Social issues spring from ways in which we choose to distance ourselves from others and are challenges to examine what is necessary in order for all members of a community to be treated with dignity and respect. Over the centuries we have developed habits of thought and action based on dualistic assumptions that exacerbate social issues by creating “us-them” dichotomies. For example, we may assume that in order to feel good about ourselves we need to be “better than” others. Ultimately this dualistic approach results in violence towards the “other.” There are many dimensions along which we routinely created dualities – ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, age, ability – but the most fundamental are those of gender and species. If we are to mature as a human family, we need to recognize these dualistic illusions and the prejudices they create and then work actively to eradicate them.
Those who believe that social issues will be resolved through meditation alone may find the discussion on Addressing Social Injustices of interest.
Dr. Riddle’s professional work has been at the forefront of several social issues. She was responsible for beginning the first B.A.-granting women’s studies program in 1972 at what was then Richmond College, now the College of Staten Island, and was a founding member of the Association of Women in Psychology. She went on to do groundbreaking work on homophobia as well as to conduct one of the first studies of children of gay parents:
- “Children of gay parents: Homophobia’s victims” (In I.R. Stuart & L.E. Abt, eds., Children of Separation and Divorce, 1981).
Most recently she has been an active supporter of the work of the Nonhuman Rights Project, which seeks to get the legal standing of nonhuman persons recognized in the courts.