A Brief History of Civil Society in America

What makes your society run the way it’s supposed to? How do organizations that aren’t government or business related help society? Civil society or the third sector also plays a part in what makes and operates a country.

First and foremost, the United States is broken into three different sectors. The public sector, the private sector, and the civil sector. The public sector includes the government and governmental organizations, the private sector is made up of businesses and corporations, and lastly, the civil sector includes all of the organizations that work in the public’s best interest but are not seeking a profit or are not controlled by the government.

Civil societies play a big part in the way the country operates. Many civil societies include: labor unions, non-profit organizations, churches, and many other service agencies, but the definition of civil society has changed quite a bit over the years.

In the 18th century, civil society had political ties to it that it does not have today. In its original understanding, it governed social conflict by placing rules on citizens from harming one another. The term then changed meaning towards a more modern liberal definition. It became a system of needs for citizens that was located outside of the political spectrum. Most recently, civil society has taken its place among the third sector, where its voice can be heard outside of business and politics.

According to Bruce Sievers in an article posted to Grantmakers in the Arts, today’s civil society is broken into seven key concepts.

  1. Nonprofit and voluntary institutions.

This includes nonprofit organizations as well as nongovernmental organizations. These institutions play a role in achieving social purposes. They are lead by ideals that do not require a profit to be turned or to have any influence from governmental organizations.

  1. Individual rights.

Individual rights has been classified as a distinctive characteristic of civil society. The individual rights of all citizens is at the forefront of what it means to have a civil society, and are protected as such.

  1. The common good.

Leading back to one of the original concepts of civil society, the common good is derived from society’s purpose to advance common interests among its citizens.

  1. The rule of law.

This concept is intertwined with the previous two, as it becomes the checks and balances system of protecting individual rights and promoting the common good. Without the rule of law, the rights and common good of citizens would be up for interpretation and may falter from their original intent.

  1. Philanthropy.

Closely related to promoting the common good, philanthropy is essential to civil society. Philanthropy has helped shape American civil society in the 18th and 19th centuries and continues to do so today.

  1. Free expression.

Free expression is associated with individual rights and the concept of free speech. As part of civil society and society in America, freedom of expression and the formation of public opinion is a definitive characteristic of civil society.

  1. Tolerance.

Without tolerance many of these concepts would lie flat. Groups and organizations need to be certain that their freedom of expression and their individual rights are protected. By having tolerance as a main characteristic of civil society, these groups can be rest assured that they are protected.

Civil society plays a huge part in the way countries and especially America are run. They promote equality and the inclusion of all for purposes to promote the common good among citizens. These institutions help further society by protecting individuals and promoting the advancement and well-being of citizens.

How to Positively Impact Climate Change Under the Trump Administration

Will the newly inaugurated US president, Mr. Donald Trump, ruin all of America’s progress, or even the world’s progress, towards becoming greener? This question is bouncing around millions of people’s minds. To tackle this question, we must assess the situation, create objectives, plan accordingly, and then, take actionable steps to accomplish the objectives.

With Trump’s inauguration came a world of protest. Not only did Americans protest, but men and women worldwide are still protesting as I type; and, it has already been two months since his election. Coral Davenport of the New York Times tells of Trump’s fierce disbelief in climate change. Trump is going so far as to “[vow] to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency ‘in almost every form.’” After the wildly successful and global Women’s March on January 21, 2017, would-be protesters have gained the courage to stand their ground against Trump on April 29, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at the People’s Climate March.

This People’s Climate March committee states, “Donald Trump’s election is a threat to the future of our planet.” With this in mind, we must vow ourselves to improve the environment, even in the face of great opposition. Here is what you can practically do to promote a greener, safer, and better world for the generations to come, even in light of Trump’s actions.

1) March on Washington

Join the People’s Climate March on April 29, 2017.

2) Become a People’s Climate Mobilization Partner

On the People’s Climate website, there is a form you can fill out for your organization to affect climate change. “We are mobilizing specifically for 100 hours of action at the beginning of Trump’s Presidency,” they state, “and escalating from there towards a massive march [in April]… If you are interested in supporting the effort, please fill out this form.”

3) Lobby Elected Officials

Listen to the AFSCME on how they lobby elected officials. Although they have a different message, their method is still golden. They offer insights into why you should lobby, how to write to an official, how to run a meeting with an official, and how to communicate powerfully.

4) Personally Implement Green Practices

There is a wide variety of literature on how to be “green.” Here’s an article that simply explains ten ways to do this.

5) Green Your Office

Reach out to your superior and/or Human Resource Director on ideas you have, concerning greening the office. Maybe even consider creating a powerpoint presentation to pitch your ideas. Show you are serious and that this is a serious matter. Of course, stay professional by not referencing politics, but use some of the same messaging you use with lobbying officials in your message to your employer. Here are “30 Easy Ways to Go Green in the Office.”

These five examples should keep you busy for a long time, depending on how deeply you enact them. These can seem overwhelming, but here is the trick to staying motivated: Focus on the solution, not the problem. If you only look at the mountain in front of you that you have to climb and not your powerful gear, knowledgeable team, and reward at the top, you will fail. Your firepower is what you have, not what you don’t.

Part Two: Did You Know War Affects Children’s Education This Badly?

War disrupts the normal trajectory of children’s lives, due to the fact that tens of thousands of children are forced out of their schools during these times. Children who might have finished high school by the age of 18 are now child soldiers or have been in refugee camps for so long that they have no education at all. According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health (NLM/NIH), “It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of young people under 18 serving in militias in about 60 countries.” Getting a proper education can keep war from happening in certain areas by making the area more civilized. Education is massively important, and it’s time to start facing the facts about how it is affecting our civil society as a whole.

Leaving School

War keeps children from gaining an education due to the armed forces taking over schools or playgrounds children once played on. Many children are forced to run for their lives, as they are in immediate danger for trying to attend school. This splits apart families and causes children to have to start working to provide for themselves or to join armies to survive.

Living in Refugee Camps

Children are forced to live in refugee camps, because they have nowhere else to go. The NLM/NIH shares that “they wait for years in miserable circumstances for normal life to resume, if it ever does.” Refugee camps do not start out with educational facilities in them. Those that have some educational resources are fortunate but have them in extremely small quantities. NGO’s and NPO’s try their best to support these educational efforts, but it’s not nearly enough to keep a country from becoming underdeveloped.

Creating an Underdeveloped Country

War makes education such an impossible feat for so long in many countries that it starts to change the culture. According to the Peace Pledge Union:
“As the conflict continues without an end in sight and humanitarian organisations continue to struggle to provide the immediate material needs of the victims of the war, it is increasingly possible that a whole generation might be left without a basic education. This turn of events alone will plummet a developed country into an underdeveloped country.”

Countries that do not have education for numerous years in a row leave children grown up with no sense of direction. They have little to no job skills and have to obtain exceedingly low paying jobs in order to survive. This will leave a country with fewer resources and means to live and will start to affect their ability to import and export. This slowly starts to deteriorate a country’s ability to conduct business, plummeting the economy further and further down.

If war alone can do this in one country, how powerfully does it speak to war’s ability to impact negative change throughout the entire world? War needs to end, now.

Part One: Did You Know War Affects Children’s Health This Badly?

 

Did You Know War Affects Children's Health This Badly?Children are left broken and destitute as a result of war. According to Letty Thomas of WarChild.org, “[C]ivilians were once far removed from the fighting; they’re now routinely targeted and make up 90% of the casualties.” Thousands of children die as a direct result of violence in war each year. Thomas goes on to say that “Hospitals and health [centers] are destroyed. Doctors and nurses are killed or have fled. Children are most vulnerable to diseases like [diarrhea], malaria and cholera. Treatment is simple and cheap, but millions of children have died through lack of it.” Moreover, thousands of children are injured each year specifically by weapons. Landmines are particularly vicious. Children are more likely to get hurt by landmines than adults are. Injuries occur as a result of poor knowledge of how to use weapons, being in the line of fire, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Children are further disabled from war. According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health (NLM/NIH), “A child may have to wait up to 10 years before having a prosthetic limb fitted.” The NLM/NIH further states that children have poor access to proper, “nutrition, water safety, sanitation, housing, and… health services.” Because of this, illness becomes an indirect effect of war on children. Because children are often separated from their parents/guardians throughout the lifespan of a war, they are often left with guardians who do not care for them as much. These children end up having to scavenge for medical help on their own, which most can’t or won’t.

Oftentimes, people do not view mental health as a part of physical health, but it is. The mind is just as much of an organ as any other body party, and it gets affected deeply during the process of war. Children will oftentimes have high levels of anxiety and depression as a result of experiencing horror and loss of life, both of loved ones and strangers. Many end up with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The NLM/NIH explains that “They may have to change their moral structure and lie, steal, and sell sex to survive. They may have their moral structure forcibly dismantled and replaced in training to kill as part of a military force.” Sexual assault is becoming a way to wage war now, too, leaving many young girls pregnant or unable to have children. Being taken advantage of physically can result in incredibly traumatic experiences for children both psychologically and on their physical bodies. They can be abused verbally or physically and be taken advantage of.

Children are true victims in the case of war. They are vulnerable because of their age, their size, and their naivety. Children are often lead astray and get involved in things they never wanted to, to begin with. Children need to be helped more than most other people groups. Learn about how children are negatively affected next month, because their education is stolen from them. Feel free to tweet me any thoughts, questions, or comments you may have @johnslifko!

The Torah and The Vedas: A Comparative Study by John Slifko

In March 2016, We Celebrate Women’s History Month

Throughout history, women have driven humanity forward on the path to a more equal and just society, contributing in innumerable ways to our character and progress as a people.  In the face of discrimination and undue hardship, they have never given up on the promise of America:  that with hard work and determination, nothing is out of reach. – President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

In honor of National Women’s History month, the fast-growing family history site, Archives.com, published a visual infographic to honor some of the exceptional women who have made a difference and helped shape our world. In this blog post, I include the top 5 inspirational quotes these women have left behind:

5.Marie Curie Womens History month Celebration on John Slifkos Civil Society Blog site“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie, Polish physicist and chemist 

The importance of Marie Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. Together with her husband, she was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, for their study into the spontaneous radiation discovered by Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of the Prize. In 1911 she received a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, in recognition of her work in radioactivity. She also received, jointly with her husband, the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1903 and, in 1921, President Harding of the United States, on behalf of the women of America, presented her with one gram of radium in recognition of her service to science. – Source: nobleprize.org

4.Harriet Beecher Stowe Womens History Month 2016 on John Slifkos Civil Society blog“Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and author 

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) published more than 30 books, but it was her best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin which catapulted her to international celebrity and secured her place in history.

But Uncle Tom’s Cabin was not Stowe’s only work. Her broad range of interests resulted in such varied publications as children’s text books, advice books on homemaking and childrearing, biographies and religious studies. The informal, conversational style of her many novels permitted her to reach audiences that more scholarly or argumentative works would not, and encouraged everyday people to address such controversial topics as slavery, religious reform, and gender roles.  Harriet Beecher Stowe believed her actions could make a positive difference. Her words changed the world. – Source: harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/

3.Jane Austen celebrating Womens History Month 2016 on John slifkos civil society blog site“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” – Jane Austen, English novelist 

Jane Austen is a world renowned English author and, despite her having lived centuries ago, she commands a legion of fans around the world numbering in the millions today. Her timeless works- numbering just six completed novels- have been turned into a plethora of motion pictures, television shows and modern adaptations at a regular pace in addition to being translated into multiple languages that help her stories surpass cultural boundaries. These six works have gone on to become the model formula for the romance stories of today. – Source: www.janeausten.org

2. Susan B. Anthony Celebrating Womens History Month 2016 on John Slifkos Civil Society blog site“Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” – Susan B. Anthony, Civil rights leader and suffragette

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) is perhaps the most widely known suffragist of her generation and has become an icon of the woman’s suffrage movement. Anthony traveled the country to give speeches, circulate petitions, and organize local women’s rights organizations. Stanton and Anthony founded the American Equal Rights Association and in 1868 became editors of its newspaper, The Revolution. The masthead of the newspaper proudly displayed their motto, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” From 1881 to 1885, Anthony joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage in writing the History of Woman Suffrage. As a final tribute to Susan B. Anthony, the Nineteenth Amendment was named the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was ratified in 1920. – Source: www.nps.gov

1. Eleanor_Roosevelt_celebrating women's history month march 2016 on John Slifkos civil society blog site“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and humanitarian 

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest-serving First Lady throughout her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office (1933-1945). She was an American politician, diplomat, and activist who later served as a United Nations spokeswoman.  When Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors and she transformed the role of First Lady accordingly. She never shirked official entertaining; she greeted thousands with charming friendliness. She also broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day.”

This made her a tempting target for political enemies but her integrity, her graciousness, and her sincerity of purpose endeared her personally to many–from heads of state to servicemen she visited abroad during World War II. As she had written wistfully at 14: “…no matter how plain a woman may be if truth & loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her….” –Source: www.whitehouse.gov 

In conclusion, (and in the words of President Obama): “During Women’s History Month, we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set.”