” politics went to war. Our minds followed the words, and the climate soured; war words became an accurate description of political life—except to those of us who […]

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Respect

  In my last blog, I talked about the power of respect, the effect that being respected as a woman had in my own life as well as the cruelty of mockery and belittlement. In writing it, I realized how central respect is to our democracy. In How Democracies Die, Levitsky and Ziblatt call lack […]

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On Being a Woman—a Long View

I go back a long way. I came of age before anyone questioned the role of women. I welcomed marriage and looked forward to motherhood, delayed until my husband finished graduate school. I believed that my role was the easier one, and one I was trained and well prepared for. It was the men who […]

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Hyper-Individualism and Higher Education

    I talked in my last blog about the degeneration of civic education in our high schools and the consequent absence of any sense of obligation to the community in my college students. The primacy of hyper-individualism has affected—or infected—our higher education institutions as well. I lived most of my adult life either in […]

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Spreading the Word

    I’ve been writing about the political and social crisis in America for months, and the inevitable question becomes louder and louder in my head. And in yours too, I suspect. What do we do about it? My only answer has been—Write! My gratitude to those who have responded to my blogs, for language […]

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Sixties war protest

Progress and Progressives

Looking back through my lifetime (which is long), the Progressives of today are the age my grandchildren would be. And that’s using the traditional definition of “generation,” not social science’s current definition, which names a new generation every ten or twelve years. Indeed, the younger Progressives are the age of my “would-be” great-grandchildren. That tells […]

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heartland

Fear, the Achilles Heel of the Midwest

My oldest friend with whom I’ve shared a house for almost thirty years was born and raised in Nebraska and insists I’m an Easterner. I’m not. Despite being raised in the community around a university that nicknames itself “Harvard of the West,” I don’t want to be. My mother comes from the prairies of Iowa […]

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Chicago Poems

On Being American

I’ve just opened Wallace Stegner’s Marking the Sparrow’s Fall, a collection of essays published by Stegner’s son after the author’s death. It’s been on my bookshelf for a long time, but never picked up for unknown reasons. In the opening essay, “Child of the Far Frontier,” Stegner writes of the power of certain images, smells, […]

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Individual Versus Community

  If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, is that isolation is bad for the human soul. Maybe it has also shown us that our need for community, for others, is both vital and powerful—as much to our self-interest as to our individual aspirations. As an ageing woman with lousy hearing, I fight the […]

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Changing Racial Attitudes

  I ended the last blog by saying that the current race movement is carrying the country toward extremism and further and further from changing racial attitudes. Radical positions like condemning whole civilizations may sound noble, but it accomplishes nothing—except ridicule, perhaps. Consciousness-raising, making America aware that it has a race problem, has been going […]

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Racism and Fear

But allow the power of the internet to fall into the hands of those who deliberately heat fear into hatred, prejudice into racism, and we’ll move further and further from the kind of attitude change we seek.

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