"The Caring Society" seems like a timely topic for the holiday season, which -- when stripped down to its essence -- is all about the renewal of hope and possibility. It's also one of those rare occasions when we're prodded to reflect on our common humanity, and allow our hearts to open; to remember that joy comes from giving as well as receiving; to acknowledge that there is too much bad in the world, but also the capacity to do great good; and to act from the understanding that of all human powers, love matters most.
In my final essay of 2007, I write about how this field of knowledge -- the knowledge accumulated through the everyday experience of relational life, as well as compassionate spiritual traditions -- can help us conceptualize the grounding principles of a different kind of political culture (The Caring Society).
There are caring people in every society, but not all societies are caring societies -- and one important element separating caring societies from uncaring ones is how well public policies satisfy the combined goals of promoting economic growth, reducing disparities in well-being, and fostering human development. In the last fifty years, the United States has done a bang-up job of stimulating economic growth, yet has failed miserably at assuring equal access to the services, opportunities, wages, and resources required for a baseline level of well-being. For example, the US is missing a specific set of health, labor, and social insurance policies that promote the financial security of working families and the healthy development of children -- policies such as universal health care, paid parental leave, and a minimum number of paid sick days. That may be changing soon, however, if any of the leading Democratic candidates wins the next Presidential election. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards have all announced plans to help Americans reconcile work and family; this month's edition includes a commentary on their respective plans, and a side-by-side comparison of the candidates' proposals.
Also in this month's Features section: in Camping While Black, first-time contributor Deb Pleasants writes about the impact of racism across three generations of her African American family. In Essays, Monica Crumback writes about her delight -- and self-doubts -- prompted by her daughter's passion for all things Batman at an age when other little girls are preoccupied with princesses, princesses, and more princesses (Girl + Bat = Happy). Returning writer Shannon Hyland-Tassava muses on the subtleties of negotiating the sharing part of shared parenting, and Erica Etelson has something pointed to say about the mainstream parenting magazine industry.
In Opinion & Commentary, Megan Beyer writes about her famous look-alike, Hillary Clinton, as a political figure and Presidential contender -- and why she's supporting another candidate. And in Books, regular contributor Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser reviews a new anthology about the intricacies of women's reproductive experiences ("Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood and Abortion," edited by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont). Don't forget to check out the Get Active page for new calls for proposals and conference listings, including information about the National Association of Mothers Centers Mothers '08 Conference.
In this month's Noteworthy, you'll find the usual roundup of research summaries and links to notable news and commentary from around the World Wide Web. Reports published in the last month seem to be mostly of the bad news variety: New studies by Demos and the Economic Mobility Project report on the economic insecurity of middle-class families and the trend toward neutral or negative income mobility for American families across generations. A critical report on the over-representation of African American children in the US foster care system -- released by the Government Accountability Office earlier this year -- is now available online. And a recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that work, money, and parenting are a major source of stress for American adults, with two-thirds of working parents reporting that work demands interfering with family responsibilities is a significant cause of stress. Also in Noteworthy, highlights and recommendations from a new international study on the relationship between work-life reconciliation policies and variations in maternal employment, fertility rates, child poverty, and other social indicators in OECD countries. Plus the usual sampling of links to interesting and informative articles on work & family, motherhood & mothering, women's issues, and reproductive health.
For readers who missed last month's announcement, there are changes in store for the MMO in 2008, starting with the addition of a weekly blog, which is scheduled to launch in mid-January. The web magazine will shift to publishing six times a year, with the first 2008 edition -- on Pregnancy and Childbirth -- appearing in late February (deadline for submissions is February 1). The full 2008 Editorial Calendar with submission deadlines and topics for the coming year is now available (in .pdf). I hope every reader will download a copy and consider submitting an essay, commentary, or review in the months ahead. As always, visit the Submissions page for more information, or email email@example.com.
Since there's no shortage of good reading in this edition, I will not distract you further by ruminating on the past year and what lies ahead. Suffice to say, the world is changing. And I believe there's a good chance that if we work together, we can move things in a better direction than the one we're headed in right now.
Thanks to all our contributors, past and present -- without your voices, the MMO would be a pale shadow of what it is today. For you, I imagine a better world. And I promise to keep fighting for it.
May love, joy, and shared prosperity come to you in the New Year. And may our leaders govern with humility and compassion by staying to the path of justice.
Judith Stadtman Tucker
Editor, The Mothers Movement Online