An Acute Need for Cultural Reform

Although the polls are currently indicating a solid victory for Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, and a major improvement of her party’s representation in Congress, there’s no doubt that no matter the outcome, the nation will remain steeped in the tawdry election’s aftermath for who knows how long.

This does not bode well. To this observer, the real heavy lifting will come not by way of the impossibly bombastic electoral campaign route, including the recent period’s avalanches of off-putting money pitches, but by elevating a more enduring commitment to constructive and refreshing cultural changes.

Here are some benchmarks where progress in this effort can be made toward a genuinely kinder and gentler America in the coming period, although not without a real and enduring fight:
First, this election campaign, if nothing else, has raised again the whole issue of respect and equality among genders. This, not coincidentally associated with the election of the first woman president in U.S. history, is in my view the single most important cultural issue of this or any time, for that matter.

Male chauvinist attitudes and institutional constructs have been the source of most of the world’s woes, including military exploits rooted in the pursuit of territorial and resource dominion. This grows from autocratic dominion over subservient spouses and children and their objectification as chattel. There was a strong feminist component to the American revolution derived from the most progressive thinking of the Paris-based Enlightenment which saw critical progress in the overthrow of male chauvinist entitlements associated with monarchy, such as the “God given” right of a king to pass on his rule to a (preferably) male offspring with no regard for qualifications.

So, the very idea of democracy is anti-male chauvinist, and the stark contrast between the disgusting degradation of women exemplified by Donald Trump versus the feminist values and very embodiment of self of Hillary Clinton paint a clear contrast of alternatives for the American people going forward.

Second, one of the most egregious excesses of post-Reagan American culture has been the rise of the dangerous collision sport of football at all levels from pee-wee to the pros. The very thought of hundreds, if not thousands, of venues packed every weekend with rowdy “fans” taking almost an entire day with pre-game and post-game rituals surrounding an event parodying a military conflict, with the men doing the fighting and the women doing the cheering, is frankly obscene. At minimum, it is a terrible waste of time and beyond that reinforces much of what is wrong with our culture.

Now, as this baseball afficionado laments this year’s soon-to-be concluded season of what used to be the “national pastime,” there is a growing movement of parents and other sane persons against the gladiator sport of football in reaction to the growing evidence of the terrible brain damage, far more widespread and permanently debilitating than earlier thought, that it inflicts on so many of its players.

Only one year of playing pee-wee football, for example, can cripple a child with permanent “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE), according to a new study reported in the Journal of Radiology. CNN’s Michaela Pereira featured the mother whose child played football through high school and committed suicide at age 32, subsequently determined to have suffered from CTE.

Karen Kinzle has formed the CTE Awareness Foundation with its website, to raise public awareness, including to the gradual onset of the disease and its symptoms of quick temper, confusion, memory loss, anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns, reclusiveness and suicidal tendencies, among others.

Third, uh oh, the parents are watching! This may become the most radical influence of all for cultural reform rooted in a compassionate notion of our common planetary humanity. It’s the evidence that scientists are weighing that the “strange modulations in a tiny set of stars,” as E. F. Borra and E. Trottier report in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, may turn out to be definitive proof that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists.

“Breakthrough Listen,” an alien life search initiative supported by Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg among others, calls this extraordinary development “promising.”