Thursday, March 17, 2011

Intensity, Disability, Giftedness, and Sympathy

1. Did not miss the internet too much, because we had a busy day yesterday.  We had a family gathering.  And I got a package from my sort-of-Australian cousin.   It was a book called Living with Intensity.   I had said something in my blog, and it made my cousin think I might be able to relate to the book. 

She was VERY right.  I read a lot of it yesterday.  I have so much I want to say about it, that I'm overwhelmed.  So I'm just going to say nothing...for now. 

2. Thought of something to say about the book.   I love it because it labels people like me as GIFTED.  That's really cool.  The book shares my viewpoint about humans and psychology, so it's kind of preaching to the choir.  The idea is that we don't all have to be normal.  Sometimes it's good to be above normal, but it can also be challenging because when you have these certain traits, it's hard to live in a world that doesn't always welcome these traits.

The book came at the perfect time, because it dealt with one of the reasons I've been feeling down lately.  It's not just the fact that the world doesn't always easily tolerate someone like me; it's the fact that I'm having trouble tolerating people who are NOT like those of us described in the book.

Then there's the fact that there are people who fit some of the descriptions in the book; and they see these traits as negative.  It's like the email-pal who could relate to my obsession with Australia because she was once obsessed with a country.  She got over it; and it seemed to me she was trying to coax me to get over my passion as well.  When I told her about having other interests besides Australia, she said that was good because otherwise I might have Aspergers.  

I showed someone the book yesterday.  I wanted her to see the various traits, because some of them reminded me of her. I SAW it as positives.  She looked at the list and started saying words like "manic" and "Aspergers".  

Anyway, I'm so damn tired of being the triangle trying to fit into a circle.   But I also need to learn to stop trying to squish the circles into my triangle.     

3. Decided to say that if you read my blog on a regular basis and think Wow, she reminds me so much of me than you might benefit from reading the book.  It might make you feel better about yourself.  If you read my blog on a regular basis and think That girl is mentally ill. She needs help; then you might benefit from reading the book. It could give you a different perspective on things.   

If you read my blog and think That girl is weird....very different.  But that's fine. It's cool with me.  Differences make the world go round; then you probably don't need to read the book.  

4. Got another email in which someone assumed that the title of my blog refers to the Australian starring in one of my biographical posts.  This is the second time it has happened.  I can understand the mistake happening to someone who doesn't have a lot of experience reading blogs.  By just looking at the title of my blog, I can see why someone might think I'm saying Lillian Roxon is that weird American who is obsessed with Australia; or that Deborah Mailman was the girl who wished she was Australian.  HOWEVER, if they took the time to read the blog entry before rushing off to correct and criticize me, they'd realize their mistake.  

5. Read article that says daycare centers will be fined if they don't provide a formal learning framework.   Oh.  Goodness.  And how do they plan to measure this?  I worked at preschools in NYC that really didn't have much of a formal learning framework.  We put out materials for the kids, and they played with them.  We read stories to them.  We sang songs. We watched the kids play, and we interacted with them.  If that's Australia wants from their daycare centers, I have no problem with that.  If they're looking for formal planned curriculum—stuff like worksheets and flashcards; then I am sad for them.

Really.   How do you NOT educate a toddler or preschooler?  I think you'd have to refuse to talk to them, refuse to listen to them, and put them in a padded room that has no stimulation.  Yeah. If a school is providing that type of environment for a child, they should be heavily fined. But if a school provides adequate toys, art materials, conversations, compassion, and books to share together; I'm betting the children will thrive and learn a thing or two.  

6. Read about the viral bullying video, and watched the little news clip that was attached to the article.  I like that it's happened.   I think maybe people will think twice about bullying someone.   Not only do they have to worry about someone fighting back, they also now need to worry about being caught on video.  I think the bully deserved to be shamed.   HOWEVER,  from what I see, it seems some people are going way too far.  I suspect that they're bullies themselves.  I would call these types righteous bullies.   They want to bully others, but at the same time they want to be seen as being good/heroic.  They love having an excuse to attack. I guess it's kind of like George W. Bush.   They attacked us.  Awesome! Now we have an excuse to attack them, and we'll do much worse to them than they did to us.       

In my opinion, it was good that the child fought back. It's great that someone filmed it; and it's good that the bully was shamed for what he has done.  I think this should open up valuable discussion, and it should be a deterrent to other bullies.  But it should not be an excuse for people to have fun with violence, threats, prank calls, etc.  

7. Received my historical buildings of Australia book from Powells; and some other books. I love getting books in the mail!

8. Loved some of Suzanne Boyce's first speech to Parliament. It was done in June 2007. She talks about having a daughter with down syndrome and says:

I am not of the disability as a burden' strand, and I hope that in my time here I can gradually articulate the way that I believe most of the people with a disability that I know, and their families, would like to be viewed and treated.

For me, and for many in the disability sector, the biggest burden is the attitude of others in the community towards disability. Can I just say here that people do not suffer' from down syndrome; they have' down syndrome. It is not a disease; there is no pain; there is no chronic ill health. So people have down syndrome; they do not suffer from it.

People with a disability do not want sympathy, but they do need support.   


I love that, and think it can also be applied to many disabilities. 

The worst thing is to be intolerant and cruel towards people who are different from the norm. But I think the next worst thing is to treat people with pity.  

Now I don't know if I agree that people with disabilities don't want sympathy. It probably depends on the person and the type of disability they have.  I'm not going to feel sympathy for a dwarf or someone who is missing a limb or two.  I won't feel sympathy for someone with mild autism, or someone who manages to function despite having a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  I will feel sympathy for a runner who becomes paralyzed or an artist who loses their sight.  I'll feel sympathy for family members of people who have had extreme personality changes because of schizophrenia, Alzheimers, and/or traumatic brain injury.  I feel sympathy for parents of disabled children, not because they don't have a wonderful child.  But I understand that they often have to work harder than other parents. 

Sometimes sympathy is nice; and I think it's different from pity.  

How is it different?  Maybe sympathy is saying I'll probably be sad if I ever have to go through what you're going through.  Pity is saying Oh yuck. You poor thing. I would hate to be you. 

9. Realized that after reading the book my cousin gave to me, I also have sympathy for parents of gifted children.  It's not just about reading early, having an advanced vocabulary, and excelling at geography tests.  It can be an emotional roller coaster.   

10. Realized after some thinking that EVERYONE deserves some sympathy. Life is hard....no matter who you are.  Maybe just existing within a human body is a disability.  You know what.  I think we're ALL disabled.  We all have things that make our lives challenging, and we should all have sympathy for each other.  

11. Horrified by George Brandis' first speech to Parliament.  This was done in August 2000.  He says, unlike most democracies, Australia has been a democracy from the moment it became a nation. There are very few countries which can make such a claim. We can be proud that, for Australians, it was never necessary to achieve our democracy by violence; that from the time this nation was founded, not a drop of blood has been spilled by Australian fighting Australian in civil conflict.

I'm guessing he doesn't count Aboriginal Australians as being Australian.  Or he's in denial that blood was spilled.   

12. Realized something important.  As we're all disabled, we're also ALL gifted.   I think the one problem in me reading the book, my cousin gave to me, was that it made it tempting to see myself in a special class of people.  I was always jealous and resentful of those people who were given the "gifted label" and now this book said I'm one of them.  Yes, I'm part of the elite! 

But I really think we all have gifts.  I think anyone can look at the traits listed in the book (or on this website, for those who are interested) and see themselves somewhere in there.   Some people (like me) might have a lot of the traits in very intense forms, and others might just have a few, and in milder forms.   These people can look at the list and say Well, I guess I'm not gifted.  But maybe they're gifted in ways that aren't recognized by this particular philosophy.  

When my cousin first sent me the link to the book, the thing I liked most was that it talked about giftedness.  I thought, Wow.  My cousin thinks I'm gifted!!   But now, I disagree with this part.  We shouldn't label people as gifted, because when we do the implication is that other people are NOT gifted. 

We're all gifted.  We're all disabled.  And that's what I think about all of this.

13. Decided that I should TRY not to have such harsh feelings towards people who label me (and others) as being defective and/or sick.  Maybe they're just not as gifted with things such as acceptance, tolerance, and open-mindedness.  But they might be more gifted than me in other areas, such as lyric-memorizing, marketing, juggling and Scrabble. 

The other thing is...there's always a chance for people to grow and learn.   I'm very much against labeling people with psychiatric illnesses and personality disorders.  But that hasn't always been the case.  My major in college was psychology.  What was I most interested in?   Abnormal psychology.   I LOVED labeling people with mental disorders.   I got grief in graduate school because of my love of labeling people.  The school I went to was against labeling children.  I ended up having to rewrite a paper.  I wasn't at all happy about that, and I'm sure I knew that I was right and the school was wrong.  I've come a LONG way since then. 

14. Feel compelled to admit that I can kind of understand Michaelia Cash's point when she said, in her first speech to Parliament, Given that Australia, with 0.32 per cent of the global population, contributes only about 1.43 per cent of total global carbon emissions, the most realistic and beneficial approach for Australia in seeking a global solution is to actively engage the major global polluters, such as China, India and the United States, to significantly reduce their own carbon emissions while at the same time focusing on developing clean fuel technologies which result in lower emissions and which can be exported worldwide.

Before I read this, I was all for the idea of there's nothing wrong with taking the first step, and hoping others will follow in your lead.   But she's right.  Australia does have a smaller population, and I'm guessing that means they produce less carbon emissions.  I'm not going to say I'm against the carbon tax, but I do think it would be wise to work in other directions as well.—such as helping to pressure the United States to make better choices.


15. Looked at Lord Wiki's list of countries and their carbon emissions.   China is #1, and the United States is #2.  Australia is #16.   

Now I'm looking at per capita emissions.  Qatar is the worse there. The United States and Australia are #11 and #12.   China is #80. 

You know what I think this shows;  the best way to limit carbon emissions is to limit population growth.  If you're one of those people who made the conscious decision not to give birth to a child, pat yourself on the back.  Having a child (or more than one) takes huge sacrifices. But it's also a sacrifice NOT to have a child. I'm very thankful to be a mother to my own biological child, but I do sincerely believe that there is a selfishness to wanting and obtaining that.  

16. Started watching a Josh Thomas video because Molly mentioned him in her blog.  I had never heard of him before.   I think he's cute but so far I'm not laughing.   I think when we were in Australia, Molly recommended that I watch Kath and Kim.  I ended up not liking it much.   I'm thinking maybe we're on different wavelengths when it comes to humor.  Though I probably shouldn't make that assumption based on two things.  

Well, I'll watch more of Josh Thomas. I shouldn't judge too quickly.

The part at 2:03 made me smile a bit, but no laughing out loud moments. 

17. Watched another Josh Thomas video.   This is with him talking about So You Think You Can Dance on Good News Week.  I didn't laugh, but I did agree with some of the points made.  

18. Realized why Josh Thomas looked vaguely familiar.   I kind of thought maybe he just reminded me of someone I know.   But he was in this video that I watched a few days ago.  It's part of the Say Something Campaign.   

19. Wondered why Australia and the United States have such similar per capita carbon emissions rates. 

20. Decided that I'm very grateful to my cousin.  She gave me a gift that was VERY much needed at this time in my life.