Monday, August 31, 2009

A Different Perspective

On Facebook, people seem to while away quite a bit of time playing at quizzes. They have imaginitive titles such as What Dead White Girl Poet Are You? Or at least something like that. Which brings me to a Disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: A Facebook friend has warned me that when you take those quizzes on Facebook you are giving away any personal information you have on the program. I am not, therefore, recommending that anyone actually take these quizzes. After all, some quiz-maker at Facebook might find out your religion. That would be far worse than the federal government knowing your genome and your retinal prints, and the fact that you saw a psychiatrist after that really bad breakup in high school. ;)

Anyway, this entry could be entitled something like What P-Word am I?
A few days rest and fielding comments on my last post brings me to one p-word. It is PERSPECTIVE. As I wrote at the end of that post:

My unique mind often causes me to see the glass as not only just half-full, but dusty and cracked as well. I must remind myself that things are likely not nearly as bad as I think they are.

That post was about how I responded badly to an unexpected situation--that of being misjudged by someone, or rather, since the person was basing her judgment on incomplete information, perhaps the word should be pre-judged. (But perhaps not since the PC lexicon would tell us that only disadvantaged minorities can actually experience prejudice). That the situation was unexpected by itself tells you a great deal about the extent of my Aspergian tendencies.

Two interesting things came out of that post. The first was that, although my purpose was simply to tell the story, and thus feel better, I got responses that suggested that I needed to take one or another kind of action in order to fix myself so that I can better conform to this collectivist society's narrowing definition of normal. The second was that, finally having owned my Aspie ways, I realized that I actually like the way I am, and that despite the problems it causes me, I would not have it any other way. I am stubbornly refusing to pretend to be normal. As I read some undoubtedly good and true advice from an undoubtedly concerned friend, I felt myself digging my heels into my Aspie turf and shouting: No! If that is normal, then I don't even want to be normal!

In fact, my reaction reminded me a great deal of the beginning of an essay by a good friend of mine, someone who has as much difficulty pretending to be normal as I do. (Although he shared it on a discussion board, we actually know each other personally, and he's another East Mountain type. Naturally). His essay is called: Don't Be Mad at Me Because I am Sovereign and he begins by saying:

"Don’t be mad at me because I am sovereign. I do not recognize your authority. Your attempt at authority over me is false. I do not recognize false authority. There is only one authority. That is the natural law of God. . .

Man did not create gravity. That is a natural law of God. If you choose not to recognize the natural authority of gravity as you fall from a high place, I suggest that you are missing something important. The flesh on our bodies is considered to be food to a great percentage of the life on this planet. That is the natural law of God. If you choose not to recognize the natural authority of a lion as it eats your flesh, I suggest that you are missing something important.

On the other hand, if you do chose to recognize the authority of another man or woman or group of men or women as they attempt to coerce you into the recognition of some non-natural law that they have fabricated, I suggest again, that you are missing something important.

If you are missing some of those important things, please don’t be mad at me about it! I am just a simple, sovereign man . . .

. . . Is it my problem or yours?

That answer is easy. If we come into conflict over your recognition of false authority, and my lack of recognition of it, the problem lies with you, not me. Don’t expect me to bend. However, you should expect a loss of trust, and potential inability to communicate effectively about meaningful tasks.

Many people believe that life operates as a democracy; that since I, as a minority in my recognition of these seemingly simple concepts, am therefore wrong. I do not accept that. That, in itself, is a belief in the false authority of the majority. Whereas, the natural law of God does not require belief; it just is."
(Raymond Powell, writing as The Rayzer at

I have already come to the conclusion that this narrowing of normal is a dangerous illusion that flies in the face of the natural law that requires "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful . . ." to work its evolutionary magic, as Charles Darwin wrote more than 150 years ago.

But Darwin lived in a different world; one still based on reason and individualism.Whereas this current narrow concept of normal as the be all and end all of life is a collectivist myth that will only make it easier for those who would rule over us to do so. It denies freedom of thought, freedom of action, and the freedom to learn and grow uniquely from the consequences of independent thought and action. It makes it difficult to develop and share new ideas, because "normal" means acceptance of the way things are without thought. Thus, the indoctrination of a narrow normal that has replaced education has taught people only to talk over and shout down, rather than listen and think.

This is not my problem.
My problem has been to refuse to recognize that my differently-wired brain does fit in that narrow range of normal.
Which P-word am I? I am not a Politician. Those social games played in that narrow range of what is normal and acceptable are boringly incomprehensible to me.

When I was in high school, the guidance counselor called me in to discuss my future. She asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Eyes on the floor, I asked her a question in return. "How," I asked, "Does a person become a philosopher?"

I think that was the only time I saw her speechless.
But my peers had already let me know that I was far from normal.

As I think about what P-word am I, I realize that the operative word in my question was not how; it was become.
I am still becoming that other P-word. Philosopher.

I like to think about things outside that narrow range of normal.
I suppose that will get me into more and more trouble as the collectivist dreams of the current crop of politicians narrow normal down until most of us will not be able think or breathe within it.

But that's not my problem. With the Rayzer, I say: Well, don't be mad at me because I'm sovereign.

And I have a new P-word: Perspective.
I need not worry about those who dismiss me or underestimate me or otherwise cannot hear what I have to say or listen long enough to find out who I am.
That's their problem.

I will go on living my life as a free human being. As a sovereign only over myself.


Anonymous said...

I put this comment by mistake in the previous post; it doesn't make much sense there so maybe you can delete it there?

I guess it's a matter of perspective: I'm not finding "normal" any more restrictive than it was when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies. We may be defining more people outside "normal", but we've always treated a fairly large subclass of people as if they were in need of some kind of "improvement", or, worse yet, as "untouchables". As a child I felt the chilling effect of those who would dictate how I talked, how I moved, how I interacted, what I should study. As an adult I experience a personal intellectual freedom (and its expression) limited only by my, er, limitations, and I can see that I've been at least partly successful in transmitting that to my children. It's never been my impression that the ordinary folks of Darwin's day were more likely to be basing their decisions on the application of logic to the facts than those of today. My unschooled kids have been reading about England in the time Cromwell and the Roundheads and the Salem witch trials and the Constitution's restriction of basic rights to a fairly small class of citizens, and if ever reason ruled, it hasn't been in the past few hundred years. I think this country's diversity is one of the forces that keeps those who would make it more homogeneous (far from a new pursuit) awake in their beds at night, wondering: what am I doing wrong? At least I would hope so...


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Deborah:

As someone who has taught special education and regular education over the past 15 years, or otherwise was involved, I definitely have seen the definition of normal narrowed down. When I was in high school mid-70's), I volunteered with special education children in a mainstream classroom.

(I had fulfilled all of my credit requirements by the middle of my junior year, and they didn't know what to do with me. I took electives and volunteered).

At that time, even though obvious special needs were noted, a range of behaviors in all children (shyness, stubbornness, etc.) were considered within the range of normal childhood behaviors. Even children who crossed the line with behaviors were not referred to law enforcement--it was thought better to have parents and teachers deal with it within the family and school.

Now, I see "normal" as increasingly narrowed, so that most of what we would have then called "normal" childhood behaviors either diagnosed as psychopathology or referred to law enforcement, with life-altering consequences devolving upon younger and younger children.

Perhaps the nascent US did have a narrow range of folks to which the rights applied, white, male property owners. Nevertheless the freedom to think and innovate was clearly available to a larger group of people, especially those who moved westward. The social zeitgheist of the early Republic was vastly different from that under the English dominion prior to the revolution. This freedom to innovate, and the regional cultural differences both made the free-market take off and took us from 5000 year-old agricultural techniques to landing on the moon in less than 200 years. (See historian Gordon S. Wood's The Radicalism of the American Revolution for a more comprehensive discussion.

That there are social issues for those who are different is an entirely different problem than when there are legal restrictions, or even official restrictions in the public schools. As long as people are free to associate with whom they please, free to choose educational opportunities that fit their needs, and free to move about, these can be handled. This was not true in the rigid social hierarchies of Continental Europe, it was more true in post-Glorious Revolution in England, and it was very true in the young US republic.

As we have shredded the Constitution, and erected the Nanny State, we have have seen a progressive (hmmm--origin as well as trajectory?) narrowing of what is normal.