November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Politics/An Informed Citizenry

When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

… you can always try education

By James Palombo


This edition has to do with a project I’ve found myself involved with here in Mexico. Interestingly however, the project is not really about Mexico. In fact it is about our country and what can be perceived as our ‘civic depression.’ In order to clarify what has transpired in a  simple way, I offer the following article that will appear in the April 8 print of San Miguel de Allende’s Atencion newspaper. It explains to some extent the how and why of what’s happening. I should also add that San Miguel has a relatively large ex-pat community which helps explain the implied interest. After reading the article, I trust you will then proceed to our new website — www.cicorg.com — which, as indicated in the article, references more of the substance of what is actually at point.

As always, the hope is that you will read through what is presented, think on it a bit, and then offer some thoughts/observations of your own. And certainly, should you wish to be more involved in what we perceive as a significant (albeit small and grass-roots) effort, then by all means let us know. After all, we cannot escape the fact that despite our differences regarding the American experiment, we are all in this together.

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CIC Launches in San Miguel

By Frank J. Gaydos

In November of 2010, James Palombo presented a discussion at the Literary Sala based on his last book, “Criminal to Critic: Reflections Amid the American Experiment” (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers). The book relates his experiences as he transitions from criminal and convict to social worker, professor, world traveler and writer. In the context of his story, significant concerns related to political, economic and social America are raised.

Palombo’s story itself is certainly most interesting.  But what caught the attention of several people at the Sala discussion was his point that the American public seems to be in a ‘civic depression’ – a state of affairs caused primarily by a lack of understanding of the ideological principles that frame the nature of the U.S. political system  and those of major countries throughout the world.

When it comes to understanding the tenets of liberal and conservative logics and how they relate to the concepts of capitalism and democracy, and competing concepts such as socialism and communism, “we are generally in the dark” says Mr. Palombo.  The end result is that without open discussion and dialogue in our educational institutions, it’s extremely difficult to find solutions to our current national and international concerns as well as determine future options.

It was from this “civic depression” notion that the Campaign for an Informed Citizenry was developed. In essence, it occurred to individuals at the Sala that Mr. Palombo’s thoughts should be extended to a broader audience.  As a result, an Advisory Committee of concerned U.S. citizens living in San Miguel was formed and the website (www.cicorg.com) was developed.

The CIC is in the process of creating a U.S. university tour, to begin in the Fall of 2011, based on the synergy of the book and the ideas/people attached to the Campaign.  Our hope is to achieve a more open, clear and non-partisan dialogue regarding the ideological concerns and differences that are of major importance in today’s rapidly changing world.

Please join us on April 12, at 5 to 7 PM at the Biblioteca Teatro Santa Ana for a presentation/discussion regarding Mr. Palombo’s book and the new CIC organization.  Many of us are ex-pats, but we still have family, social and economic ties to the United States and it’s important for all of us to participate in efforts directed at helping our young country in these most difficult and trying times.

The “American experiment” must continue to grow and evolve and the direction depends on “an informed citizenry.”

 

About Frank Gaydos:
Frank Gaydos is a retired organization/management development consultant to energy industries and the Department of Energy (DOE). He is on the advisory board of CIC.

* * *

The following thoughts appear to be related to any discussion developing from the issues at hand, so please include them in terms of your overall analysis of the material presented.

Particularly in terms of the Campaign for an Informed Citizenry website, there is an implication of the lack of public participation in terms of ideological dialogue.  As indicated this may be due to any one of the following or a combination of all:  public apathy; a sense of powerlessness; some form of “always being number one” delusion; the elements of human nature. The CIC suggestion is that education may be our only way out. If nothing else, it will help us in sorting through our assumptions about what may be at the center of our public concerns.

That being said, let me add a few other considerations. Given my experiences at micro, mid and macro level social issues, it has become apparent that when someone comes along who seeks to investigate and explain what lies hidden or under-realized in any traditional way of thinking/doing, the disturbing and uncomfortable picture painted often makes the people who are included in that same picture, almost in a defensive posture, point an accusing finger at the painter himself. I would suggest that if you feel you might be behaving in this way, consider that one should take heed of any genuine experience, especially in that we can no longer afford not to listen, even if it means having to think and feel in ways that are unfamiliar.

A second consideration has to do with ideologies themselves. For a good number of years, and certainly over the course of my lifetime, our country has led the way over the mastery of ‘things.’ This certainly doesn’t make us any better or worse than any other society, and has in fact fed us quite nicely on a variety of levels. But it doesn’t take much to realize that there is a new ‘will to power’ appearing in the world, spearheaded by China and existing throughout a great portion of the world. (Think of Cuba, the Americas other than the U.S., Africa and the Middle East.) In essence, this is a challenge to U.S. processes and particularly to our ‘business of politics.’ (Given the developments in China alone, particularly with its most intriguing mix of communism and capitalism, and considering the dynamic of dialects, one can legitimately ask:  “Is communism really dead?” An answer may be: “No more than democracy!”)

Now this consideration is noted not to offer any value as to which ideological frame may be better or worse. Instead, what is suggested is what is on point with the CIC – that ideological education is a must in order to grasp what is going on in and around our world. In short, power and politics do not stand still, and it should be our mandate to understand the varying pieces that continue to feed the motion.

— JP


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©Chuck Haupt

Something has to be said for those stately steel gray skies. Amazing how you can capture the layers in the sky being reflected on the surface of the water. This one is on the coast of Maine.

Chuck Haupt is photo editor of Ragazine. You can visit his blog at www.chuckhaupt.com/blog.

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