Comments on “The Use of Force: Law Enforcement as a Reflection of Society”

Editor’s Note: Sandra Castillo’s blog post is a commentary on several quotes from the blog post on The Systems Thinker, of June 23, 2020, “The Use of Force: Law Enforcement as a Reflection of Society” by Stephanie Ferrera, MSW. 

Hello Stephanie,

Thanks for sharing your article. It is very well done. Some thoughts on a few passages from it: 

Stephanie’s passage: “The police are a reflection of the larger society, of the level of chronic anxiety and the level of maturity in the society.  The functioning of the police can be objectively understood only in this larger context.  The harsher treatment of the poor, minorities, and people of color, and the more lenient treatment of affluent and white people in the justice system reflect the projection process and extreme social stratification in our nation.” 

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A Personal Reflection on Racism and Inequality

In these turbulent times of an unending struggle with a deadly virus and a growing awareness of social injustice and systemic racism, many in our country are supporting Black Lives Matter and reading books on racism.  There is a growing consensus that some fundamental changes need to be made to address racial and economic inequities.  Change at a personal level will not come about easily as it involves examining long standing beliefs related to basic personal identity.  The split in our country over issues of race shows that change will also not be easy on a societal level. Changes on both levels must be addressed before the policy issues that maintain the inequalities will be changed.  The broad-based support for civil rights for the LGBTQ community demonstrates that after enough marches, enough education, enough open conversation and airing of differences change can come about.  Some believe we are at a “tipping” point regarding race relations in our country.  I believe we are at the stage of opening communication with each other and sharing of facts, thoughts, and opinions.  This blog is my effort to contribute to the conversation.  I recognize that this is a complicated and complex issue and I most certainly do not pretend to cover it thoroughly.  Rather, I will share my journey with the expectation and the readiness to listen to the experiences and opinions of others to continue the conversation.

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The Use of Force: Law Enforcement as a Reflection of Society

The use of physical force is an instinctual response to a real or perceived threat.  In a moment of fear, who has not found themselves raising a voice, or raising an arm, or seeking a way to constrain the other and protect self?  The use of force to bring conflict under control should be a last resort and applied judiciously, yet with rising emotional intensity, it easily becomes the first resort, setting in motion an escalation of conflict. 

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Welcome to a New Year of Opportunity

The new year and new decade present us, our families and our nation with “necessary, serious, and great things,” some which have not been faced before.  Can we bring to it the wisdom we need to transcend our differences and build the cooperation that these times require?

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Thinking Systems After A Mass Shooting

I live and work six blocks from the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, IL. On February 15th, Gary Martin killed five people and wounded five police officers after being fired from Henry Pratt. At this time, not much is known about Mr. Martin. I’ve written before about violence in society. What I do know is that there is a connection between chronic anxiety in the family, one’s level of stress and violent behavior. All of us tend to move towards others to take control or to distance when anxiety goes up. In cases where there is violence, people move aggressively towards others when there is high levels of family intensity, significant cutoff among family members and a trigger of intense stress.

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Violence in Society

Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people and wounded seventeen more, I found myself in a conversation (really a debate) with a gun rights advocate. I’m grateful for the conversation because it helped clarify my thinking about gun violence and violence in general.

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The Family In Society: Navigating Through Turbulent Times

Dr. Murray Bowen originated a theory of human behavior in the 1950’s and continued to work on it until his death in 1990. Bowen Family Systems Theory is based on his view of the family as a natural system that functions as an emotional unit. Bowen described emotional process in families and how it shapes and is shaped by the responses of each family member.

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Lincoln and Leadership

I went to see Spielberg’s “Lincoln” a second time this week in order to verify whether Lincoln was really the perfect example of Systems Based Leadership I had thought he was when I first saw the movie. Even though Lincoln was born more than a hundred years before Murray Bowen, he apparently had an instinctive way of defining himself that is remarkably congruent with Bowen’s ideas about leadership.

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I’m not a political expert

I’m not a political expert. But I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to make sense of the senate confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a hearing focused on accusations of sexual misconduct and excessive drinking. Opinions vary dramatically on the “reasons” for the partisan fight and who is to blame.

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From Family to Society: The Broad Scope of Bowen Systems Thinking

“From Family to Society: The Broad Scope of Bowen Systems Thinking” was the subject of the Center for Family Consultation Summer Conference held in Oak Park on July 20, 2018. Dr. Katharine Gratwick Baker, a scholar of Bowen Family Systems Theory and historian, was the presenter. Dr. Baker has a PhD in Social Work and an MA in Russian History.

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