Featured

The Ode

This is the post excerpt.

Ode to the Writer

By Tom Foster

 

We are the lords and ladies of creation, yet we are still just players.
In the beginning we are as in the end.
We do not aspire, we simply do.
There is the dream, tempered by the reality, and given form by the thought.
By our thought, by our dreams, and by the reality we impose.
It’s a madness of the sort that only poets and writers can truly understand, and even among those only a few can comprehend.
Comprehension, that is a truly frightening thing.
We play with words, we are those that can immortalize, and those that can do what must be said and say what must be done.
It is confusion, this comprehension, and in the midst of it all, it is the single word that carries power, the one among all that is ever elusive, ever there, always waiting for us to return to, to remind us what it is that drives us, what keeps the fountain flowing.
Every last soul that has ever put ink to paper, ever put finger to key, every vague idea that swirls inward from the maelstrom we call the world, the universe, and everything in between and without.
For everything that could come, for everything that has and will come, we are there. We are the ones that do not deny the voice that tells us, “this must come to pass”, or “this must be remembered”.
It is who we are, what we do, and through everything, it is the lifeblood of those who cherish this timeless art form, this undeniable urge to say, in their own manner, “I AM”.
We are not gods, we create, and yet in the process, we are created. It is our words, penned and copied throughout the ages that have helped to shape the world, to say that, “WE ARE”, that “WE EXIST”.
Whether tyrant or savior, good or evil, saint or sinner, the words that are put to time’s test are those that will come to define the world we know. Memory is not enough, though it serves.
As do we.
We are the lords of creation, the ones whose words will last and echo into the ages, for all to see, and all to remember.
Is it truth?
The better question is: Does it matter?
We are the lords and ladies of creation, and by our words, the world we know is shaped, molded, and given to the next generation, and so on and so forth until the whole mess ends, only to be rebuilt, and to crumble again.
We are the lords and ladies of Creation, and this is our legacy.

post

Psychology of Human Sexuality

 

The sexuality of a human being is an uncertain thing.  Physically, it is determined at the conception of the child, as the X and Y chromosomes will reach a configuration that will allow the newly formed organism to be classified as male or female. The genitalia however that are so vital to many in determining whether one is a boy or a girl will not be visible until upwards of 17 to 20 weeks during a pregnancy.  The physical sexuality of a person is determined early on in life, but the overall gender they allude to is an individual choice that must be decided later on.  Gender is another stage in human development that is transitory, not permanent.

All individuals are born with one gender or another. Rarely, if ever, will it happen that an individual is born with both male and female genitalia. Even in this instance the individual’s body will seek to develop in a predetermined manner that will identify them as male or female. However, as an individual grows the changes that are normal to the human body will begin to take hold gradually, altering their appearance and changing their bodies in ways they do not anticipate. Their voices might lower, they may very well experience desires and urges that are completely foreign to their way of thinking, and they could quite possibly begin to question their own sense of self. The gender to which a person is born is not always the gender with which they will identify.

For many years the popular belief was that gender meant everything. A man should engage in manly pursuits, while a woman was expected to engage in womanly pursuits.  Men were supposed to be the provider, the protector, and the lord of the manor. Women were expected to bear children, cook the meals, and keep up the home. More to the point, men and women were expected to be attracted to the opposite gender. Homosexuality was seen as a sin and something highly unnatural (Phelan, Whitehead, & Sutton, 2009).

Even in the common era homosexuality is still frowned upon in some locations, but it has become more acceptable as time has gone by.  Instead of seeking to eliminate what is considered as a sin by some, tolerance has allowed for men to marry men and women to marry women.  The trend has not stopped at homosexuality however, as a wide variety of genders have begun to become recognized by the LBGTQ community and by those that support their right to live as they desire.  Being born as one gender no longer determines the course of a person’s life, nor the manner by which they choose to live.

Many believe that the human brain is hardwired to be one way or another, and in many cases this is true. Male and female genders are extremely fluid when an individual is still in their early, developmental stages (James, 2005). While the body and its naturally-occurring changes will take whatever course they may, the nurturing that a child receives can and does tend to influence the psychological and social makeup of the individual. In other words, what a child is exposed to can alter their way of thinking.  This, coupled with their unique biology, will eventually give rise to their sense of self and their sexual identity.

Sexuality is defined as a person’s orientation or preference, and is typically a product of the biological and environmental processes that work in tandem to determine their development. Such factors are not guaranteed to produce one type of individual or another, but can in fact grant the individual a better understanding of who they are and what type of person they wish to be. For instance, a child raised by homosexual parents is not necessarily predisposed to be homosexual, but will very likely have a much greater understanding of the culture (Bailey& Zucker, 1995). On the opposite side of the spectrum, a homosexual individual raised in a heterosexual home will have a better understanding of what is expected in that culture.

Throughout history it has almost always been seen that the dominant culture in any

society will seek to make its beliefs and values the acceptable norm.  It is also noted that this accepted culture will view other cultures as flawed in some way, even if they are acceptable by the dominant cultures accepted values. In the case of homosexuality and the division of genders there has been great conflict for quite some time. The widely accepted culture of the heterosexual determined early on that intimate and physical relationships were to exist between men and women only, and that anything else was unnatural.  This in turn led to a widespread belief that homosexuality was in many ways irregular and even sinful.

What has been discovered over decades of struggle and turbulence between the two opposing cultures, those of homosexuals and heterosexuals, is that while love knows no gender, biology does. It is vital to have male and female relations in order to create a child, but the love between individuals is possible regardless of gender.  Men may love men, women may love women, and any individual that questions their own gender has the freedom to discover which gender suits them best. For mankind to continue there must be a healthy balance between the biological process as well as the more intimate and sometimes controversial issue of one’s sexuality (Diamond, 2014).

Cultural norms have stood for a long time as a means to deny and even condemn the right to choose one’s own gender, particularly if the chosen gender is not what the individual was born with.  Men have been looked down upon for feeling more feminine, while women have been all but ostracized for displaying more masculine attitudes. There are a host of factors that have throughout history contributed to society’s overall views of such individuals, but many have been rooted in the fear of something that is different and unknown. With the spotlight thrust upon this culture for being an uncertainty in the midst of accepted and known cultural norms, a great deal of scrutiny has come down upon homosexuals and their differentiated culture.

Some have called this a sickness, others a choice that is meant to make the individual different, to force them to stand out in a way that is all about “getting attention”. Despite the harsh glare of society that is cast upon the culture, the LGBTQ community has persevered and even prospered throughout the most recent decades (Moane, 2015). This culture has emerged as a much more prominent community than many ever realized, and has managed to earn its fair share within the world when it comes to employment, how they are treated, and how their choices are respected. Many still call this a sickness of the mind, but they are fewer in number and are no longer considered the overall societal norm.

The survival of humanity depends upon not only the sexual preference of human beings, but also their psychological and emotional proclivities. Biological factors are important to procreate, but emotional and psychological factors are necessary to maintain the necessary relations that make living more than just a mechanical process. What this means essentially is that by necessity, human beings must procreate to continue their existence, but by choice, they must decide how they choose to live.  In order to experience a more fulfilling existence humanity must find the balance between their biological and psychological needs.

The future of humanity will not be decided by gender alone, or the ability to procreate. While this factor is quite important it is not the only facet of human life that must be preserved. Humans must also be capable of living with one another despite any differences, no matter that history has shown this to be futile and quite difficult at times. Entire generations have been marked by the conflict that has come from those who find it necessary to transition from one gender to another. This has created a divide with society that has taken far too long to heal. To live with one another and among each other humanity must embrace those differences and live together, not struggle to remain apart.

References

Bailey, J.M. & Zucker, K.J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A

conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 43-55.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.31.1.43

Diamond, S.A. PhD. (2014). The Psychology of Sexuality. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/201405/the-psychology-sexuality

James, W.H. (2005). Biological and psychosocial determinants of male and female human sexual orientation. Journal of Biosocial Science, 37(5), 555-567.

doi: 10.1017/S0021932004007059

Moane, G. (2015). Psychology along the spectrum of human sexuality. The Irish Times.

Retrieved from

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/psychology-along-the-spectrum-of-human-sexuality-1.2275416

Phelan, J.E., Whitehead, N., Sutton, P.E. (2009). What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to

the APA Claims on Homosexuality. Journal of Human Sexuality. Retrieved from

http://factsaboutyouth.com/wp-content/uploads/What-research-shows-homosexuality.NARTH_.pdf

 

Advertisements

Past and Current Generations

 

The issues of the past generation are not so different than those of the present. All that changes really is the environment, how people react to it, and what changes in both the individual and the world around them.  Identity development among teenagers, who only gained that title in the 1950’s, has for decades been an ongoing and highly debated issue. The loss of cultural identity, traditional values, and even the idea of a nuclear family have been under constant change and revision for many upon many years. What has changed in the last five to six decades is how such a thing is portrayed in the media, and how the public has reacted to what they see.  Media throughout the last sixty years has had a strong influence upon teenagers and how they behave and react to the world around them.

A good example of this would be the film, Rebel Without a Cause, starring the iconic James Dean. Interestingly enough the star actor died in a car crash only a month before the film was released, ending his life at the young age of 24.  The story of Rebel Without  a Cause focuses upon three individual teenagers who are seen as troubled teens, suffering from public drunkenness, being mistaken as a streetwalker, and cruelty to animals.  All three are prime cases of parental neglect in some form, as all three share the unenviable result of parents who simply do not care.  This is a trend that is seen to begin, or at least be first noticed in the 1950’s as delinquency amongst youth began to rise.  Films such as Rebel Without a Cause were seen as catalysts to show young people the way to speak to their elders, and how to react to authority.

In the film Dean, who plays youth Jim Stark, has just arrived in a new town and as most young people would find he is forced to find a way to fit in.  Having moved from their previous home because of his youthful misadventures, Jim soon finds that his former habits begin to define him as he soon begins to flirt with danger once again. Drinking, fighting, and performing dangerous acts such as “chickie games” in which two teenagers race their cars towards the edge of a cliff to see who chickens out first, are among the acts he takes to fit in, though it is not what he wants.

This film speaks to the desires of youth to have a stable and balanced home life, where, in this time period, the father is the head of house and the mother is the obedient wife who cooks and cleans.  In this movie however the father is an absentee presence, as the mother is the more dominant of the two.  Within the American culture at the time this seemed to breed defiance and in turn contributed to delinquency.

As it’s been seen in the 1950’s and even now, adolescence is generally seen to feature increased stress within the relationships that exist between parents and adolescents.  This leads to conflict, which can further the problem and eventually cause a rift between parents and their children. ( Ehrlich, Richards, Lejuez, Cassidy, 2015) In Rebel Without a Cause there is undoubtedly stress that is inflicted upon the relationship between Jim Stark and his family,  caused by the changing dynamic that has been set into place since his coming of age.  Generally such problems will arise from such things as lack of proper or adequate communication, substance abuse, or other psychological matters that are not so easily diagnosed.  In the case of Jim Stark he has a father who is rendered almost completely ineffective and a sick mother who is far more dominant than her husband.  This confusion of role swapping is among the many reasons why youths in the 50’s might have turned to delinquency.

A similar film was created in 1985 titled The Breakfast Club, in which the setting, the plot, and the characters are quite different, introducing an entirely different environment and set of issues, but still continuing the plight of the American teenager.  Considered a classic among teenage and other films, The Breakfast Club is set within a fictional high school in the fictional town of Shermer, Illinois.  While the place and the school are falsified it is without a doubt that the issues presented by the teenagers within the film are not.  Nearly every teen can at some point and time relate to the identities created within the film, be it one or more.

Starring several iconic actors of the 80’s, The Breakfast Club is a story centered around the social dynamic that exists between teenagers, how they view themselves, and how they view one another.  Between the socioeconomic status that exists between them and the other psychological barriers that separate them it is fair to say that this film is based upon the American teenager as a collective, a means by which to define every adolescent at some point and time.  It showcases the feelings that many teens go through in relation to their parents, to one another, and to the world around them in a manner that expresses deepest desire, greatest fears, and the unknown quantity of what it means to be a teenager.

Like Rebel Without a Cause there is distance and conflict with their parents, but it is a mere explanation within this film, a story told by the characters and only viewed in the beginning of the film.  Where Rebel Without a Cause shows the absolute distance between parent and adolescent, The Breakfast Club implies it more than shows, using that parent-adolescent dynamic as a reason behind why they must spend a Saturday in detention.  The various problems that each student expresses in a time of vulnerability explains a great deal about the sociocultural worlds in which they exist, and the social issues that they must deal with between home and school.

In this movie there are seen obvious differences between the students, mostly being that they all come from different backgrounds, both socioeconomic and sociocultural, and that they each have devised a means of protecting themselves from the opinions and shortcomings that are noticed by their peers. (Brown, Manning, Stykes, 2015) Once they open up the lines of communication between them however they find that they have far more in common than they might have initially believed, and that their interpersonal relationship is a far more natural occurrence than the distance they kept in the beginning.

Between the two films there are many differences and similarities, and in truth they both depict the plight of the average American teenager.  What is different is the manner in which the teenagers are depicted and what they must do in order to resolve their own issues.  Within both films the parents seem largely absent in some manner, be it the lack of communication or the lack of caring, but there is an issue that begs resolving in either one.  Despite the great gap of time that is present between the two movies the general feeling of not being understood or listened to pervades the adolescent mind, creating a void between the average teenager and their parent that, while quite natural, can be turned inward to create a decidedly negative outlook if not properly treated or otherwise recognized.

Parents and teenagers will quarrel, that much is as common as anything, but the feeling both films leaves the matter all but settled that the youth of America have for a long time been feeling underrepresented, underrated, and altogether unappreciated. While old models of family and sociocultural biases might well have claimed that such an attitude would best be handled by forcing the teenager to grow up and assume their adult responsibilities, this new era makes room for teenagers to continue to grow and develop within their individual identities in a manner that at times is greatly disruptive to society and their own individual worlds.

As teenagers continue to grow in this current era the problems and issues they must face grow with each passing day, and as it was in the 1950’s so it was in the 80’s, much as it still is now. Teenagers feel that they are not listened to, that their words fall on the deaf ears of adults and are thus still considered the words of children.  The two films that have been listed above and the research used to compare them is proof that communication between adults and adolescents is very vital to the well-being of a household and to the adolescent as an individual.

In both films there are examples of teenagers rebelling, causing trouble, and otherwise disobeying and vexing adults, and in both there are eventual resolutions that are both negative and positive.  In Rebel Without a Cause, Jim Starks eventually reconciles with his parents at the end of the film after spending the entirety of the movie quarreling and openly defying them.  In The Breakfast Club the scene that opens the movie shows each individual teen, save for two, having a frank discussion of why they are there and what went wrong, and in effect shows the disparity between teenager and parent.

An added note to The Breakfast  Club is that also shows the disparity between the teens and the principal of the school, who is an iron-fisted educator with a no-nonsense policy regarding delinquency.  At the end of the film the teens have reconciled with one another, with their parents, except for one, and in effect they have also opened a line of communication with their teacher, who comes to understand that his initial thinking of each teenager was quite wrong.

Communication is key in any relationship, be it parent and teenager, or educator and teenager.  Without a line of communication and the correspondent understanding of why a teen feels the way they do and how it must be treated, there is no resolution that can be reached without a great deal of conflict and consequent loss.  In a teenager’s world, communication is everything.

References

Brown, Susan L.; Manning, Wendy D.; Stykes, J. Bart. (2015) Family Structure and Child Well

being: Integrating Family Complexity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(1).

Retrieved from

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12145/abstract

Ehrlich, Katherine B.; Richards, Jessica M.; Lejuez, C.W.; Cassidy, Jude. (2015). When Parents

and Adolescents Disagree About Disagreeing: Observed Parent–Adolescent

Communication Predicts Informant Discrepancies About Conflict. Journal of Research on Adolescence. Retrieved from

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jora.12197/abstract

 

Compare and Contrast: Tom Brady and Russell Wilson

 

When talking about NFL quarterbacks there have been many names that have come to be synonymous with a number of different adjectives, but there are only two that have been consistently spoken of in reverent tones over the past half decade.  Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, and Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, have both shown the entire league more than once what it takes to be a top caliber player and an outstanding example for younger athletes to follow.  For all that they have in common however there is one very realistic point that would elevate one of them over the other. Russell Wilson is the future of football.

There is nothing to be taken away from Tom Brady, as he is what is referred to in the NFL as the GOAT, or Greatest Of All Time. His numbers have far surpassed many players both before and after his ascension to the top spot in the Patriots organization, but the fact remains that he is at this time a sixteen-year veteran and is beginning to enter the twilight of his NFL career.  As Blount (2015) points out, the statistics between the two men show that Wilson has already began to show his dominance in the league, surpassing Brady in his first five years starting under center. As with all things in life, eventually the top spot must be yielded to someone else.

It can be argued that Brady is more of a pocket passer than Wilson, who is continually

scrambling out of the pocket in order to make a play.  Critics can also debate that the fact that their football IQ is similar, and that both quarterbacks are continually learning, always trying to find a new way to look at old plays. One very immutable fact that never seems to get much attention however is that Wilson has emerged into a different league than Brady came to know when he became the starter for the Patriots in 2001.  While his numbers have began to eclipse Brady’s in a much shorter time, the game has changed a bit since Tom Brady first strapped on his pads.

As Gdula (2015) points out, the statistics have been continually in Russell Wilson’s favor since his emergence in 2012, and are only getting better as the years go by. Brady is by far and large the best in the league as of now, but even the best have to eventually recognize the changing of the guard. While he continues to hang on and attempt a run at a fifth Superbowl ring, Brady is being continually reminded that he is not only a veteran of the sport, but a man who is continually running on limited time.  In the meantime, Wilson is still hitting his stride, and has appeared in two Superbowls during his tenure with the Seahawks, becoming the youngest quarterback to do so in NFL history.

To compare both of these quarterbacks is almost akin to pitting past, present, and future  against one another in attempt to discover just which is superior.  The popularity of both men is such that their fans will stand by them no matter if they begin to wane in their advancing years, but there is no doubt that time favors Wilson over Brady.  So long as the Patriot’s front man is able to run and gun he will continue to be considered the GOAT, though it will likely not be long before Wilson, a dynamic and popular player in his own time, assumes the mantle of one of the elite and greatest quarterbacks of all time.  In the years to come it will be interesting to see how these two outstanding quarterbacks develop, and who will remain on top the longest.

Works Cited

Blount, Terry. Russell Wilson and Tom Brady had similar career starts. ESPN,

http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/159408/russell-wilson-and-tom-brady-had-similar-career-starts. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

Gdula, Brandon. Tom Brady vs. Russell Wilson: Comparing the First 3 Years. NumberFire,

https://www.numberfire.com/nfl/news/4253/tom-brady-vs-russell-wilson-comparing-the-first-3-years/ Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

Imaginary Friends

 

Many times children who are skilled at imaginative play will have an imaginary friend who comforts them and allows them to play out their fantasies in ways that allow them to be more expressive.  This can then facilitate the rich and engaging environments that are born of their thought process and are as a rule dissociated from their otherwise normal environment. As they grow into adults this dissociation grows stronger and can become detrimental to development if allowed to continue without some form of regulation.  By creating their own fantasy, kids who play with imaginary friends will often learn how to adapt their imaginary world to the real world.

Imaginative play is seen by some to be the delusion of a damaged mind in adults.  Those who cling to the idea of fantasy and what is not real can and are often labeled as psychologically unsound. Those who continue to delve into their fantasy worlds after childhood are often ostracized and considered “odd” or “weird” when they either fail or choose not to identify with the world around them.  In truth they are very cognizant of the real world, but choose to dwell within their own fantasy more often as a means of escape from stress or simply because it is preferable to the world they know.

The imagination of children is a very strong and natural instinct that allows children to

fashion their own creative and pleasing world.  It can, as mentioned above, help them escape a

 

situation they cannot control or it can open up a vista that might seem far more favorable simply because it follows their rules rather than the rules that are imposed upon them.  By extension, adults can develop a love of fantasy because it brings to mind that which was so relaxing in their childhood.  Imaginary friends, which are essentially another part of the child who believes in them, do not make demands. In creating an imaginary friend, children are engaging in a self-soothing act of companionship that is liberating and exciting.

Aside from providing companionship, the practice of creating an imaginary friend can

help many children who are dealing with stressful or difficult times to cope and even sort

through their various issues and problems.  This can be stated for adults as well. As stated by Taylor (1999) children often create imaginary friends to grant them a sense of normalcy in a world that is too often changing at a pace that is hard to keep up with.  In this case, imaginary friends can be a positive development in the life of a child that can be continued into adulthood with only a few minor adjustments.

In adulthood the relevance of creating an imaginary friend becomes evident as those

adults who do not give up the habit tend to lean towards the more artistic side of their

personality.  A perfect example of this is the common fiction writer who will begin to talk of

their characters, which are completely fictional, as if they have an actual life of their own with

thoughts and independence on the same level as a real human being.  This is just another form of an imaginary companion. It also grants a strong correlation between the imagination displayed by a child growing stronger and more well-defined as they reach adulthood.

The illusion of independent agency as explained by Taylor, Hodges, and Kohanyi (2010)

displays how those adult writers who create a dialogue with their own fictional characters are

often seen to have had their own imaginary friend as a child.  It is very typical for children and

writers who develop invisible and/or imaginary companions to create a paracosm that allows their creations to take on a life of their own.  For a writer, the experience of becoming immersed in what they do is best explained by the flow theory, which was developed by Csikszentmihalyi.  This process allows for the imagination to create without boundaries and give life to fiction in a way that is both essentially harmless and supportive.

In children, many would call an imaginary friend a pleasant delusion that children create in order to keep themselves entertained and/or amused.  Adults often tend to go along with this development in an effort to keep their child from being disappointed, but the same cannot be said when this behavior is noted in adults. Many adults, even those writers who delve deeply into the subject of their characters, are often considered to be highly delusional when describing how fictional creations can become autonomous characters. A great many within society might call such this practice a sure sign of dissociation from the real world.

The surest test of this would be to expose the subject to the Dissociative Experiences

Scale, which is designed to gauge the level of dissociation that an individual is experiencing.  As

children this test is quite unnecessary, as many children lack the experience to consciously

dissociate from the real world.  Instead, children are subject more to the same practices that adults are known to possess after years of practice and experience.  While they are not in

full control of the creative process that fuels their imagination, they are fully capable of utilizing it in the best way that suits their needs.

As it’s been noted by Trionfi and Reese (2009) children who experience imaginary play

have a similar vocabulary to those who do not, but are often possessed of an ability to offer a

much richer and more in-depth narrative. They are far more capable of telling a story that

contains a descriptive and imaginative background and that seems far more plausible in its

telling.  When given the chance to display their skills at describing their fantasy world through writing, these children are also able to paint a vivid picture with their words of a world that exists in their mind but is no less real thanks to their detailed imagination.  While they do not exhibit dissimilar skills that children without imaginary friends do, the narrative ability of children who engage in imaginary play is often far superior.

As a child matures their imagination changes.  For some this means phasing out the use of imaginary characters altogether, but for others this can mean that their imaginary world gains more depth and richer context thanks to their real world experiences.  Sometimes those adults who are more mentally sound are those who engaged in a rich, story-filled world of imagination that kept them continually busy as children no matter if they were considered strange or unusual.  In fact, some adults would go so far as to say that without an imaginary friend or a fantasy world to experience they might never have found the way to lead the type of life they choose in their older years.  Some people grow up but never allow their imagination to fade.

Those adults who enjoy a rich fantasy life, artists and authors in particular, are often those who were exposed to video games, cartoons, comic books, and various other media that allowed them to let their imaginations run wild. Despite the structured, orderly way that such media is composed and delivered, it can inspire the active imaginations of those who are capable of creating their own impressive array of fantastical settings and characters.  Explaining how the worlds and characters they create become autonomous is very simple; they are extensions of the creator.  The imagination is a reflection of the self no matter how fantastical or unlikely it might be.

The belief of the average adult fuels the belief in the fantasy and gives it “life” just

as a child does, by believing in the process of their creation and placing a bit of their own

personality into its design.  This is as true for imaginary characters as it is for literary characters that are completely fictional.  To an author those characters are their creations, their children, and in some cases, their sense of self.  In the case of a child, an imaginary friend is a playmate who is in complete tune with them because they are essentially the same person, no matter the differences.

Those children who grow into adults that enjoy fantasy are often those who had the best times with their imaginary friends and did not want that sensation to end. There is a type of liberation in the act of imagination, both as a child and as an adult. The mind is allowed to relax, the body benefits from the lack of mental stress, and the spirit is lightened in a way that elevates a person’s thinking.  Imagination is one of the many balms that can help people to relax, and can create a different affect in each person.

Many children use their imagination without any effort or thought beforehand. It is a natural byproduct of how children view the world around them and how they choose to assimilate those experiences.  The creation of imaginary friends is a defense mechanism as well as a means to make sense of situations and the world in general when it seems too big and there is no one around to explain how it works. The imaginary friend is the surrogate self that keeps the child safe, alert, and able to believe in those things they cannot see but still feel are absolutely necessary.

Adults who had imaginary friends as children are often more balanced individuals despite

seeming a bit disillusioned or “unhinged”. They are also far more capable of empathy towards others due to their experience, and are quite capable of deductive reasoning when dealing with other people. Through their use of imagination they have found a way to gain life experience and better insight into the complexities of humanity.

Works Cited

Taylor, Marjorie. “Do Older Children and Adults Create Imaginary

Companions?” Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them. New York: Oxford UP, 199. 134-163.

Taylor, Marjorie, Hodges, Sara D., Kohanyi, Adele. “The Illusion of

Independent Agency: Do Adult Fiction Writers Experience their Characters as Having Minds of Their Own?” Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, vol. 22, no. 2, 2010,

http://ica.sagepub.com/content/22/4/361.short

Trionfi, Gabriel & Reese, Elaine. “A Good Story: Children With

Imaginary Companions Create Richer Narratives.” Child Development, vol. 80, no. 4, 2009,

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01333.x/abstract

 

 

Success

 

The manner by which an individual measures their success tends to vary from one person to the next. Some consider the definition very clear-cut and obvious, while others would offer a differing opinion that begs further discussion and definition of the term. In truth, success is the self-gratification that comes from knowing that an individual has done what they can to enhance the world around them.  Real success is the ability of the individual to understand and recognize what is important in their life.

There are millions of examples of success that can stem from the more personal idea of what it means to be successful to the far more grandiose concept that is recognized by society. Actors are considered successful largely because they earn huge, impressive paychecks, but in some cases also put as much effort into helping the less fortunate through acts of humanitarianism.  An unknown individual can also be considered successful for the same action, but their success will be considered far more low-key due to their societal status.

Those that seek glory are often those whose actions are noticed and lauded as a success,

whereas those who are not noticed must work that much harder to be seen in the same light.

Success is quite typically bound by the definitions of society. Those that are constantly in the

public view, such as actors, politicians, and various other personalities, are continually labeled as

success stories for many reasons.

One reason among the many is the adversity that so many of these personalities

supposedly struggle through in order to gain their current status. While their struggle is just as real as their triumph, they are often lauded as being inordinately strong for having overcome such obstacles in their lives to gain such fame and success. The commoner that struggles in much the same fashion but is successful in their own life is just as much of a success.

Those who must rise from hardship to achieve a life worth living are every bit as successful, no matter if they are recognized or not. The act of being successful is not limited to the presence that an individual shows to the public. The greatest success stories are those that will never be known.

Behind every famous individual sits those who were directly or indirectly responsible for their fame. Those who elevate such individuals rarely, if ever, achieve the type of attention that these individuals are given. Their status is not elevated by those they raise, nurture, and even help every step along the way. They are the unsung heroes that create the rich and famous, and they are among the greatest examples of success.

Leadership in Law Enforcement

 

Becoming a leader in any field is a continuous stage of development that never ends and rarely, if ever, allows for the discontinuation of learning.  To become a leader takes dedication, fortitude, and an ability to adapt and evolve to any situation that might come along. It is the top spot, the most vulnerable and exposed area of any team that can be evaluated, criticized, and held under closer scrutiny than any other aspect of a group.  Being the leader comes with the responsibility of being the individual that everyone will look to in times of need, and who will shoulder the blame for their group when necessary.  The role of a leader is to serve those beneath them by setting an example of professionalism and duty.

Leaders can come from any walk of life. They can be born to families that are influential in their community and well-respected by others, and they can come from less reputable areas and broken homes that have taught them how to empathize with others.   There are many qualities that make a leader, but few that define them as well as the inner qualities that are the core values that an individual needs to possess in order to inspire others.  A leader is not often born to the role, but instead is selected by those who see one or more qualities in an individual that are desired and respected by those around them.

Those who actively seek to lead are often the ambitious, driven types that desire the role

of leadership and are bound to do whatever is required to elevate themselves to such a role.

While such individuals are not inherently bad leaders, they often bear watching as their ambition

can be easily tempted by environmental and societal factors. Such influences can be largely

harmless and do no real wrong, but they can also lead to the individual making morally corrupt

decisions to gain and even retain the authority they seek.  Individuals that seek the role of

leadership are those who genuinely want to help people most times, but can be seen to make

decisions that cause them to be seen as less than efficient role models and morally corrupt mentors.

Leaders who are not drawn by ambition to the role of the leader but by a reluctant sense of duty to their fellow human beings are those who are often hesitant to assume the role.  These individuals typically follow a loose to strict moral code and generally act on what they know to be right and just.  Their reluctance often stems from the fear of responsibility or even the thought of what might happen once they are given a measure of authority over another.  Some might call it humility, but on many occasions it is the realization that they are not emotionally or mentally fit or ready for the role of leaderships that others attempt to foist upon them.

Those leaders that accept their role without reluctance or an overabundance of ambition are those rare few who know what must be done and do not shy away from their duty.  They tend to be strict students of their chosen field and aspire to be greater than what they have been trained to be. Such leaders are often known for pledging their service and life to their ideals and to what they know to be just and right within their chosen field. These types of leaders very often are those who are not the overall popular choice of their peers, but are considered to be the best person for the job.

Another quality that is also quite popular in many leaders is charisma. While to some this

quality is merely the act of being able to draw people forth and gain their attention, to a leader

charisma is a tool by which to both draw people to their cause and to make those same people

believe just as strongly as they do that their ideals are the right ones to follow. An effective

leader will not make demands of their people, but will listen and offer feedback in a continuous

and efficient manner so as to facilitate better communication with those they work with.  In

effect charisma is the quality that a leader must possess and use to such extent that they are able

to convince others that they are worth following.

In the world of law enforcement a leader is the individual to whom other officers and

personnel look to when necessary and the one to whom those same officers will learn from.

Leadership requires a great deal from any individual and is a learning process that can reveal a

great deal about the individual (Willis, 2011). Leaders are often required to put aside their

personal interests for the greater good of the group and to help mentor those who are either their

subordinates or are in need of guidance.  Within the realm of law enforcement the mark of a

good leader is an individual that seeks to perform their duty while attempting to serve the

interests of their fellow officers and the community they are sworn to protect.

Superior officers, or leaders, are those who often reach their rank through long hours, exhaustive effort, and a basic to superior understanding of what it means to be afforded the top spot in their precinct.  Such individuals are by no mean perfect or even respected leaders at all times, but they have gained their position by more than luck and circumstance.  Becoming a superior officer does not make an individual a good leader, but by becoming a good leader it is possible to rise up through the ranks by deed and reputation.  Superiors are typically required to be those with the highest moral fiber and possess a sense of justice that is far greater than those who serve beneath them.

There are unfortunate cases in which an individual that has desired to lead has attained a

superior rank but has done so in a manner that is not befitting an officer of the law who must

keep in mind the best interests of their officers or their community.  It is a rare occasion that

happens in which a commanding officer does not pay attention to such crucial interests, and in

such cases the person placed into such a leadership role does not last long and is either asked or

forced to resign.  Leadership is not about perfection, nor is it a role that can be custom fit to

every individual at all times.

Those who lead are often those who have shown that they have the capacity and the

aptitude to learn and to show behavioral patterns that enable them to assume such a prominent

role.  While leadership is typically a quality that is inherent in many individuals, the adherence to

the many different aspects that define a successful and capable leader are often the result of

intense training. This training is designed to accentuate the leadership qualities of an individual

by applying behavioral science and modern theories in leadership that are designed to test

motivation, performance and satisfaction in achieving organized goals (Leadership In Police Organizations Program, n.d.).  Those capable of finding success in such training programs are then encouraged to learn how to apply and integrate what they have learned throughout their training into their everyday lives to further their commitment as well-developed leaders.

One crucial role of a leader is to take care of those who serve under them (Glennon,

2010). In the case of law enforcement, a leader is not solely defined by rank, but by their ability

to serve those who follow them and to insure that they are at all times watching out for their

subordinates. The role of a leading officer is to insure the safety and security of their fellow

officers, and to set a positive example to follow. There is no “good enough” for a leader in any position, especially in law enforcement. For a leader, there must always be a drive to succeed and to excel, as the leader that doesn’t push themselves and their people for better is bound to eventually fail.

In law enforcement failure can bring about many different outcomes, not the least of

which is an unwanted or unexpected fatality on the job. Leaders must be able to display

knowledge of their environment and community and plan accordingly to insure the safety of their

fellow officers.  They must also be knowledgeable enough to know how to respond to their

community and understand what must be done to alleviate any problems within said community that arise.  The role of a leader is an important fixture in law enforcement, as it is not just a position of authority, but one of great responsibility.

For every good leader that emerges from the ranks however there are several others who

exemplify what it means to be a very poor and maladjusted leader.  These individuals are

typically mean-spirited, callous, and in some cases are quite driven by the need to control and

operate with near-impunity. While law enforcement has long attempted to weed out such

individuals with the application of psych evaluations and other such measures, those individuals who desire authority over others at all costs still manage to secure leadership roles. They are a prime example of what it means to be a poor leader.

Those individuals who seek only personal glory and recognition for their achievements

are the type of leaders that will typically not seek to advance or even recognize their subordinates

under normal circumstances.  Very often they will advance their fellow officers only if they are

granted the attention they desire and are in some way given the adulation that they have not yet

earned but tend to need to massage their ego.  Such individuals are not typically natural born

leaders, but there are the rare few who possess the necessary charisma to lead but not the intestinal fortitude or the will that can easily define a leader.  Many see the role of a leader as being a position that is meant to cater to their every whim, not as a position to do what is best for the team.

A leader understands what it is to sacrifice, to give up their time and effort for the benefit

of those around them.  Such individuals are often quite humble and while they can receive praise

and adoration, they will often allow it to transfer from themselves to their team.  They

understand that without the team and their efforts that the role of a leader would be highly

irrelevant.  A leader whose team does not choose to follow them is an ineffective leader due to lack of communication as well as trust.  Individuals will follow those they know will never ask them to do anything that they would not do themselves.

Real leaders, whether they bear a superior rank or not, are servants as well as teacher and

do not seek to put their personal glory ahead of the team.  In law enforcement rank does not

define a leader, as the actions of an officer can speak louder than their insignia.  There is of

course the need to observe rank and respect the uniform, but leaders are known for exercising

good judgment, sound reasoning, and a dedication to the people around them that can inspire and empower others.  A leader is someone that does not seek personal achievement at the expense of those around them.

Those who seek to lead are often those who do not think of themselves first, all but

abandoning the sense of self when performing their duty.  They are the ones who often show up

early to their shift and do not leave until they are certain that the job has been completed to the

absolute best of their ability. Leaders are the ones who help others to learn, to build, and to

maintain a constant rapport not just within the circle of officers they influence, but within their

community as well.  Real leaders put their own ego in check when it comes to the needs of others and their duty.

There are always rules when it comes to being a leader. However, despite the set code of ethics and procedures within law enforcement there are other codes that both overlap and at times act as core commandments that leaders must pay close attention to (Thin Blue Line of Leadership, 2016), such as:

1) Practice and recognize appropriate culture before following rules and regulations.  The

skill with which a squad handles themselves around others will often facilitate the adherence to

rules and regulations set forth by the law.

2) Instruct officers to aspire to the role of a leader for the following generation of recruits.  Through strong and decisive mentoring it is possible to create honest, upstanding individuals who will stand as an example for those officers who are looking for an example.

3) Recall the purpose behind entering law enforcement in the first place. Share that

purpose with others to offer inspiration and a desire for something better.  The basic

understanding of law enforcement and why it is important to a leader and to those around them is

vital to their role within the justice system.

4) Those leaders that are trained will only be as good as their training.  When presented with a stressful situation many officers, leaders included, will fall back upon their training. Capable leaders will be able to utilize their training to work through any situation.

5) The value that comes from doing what is right and just is important and must be emphasized.

6) The average leader will recognize that fear does not justify any action or inaction on

their part.  Fear often causes hesitation that in the field of law enforcement can lead to disastrous

consequences for an officer or their squad.  A good leader does not hesitate and inspires others to understand the harsh reality of their duty and to react to it, not shy away from it.

7) It is always important that a leader recognizes and gives a fitting reward to those who operate under them.  This can in turn promote a stronger and more efficient police force that can produce far more capable leaders.

8) Efficient leaders do not waste time when instructing their subordinates and fellow officers. Briefing time is often short and a good leader knows not to squander such instructional and important moments.

9)  A responsible leader will always seek to increase their influence with their squad by keeping in contact, practicing efficient communication, and forming a connection with those under their command. A good way to do this is to step out of the office from time to time and handle calls with the officers who patrol the streets.

10) The success of an efficient and capable leader can be seen through the success of their fellow officers.  A leader will place their own personal gain on hold in order to see to and facilitate the success of their subordinates and peers.

Tradition has a great deal to do with leadership as well, as throughout the ages every leader of any note has possessed many key qualities that include those listed above, as well as several others.  Leaders have always needed to be strong, either mentally, physically, emotionally, or all three at once.  Those individuals seeking this role have typically been highly charismatic, forceful but not abusive towards their subordinates, and in most cases, male.  While the traditional roles of a leader have changed greatly throughout history, male dominance has for a very long time been one of the driving factors behind leadership.

In the current day and age the traditionally male role has been changed quite drastically as women and those of other race, culture, and ethnicity have stepped up to the challenge with great fervor.  Men were at one time considered smarter, wiser, stronger, and more capable of performing the dangerous duties required by a position in law enforcement. During the last several decades the rise of women and different ethnicities has changed the landscape of law enforcement and the roles of leadership as well.  Where once white males were seen as the preferred role models and leaders of the police force, now women and individuals from various cultures have taken over these positions.

It is a definite step forward in the field of law enforcement that equal opportunity is now

being given to those who were at one point and time deemed to be not worthy or good enough to attempt to make a career in this profession.  There have been intense struggles and many issues to be resolved in the push for women and those of other races to be accepted as officers of the law, let alone leaders among their fellow officers.  The upheaval within the police force was such that women and those of other races who enlisted were often discriminated against even by their fellow officers. This was a time when leaders were badly needed.  Unfortunately, this was also a time when many of the more traditional-thinking leaders did not step forward as they sought to cling to their position and their authority.

True leaders are not intimidated or frightened by change, but instead learn how to embrace it and accept new situations as they emerge.  As the police force became integrated and learned to accept women and other ethnicities into its ranks, many leaders began to finally come around and state their willingness to accept the changes and make accommodations for those women and other officers who would be serving beneath them.  This however did not solve the problem, but made it worse as their fellow officers were quick to cite that preferential treatment would make them less than equal, and offer an unfair advantage to those newcomers who would not have to undergo the same experiences as those who had come before them.

Those who have been discriminated against were unfortunate enough at times to

encounter leaders who had in their own time possibly been great and well respected, but had

allowed the prospect of change to sour their way of thinking.  Good leaders are those who help

their fellow officers to build upon and establish a successful and promising career. Great leaders

are those that do not discriminate against anyone for any reason and believe that anyone can

accomplish whatever they set their minds to.  The difference between a good and a great leader is

that the good leaders will reach the top of their profession and cease to learn or be open to new

experiences.  Great leaders will understand that real learning never stops, and only through further learning will they be able to truly serve those who follow them.

In law enforcement a true leader is one that remains diligent and does not allow themselves to cling to old ways and outdated practices. The role of police officers has not changed much over the years, but some of the laws they are charged with enforcing have.  A leader in law enforcement needs to be able to understand what is required of their officers and themselves in order to be effective. By remaining knowledgeable about the law and how to apply it, these leaders can then further insure the success of their subordinates and fellow officers.

Rank means almost nothing when it comes to being a leader in law enforcement.  While it is very true that rank denotes who is in charge and who stands at the head of the pack, the role of a leader is much more than just a rank.  A leader is a person who others look up to and aspire to be like. They are the voice within the system that can inspire others and create or stimulate belief.  A leader could be the newest rookie on the force, or the most wizened and grizzled detective in the precinct.  Being the head of the department does not signify leadership if no one is willing to follow that person’s lead.

In order to lead, a person must first be willing to serve.  To be an effective leader an

individual should know what starting at the bottom is like, as this grants that individual an in-

depth perspective that carries great value if they should ever reach the top of their department.

Leaders of officers are not born to the position. They are forged in the fires of duty and service

that is required of every officer that joins the force.  In order to become a truly effective,

and worthwhile leader an individual must know what it is like to be a lowly rookie with grand ideals and a desperate need to prove themselves to a job that is often thankless, demanding, and sometimes quite dangerous.  To become a leader, an officer must know what it is like to serve.

References

Glennon, J. (2010). Keys to successful police leadership. Police One. Retrieved from

https://www.policeone.com/chiefs-sheriffs/articles/2832511-Keys-to-successful-police-leadership/

The Blue Line of Leadership (2016). Law Enforcement Leadership Commandments. Law

Officer. Retrieved from

http://lawofficer.com/leadership/law-enforcement-leadership-commandments/

Welcome To The Leadership In Police Organizations Program. (n.d). International Association

of Chiefs of Police. Retrieved from

http://www.iacp.org/Leadership-in-Police-Organizations-LPO

Willis, D. (2011). Perspective: Principles of Effective Law Enforcement Leadership. FBI Law

Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved from

https://leb.fbi.gov/2011/march/perspective-principles-of-effective-law-enforcement-leadership

 

How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

 

There is inequality in the world and it is as it has always been, that the rich and more affluent rise above the common person and thus a gap is created between the rich and the poor.  What Wilkinson is speaking of is not necessarily just who is rich and who is poor but rather the drastic effects that can take place in a society where economic inequality is allowed to continue.  If there is no measure of equality between a societies class structures then it is clearly seen that problems both economic and social in nature begin to arise.

Crime, life expectancy, and even infant mortality are all highly affected by economic inequality as those who can afford a better class of life are typically those will live longer and stay healthier.  The correlation between countries and who is more equal than others is not absolute, but in accordance with the data shown it is highly probable that countries with higher inequalities between social classes struggle more with serious concerns that eventually begin to affect every social class from the lowest to the highest.  And yet, somehow, several countries have deduced how to maintain that equality and thus improve or maintain their way of life.

In regards to developing countries the inequalities felt are likely to be even worse, as those wealthier countries that Wilkinson highlights have all gone through their growing pains and despite their current inequalities have found a system that is proven enough to work.  Likely as not within developing countries those who are without means to care for themselves will remain that way, and become even more downtrodden as those few who gain affluence do whatever they can to keep it.  The relevance of what Wilkinson has to say is small when concerning still-developing countries, as the correlation between economic inequality and nationwide concerns is very small, almost to the point of non-existence given that such countries are still struggling to find an economic identity.