It is an understatement to say that we in the United States are living in a time of cultural unrest. Certainly, this is not unprecedented in our country. Some degree of cultural unrest occurs in every country and culture and there have been many such periods in our own country. Our country’s unrest spans a broad range of cultural arenas: political unrest, economic uncertainty, rapidly changing social norms, unrest with our business, educational, and judicial systems and the digital revolution affecting every aspect of our lives.
Unrest isn’t always a negative term, though the term “cultural unrest” implies anxiety, disturbance and agitation. But unrest can also refer to a healthy internal restlessness within us that compels us to try to solve serious societal problems, address unacceptable “isms” in society, such as racism and sexism, eliminate injustice and interpersonal violence and agitate for constructive societal change. Traditional and historical ways of doing things have a strong internal momentum. Certainly, many of these traditions are valuable and don’t necessarily need to change, but at times of cultural unrest it seems like everything is up for critical scrutiny.
How each of us relates to this societal unrest will differ based on our own lifetime of experiences, our personalities and how intensely we identify with the felt need for such changes to occur. We may celebrate the positive potentials embedded in this unrest and simultaneously fear the loss of important elements of our personal history and cultural values. It is very different to read about periods of cultural upheaval than it is to be living them. Many of us have lived through several such periods during our lifetimes.
The value in naming and examining the disturbing and life-altering developments occurring in our culture include helping one another become aware of the wide variety of challenges facing our present culture. Identifying and addressing our own and setting the stage for transforming cultural crisis into personal and cultural opportunity. Let’s talk about cultural unrest as it relates to our society and our personal lives.
- What are the primary issues of unrest you see happening in our society today?
Which of these issues are impacting you most directly and personally?
- What fears and anxieties does the present unrest in our culture stir up for you and what do you perceive as the positive potentials of the present-day change movements?
- Do you see some of your personal issues mirrored in any of these arenas? For example, your experience as a member of a sexual, racial or religious minority may tie in quite directly with one of the current arenas of unrest within our culture.
- How does living in a time of cultural unrest affect you as a person? As a woman? How does all of this interact with the fact of our aging?