Women require information to govern in a democratic fashion just as do men. Understanding the evolution of a government, the systems from which it emerged, is essential to preservation, and betterment, of that government. Trajectories are real aspects of living systems and exert influence on contemporary processes.
From 18th century France, there were three estates of society:
- the clergy (religious heads)
- the nobility (rulers)
- the commoners (everyone else who is not a slave)
Among the political commentators and thinkers, the media has been labelled as the fourth estate of modern day.
In modern democracy, the three pillars include:
- the legislature (makes laws)
- the executive (president or prime minister)
- the judiciary (the courts)
The media has been labeled as the fourth estate of modern society.
The Fifth Estate, which has been labeled citizen journalism, has beeen broken down, I would argue incorrectly, into two types of journalism. The first being an extension of The Fourth Estate and the second as some sort of standalone pillar. In fact, to take the property analogies of estates and pillars of society one step further, I contend that information that can stand alone apart from a voice that speaks it, as is the case in a pamphlet, a book, or a digital transmission is the beam, brace, or buttress that makes pillars on estates into the cultural home in which we live.
Living systems, and we live within and are a part of a living system, are open systems.
I am not going to go any deeper into systems theory, self- organizing systems, or cybernetics, (but I would note, as an aside, that if you want to understand systems science through a woman’s eye, look at some Lynn Margulis quotes.)
Life requires change and the ability to bring in new elements and energy, as well as to delete, turn-off, or store-away other elements and processes, including tinformation paths and flow.
The transitions we are experiencing in the world are becoming more and more dramatic as we are living on the fulcrum of a tipping point where we cannot long balance; change will happen and the slightest actions, or inaction, by individuals can and will change the direction, the trajectory, of the path upon which we will find ourselves.
We do not know how this will all shake out. New technology brings new behavior. Gutenberg could not have known, nor could Martin Luther, that when Luther posted his 95 Theses, 500 years ago, that others would find his words so moving that they would use the new tech of the printing press to print and distribute hundreds, then thousands, of copies of Luther’s discussion points in what was literally the first viral post.
Women’s voices are strong, and the distributed nature of the digital web is quite feminine and whether we are using hashtags (#meto #timesup #shepersisted) or writing our own theses, we are engaged in public communication as people have been since the first humans gathered around an evening fire. Citizen journalism is a good thing if done with care. Most of us know which people we can rely on to give us good information. We know which bloggers, editorial writers, and cartooniswts we can trust to base their works, including opinion pieces, to be based in fact. How those facts are interwoven into “truths” are far more problematic. When we give our time and eyes to uncritically watching or reading “news” that is not reporting facts but into building viewers or followers, we are hurting ourselves and world that we communally build with our consumption and conversations.
We must, as women who are approaching 100 years of having the vote in the United States, become as responsible and careful with the information we create or share as we are with the food we give our children and families to build bodies. We are powerful and we hold the information that builds our children’s minds and our future knowledge used by our society in our hands.
Our mothers and grandmotherws figured out how to make cakes during the rationing of sugar during World War II.
We must figure out how to make our homes and businesses equally celebratory as we ration ourselves to verified information.
We must educate ourselves and navigate the current estates and pillars with a fervor that only mothers acting to preserve what they love can act.
I feel like I must help steady the boat by bringing thoughtful questions to the surface, and showing my students how to find reliable sources. Verified information is crucial to our democratic society. The kids need the facts to make change with a lasting impact. Did you hear that one young lady last night at CNN’s Town Hall? She was thanking the teacher who helped her shape her thoughts for her speech “I call BS!”