Wednesday, June 25, 2008

amanda; changing the world

after writing this, i'm unsure wether or not i should post it. not because i don't think the matter is less important than i thought, but rather for the fear of my own opinion and feelings about it might be misinterpreted. i'm not a child in the zoo, fascinated by the animals in the cage. i'm a living being, marvelling at the facets of the living world and also marvelling at the limitedness of our perception.

some of you might not know, but back in school i spent a great deal of time with pedagogy classes. personally, i strongly dislike using that name for them, for i think it conveys a false image of them, but i'll go with the name now.
for those who don't know, the german school system [back when i was schooled] allowed for an almost highschool-like specialisation in subjects during the last 3 years. that meant us choosing subjects, in a limited range of possibilities and dependencies [if you choose a and not b you have to also choose c]. out of all the subjects, everyone has two majors, with which you spend a larger amount of weekly hours and thus specialise into the subject, and those were for me english and pedagogy. from english class one couldn't really expect much more than literature education with some cultural studies. pedagogy on the other hand was blessed by a very dedicated teacher and i can say it is probably the subject in which i learned the most valuable things [to me] during my whole career in school.
much more than just pedagogy in a strict sense, the class' content was about a wide range of psychology and education. we learned about a variety of educational concepts, school systems and not only read but discussed a lot of research and view on both mental and physical disorders and disabilities. again, words that i don't really want to use in this context, but i guess they convey roughly what i mean.
thus, i am naturally very interested in what i stumbled across, a few days ago:

over another blog, i found an article that changed part of my view of the world. i don't intend to gloss or comment the article, so please take some of your time and read it [at least the first page] and be sure to watch the embedded video.
now that you've read it, i assume, you might understand or imagine what i am referring to. autism and asperger's have always been of great interest to me, or i should rather say: the people who are labeld as such. this sudden [for me, that is] and so very direct view through the eyes of an autistic person created an avalanche of thoughts, for which i am truly grateful.
to get a view on the nature of such a very different mind, not from a scientist or therapist but the person herself, usually seen as mute, unable to communicate or locked in their own world shatters what we [i] think of ourselves and anybody around us.

imagine you'd be someone else. but really, imagine! often in my life, i've tried, tried to picture what it would be like to see colours differently with the eyes and brain of someone else. to hear the same things differently, to think in different ways... i've always wanted to swap brains for a day. or at least the receptive parts of the brain and somehow keep enough of my brain to get experience out of the whole endeavour. anyhow, i'm getting carried away.
imagine, our spoken language [and i'm referring to all spoken languages as one here] is just one single method of communication. just one. and there are so many more! take children born deaf for example. they don't grow up mute. they might grow up audibly mute, but that doesn't mean they don't develop language just as we do in our early childhood. the brain simply uses other methods to form a mother tongue, in that case often sign language. but that image is still fairly easy to comprehend for us; since it only replaces spoken words with gestures. now imagine it'd be altogether different, not only the method of expressing your language, but also the mode, the recipients, the semantics [or being rather freed of what we call semantics].
imagine all the things we, the normal people, don't notice; aren't aware of; have no reception of; have no access to... imagine how rich the world is, beyond what we notice.

as in so many fields, human variety and difference is simply so much bigger than we usually think or perceive, in our societies protecting themselves by propagating ideals and model states. how could this work, if every single human would be given the same respect and importance, however different they might be from the norm? the systems in which we live now couldn't take such a divergence and variation in thought, skill, appearance and communication.
but that is exactly what we should strive for. that is exactly what we all should help people like amanda baggs in.  to try, with each one of our little hands [each having a different shape, different skills and different weaknesses], to make a little crack into the stiff fabric of our restrictive societies.

of course, one might rightfully say that there are as many inequities as there are human beings, and each of them, i am sure, is absolutely worth dedicating your energy for. however, each one of us has the choice for which ones he or she acts, and as i pointed out, there are things that have always been dear to my heart, as there are things dear to the heart for everyone.
just like with the tibet issue and many others, which occupy my thoughts, the best first step is telling people about it. because, really, there is such a lack of knowledge and information in this globalised world.

that is the simple reason for which i wrote all this. not to show what an amazing and caring and oh-so-concerned person i am, but just because i want to give you the chance to know.
and who knows, you might be interested, you might be caring. or you might be just interested but caring about something else. or you might not be interested in the whole subject, but interested in many other things. all is fine, but choice is silver and knowledge, however little, about these things is gold.

in case you do care and want to get active, i guess referring you to amanda's blog should be enough to get you started. from there, i'm sure you'll find your paths with ease.


Anne said...

Many thanks for this information on a subject which I do not know much, but now a little more about. I do care about it, I am interested in it and I am glad that you gave me the opportunity to do so. Küsschen, A.

saturninus said...

I think it is good that you finally posted this entry. it doesn't even seem naive.