Part 2: The Difference Between Narrow- Mindedness and Ignorance

(Part 1)

Ignorance

They recognise their own ignorance: There is no shame in acknowledging that we are all ignorant – whether we are rich or poor, male or female, able or disabled, from the frigid North Pole to the scorching hot dunes of the Sahara, we are all ignorant about something. Despite what you’ve been hearing from the hyper-political media of today, ignorance knows no people group. It’s okay to acknowledge this reality. Not only is this okay but recognising the ignorance inside all of us can humble and unify us.

However, if we allow ourselves to think that we are more ignorant than we really are, we might turn ourselves into the victims of narrow-minded people – this can happen to people who are in manipulative relationships with their “friends”, or even with their own family members. These are narrow-minded people who choose to remain willfully blind to their own ignorance so that they can gleefully revel in yours. They can make themselves look like the good guy to you because they make you feel guilty for things that you shouldn’t feel bad about. For example, maybe you’re a man who has to deal with a third-wave feminist telling you that you are part of the “tyrannical” patriarchy.

If you suspect that you are the victim of someone who fits the criteria of a narrow-minded person, don’t be afraid to be sincere and stand up for yourself. If you don’t, you will continuously feel like the impossible is being expected from you. You will be like a rubber band that the other person tries to stretch beyond your limit. Once you snap, you will backlash into their face making them angrier at you than they were before. If you feel like you are being stretched too thin don’t hide your true feelings for too long. Even if you’re aware that you don’t know this person’s experience, don’t doubt that you are in the right by calling him or her out for their closed-minded attitude towards you.

Unknown

Temporary denial: This past summer I found myself in a situation where I thought that people were acting closed-minded towards me, but in reality, I don’t think they intended to be closed-minded. My job search councillor sent me to a meeting with two people who run a career-search workshop. When I got there, these people acted shocked by my life experience that was very different from theirs—they reacted negatively to the things that I haven’t done yet before they knew what I have done. Their emotions seemed to go in this order: unbelief, shock, anger, disappointment and then pity. From their tone of voice, and their impulsive jump into an emotional reaction, my first impression was that they were unopen and unwilling to understand my history, and current situation from growing up as an autistic Military brat moving every two to four years.

I wrote a narrative about my time with them from my perspective, and then e-mailed it to them with a carbon copy to my job search councillor. My job search councillor helped me to see things differently. I realize now that the way I wrote my narrative made me sound closed-minded. She helped me to understand where I might have misinterpreted them. She called the work shop people right after getting my carbon copy. She told me what they said to her—they told her that they learned a lot from what I wrote. I don’t know the background of these people, but somebody told me after this event that people who seldom move may struggle to understand a different kind of life outside of their home town. No matter what the situation, I think that not understanding me right off the bat wasn’t their fault. However, I do wish that they’d reply to my apology e-mail so that I’d know for sure that they forgave me, and that I forgave them.

Were we being narrow-minded, or just ignorant? I don’t know. This is where the barrier between the two starts to become hazy. These two people and myself seem to have fallen into this blurry in-between area. Sometimes emotions cause us to fall into a state of denial against whatever we are hearing or seeing. It’s easy to misunderstand this reaction as closed-mindedness when, in fact, denial might just be the first step in hearing information that seems shocking at first exposure.

This might also be why denial is known as the first step people go through while grieving. In good conscience, we would never say that someone who’s grieving, and experiencing denial is “closed-minded to reality”. We know that it’s nothing more than a temporary reaction to something the person had previously felt was impossible.

Conclusion

I hope that this two part blog post helped you to see ignorance in a more nuanced light. The world today makes ignorance seem so much simpler than it really is and that causes us to hurt each other – can we think differently about this?

Netivity

Christmas will be here in just a few days—Christmas is a time to remember when forgiveness came to us in the form of a newborn baby. When the baby grew up, He showed us how to let go of our narrow-mindedness so that we can see ourselves in others. Try to see yourself in Justin Trudeau—try to see yourself in Donald Trump—this will be hard if you dislike one or both of these men, but it’s worth a try.  I can now see a glimpse of myself in the workshop owners because I know that I reacted similarly towards them to how they reacted towards me.  However, this was just a glimpse.  I still forget my own faults, and then accuse others for shortcomings that I’ve also been guilty of.  The journey towards self-awareness will never end in this life; however, If we are willing to see ourselves in others, we will still be ignorant, but we will never again be narrow-minded.

Let’s bravely say what we truly feel about narrow-mindedness, and have more mercy for other people’s, and our own ignorance.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

Part 1: The Difference Between Narrow-Mindedness and Ignorance

Where do we draw the line between narrow-mindedness and ignorance? The line is very fine, so it is difficult to detect it in other people, and even in ourselves; however, it’s important that we learn how to recognize the difference between the two — terrible things can happen if we don’t. We can end up causing a lot of pain because we misunderstood someone else’s ignorance as closed-mindedness, or they misunderstood us in this same way. Knowing the difference between the two might prevent us from expecting others to pay an unrealistic price that shouldn’t have to be paid – all because they, just like us, don’t know everything about the world.

Ignorance is usually harmless, but if we deny that we are ignorant our innocence turns into narrow-mindedness. If we see ourselves as knowing everything, then naturally, we will see others as stupid, uninformed, and maybe even evil.

I decided to split this blog post into two parts.  Today I will list three traits of narrow-minded people.  Tomorrow I will post about one trait of ignorance, and then I’m going to talk about a time this year when I couldn’t recognize the difference between the two in myself and others—I’m going to tell you the story that inspired me to write this blog post in the first place.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part about ignorance, and to read my story.  In the meantime prepare for yourself a steaming hot cup of cocoa (a couple gingerbread and shortbread cookies can’t hurt either) , get comfortable, and join me as we contemplate on three traits of narrow-mindedness that we should look out for in ourselves and others.

Hot Cocoa

Narrow-Mindedness

Calls other people “ignorant”: Whenever I look at media today, the news, internet, etc., I notice a strange trend. The characters on our electronic screens point their fingers at others and call them “ignorant” as if not knowing things makes them evil.  You don’t know anything about Indigenous culture?! “If you are not Indigenous yourself, don’t appropriate that culture and risk misrepresenting it”, or you might learn from your human tendency to be curious about what you are ignorant about. (Gasp! How awful would learning from our ignorance be?)

There is nothing wrong with being ignorant – absolutely nothing.  This word is being overused in a negative way by people who want it to have a strictly negative meaning. We are all ignorant, so if we call others “ignorant” out of pride or spite we risk acting like closed-minded hypocrites.  Whenever we are learning something new we need to start somewhere–we have to start off as being ignorant before we can become informed.  Where else can we start?

They do whatever it takes to avoid understanding you: Some children cover their ears to avoid listening to others; once people grow up, however, this behaviour becomes socially unacceptable. Because of this, adults might resort to other means. These means can include beginning a conversation with someone else while you are trying to talk to them, giving you a dirty look while you are trying to express yourself, changing the subject, or simply walking away to do something else.

Sometimes they will also use noise to block out information that others are trying to give to them. If there have been people in your life who tend to do this, you know that you feel trapped in their presence. If you try to sincerely express your own feelings to them, you can’t get a word in edgewise before they begin to shout at you angrily, roar with laughter, or burst into tears. They sabotage your freedom for the sake of their own.

If these things only last a short while, and later this person shows some willingness to communicate with you to find the truth, this may have not been closed-mindedness in the first place. Maybe this person was just confused or scared. Maybe he or she is now seeking forgiveness and trying to help you to understand what you did that upset them so that you know what you need to be forgiven for. However, if this person never shows any intention to understand you, or helping you to understand them, then this person is choosing to remain closed-minded.

They don’t believe in potential, and the need to change: How often have you heard people say, “You/I don’t need to change anything about your/myself”, “I am perfect just the way I am”, or “you are perfect just the way you are” as if these are complements? This philosophy is rooted in subjectivism, also known as relativism. I spoke about relativism in a blog post called “Smallfoot – Objectivism vs. Subjectivism”. Whenever people say these things, I believe that they want to hold onto their own opinions about you, and themselves whether these opinions are good, bad, true, or false. I know for a fact that I need to change – I need to get better at seeing the good in other people, and to develop my own potential to see other’s potentials. I would hope that others would want to see potential in me to become a better person than I am now — I am not “perfect just the way I am”. If they don’t believe in the need to change their own false perceptions of me, or my own false presuppositions of them, then they are acting like closed-minded relativists. I want to see potential in people who don’t believe in potential. Is that a bad thing?

(Part 2)

Smallfoot – Objectivism vs. Subjectivism

Smallfoot Several months ago, I watched the movie Smallfoot in the theater, and its message really resonated with me. For a children’s movie, its theme was very philosophically mature — maybe even more mature than most movies made for adults today. Plenty of reviews online say that this movie is ‘cute and funny for children while also being well-made, but unoriginal and kind of forgettable’. I must disagree. Sure, it’s not perfect, but I find this movie extremely original. I believe that Smallfoot tries to reveal a step forward for us as a society that is invisible to many people. This movie exercises a theme that has hardly ever been brought to the big screen in these post-modern times without catering to Christians in the western world – this movie is about searching for the absolute truth.

As I was watching this movie, I sensed that the writer really felt the weight of todays ideological war between objectivists and subjectivists. To clarify what I mean by these two terms, I define objectivists as people who believe in facts over opinions and subjectivists as people who believe in opinions over facts.

As a Christian, I also felt that this story was written by somebody who is moved by the Holy Spirit. After a little bit of research, it turned out that my intuition may not have been far off.

According to Movieguide.org, the script was written by a Christian screenwriter named Clare Sera. In an interview, she expresses her awareness of the dangers of demonizing people who aren’t us, especially because we all sin. She says it best like this: “I’m so tired of us making monsters of each other. Which is the major theme in the movie. I understand it’s an easier narrative to dismiss someone if you think they’re evil, and it’s fun because it makes you all the more righteous! But I’m not God. I don’t know who’s righteous or evil in His sight. I just see every single person falling short of His Glory and that includes me.”

What does demonizing others have to do with objectivism or subjectivism? I will answer this question with another question: Do we rely on our own subjective illusions/opinions about other people, or are we patient enough to learn the complex, objective truth about other people that might reveal that they are less different from us than we originally thought? Sera said, “I understand it’s an easier narrative to dismiss someone if you think they’re evil, and it’s fun because it makes you all the more righteous!” Whenever we dismiss others as being completely evil, we can never be wrong in our own eyes. In the same way, whenever we believe that we can never be wrong, or that we don’t have to change, we can’t prevent ourselves from believing that other people are evil. I see no way of escaping this cycle of cause and effect.

Due to the gradual development of subjectivism over the past few decades this mindset has grown into a monster. If a subjectivist has a negative opinion about another person, they will most likely count their own feelings about that person as being completely valid before taking the time to know him/her. We are seeing this happen whenever people get dismissed or attacked for denying that the patriarchy is a grand conspiracy to hold women down.  I can say that I don’t feel oppressed as a woman, and a subjectivist would be likely to brush it off or call me ‘privileged’ for some other reason.  We are seeing this happen whenever people question the motives of the “Black Lives Matter” movement because this movement has been put on a pedestal without any clear, objective meaning behind it, and without a clear answer to why they regard the statement “It’s Okay to be White” as being a disgrace.  To a subjectivist, the truth is relative even when taking other people into consideration.  If people seem good, they are completely good.  If people seem bad, they are completely bad.  If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

IT IS A DUCK.png

We all have tendencies towards acting on our own subjective thoughts even if we’re trying to be objective. We see this happen in the movie when Migo (a yeti) assumes that Percy (a human) doesn’t have any language skills because Migo only hears gibberish when Percy talks.  Percy assumes that Migo is a scary monster who wants to eat him when, in fact, he’s just trying to be friendly.  I see this happen whenever people think that I have nothing important to say because of my struggles with face-to-face interactions.  However, I am certain that there have been many times when people were interested in trying to understand the things that I was trying to say, but I didn’t recognize it in the moment. My mind’s view of you is extremely flawed, as is your mind’s view of me.

We live in a time when it seems that the harder we try to connect with others, the more other’s opinions will create a distance between themselves and us. These opinions, or illusions, can be enforced with religions, -isms, and world-views as represented by the machine in the movie (spoilers ahead).

snow covered mountain

We are told at the beginning of the movie that the yetis believe they live on a mountain that sits on the back of mammoths and float on a massive sea of clouds, and that there is nothing underneath the mammoths but darkness. We are also told that they believe the sun is a giant glowing snail in the sky — it doesn’t wake up until a yeti hits a gong.  This job currently belongs to Migo’s dad — a job that’s expected to be inherited by Migo in the near future.

After Migo explores the world underneath the clouds and sees no mammoths or darkness, but instead encounters the truth of human existence, he begins to question everything that he was taught. The Stonekeeper, an elderly yeti who wears the community’s laws on stones like a suit of protective armor, learns about Migo’s discovery of humans, aka small feet.  Out of fear for the community’s future the Stonekeeper reveals their grim history of trying to befriend humans to Migo — He told Migo that a long time ago humans attacked yetis before they got a chance to know them.  Soon after this the Stonekeeper reveals the massive machine that keeps the illusion going – a machine built inside the mountain that creates steam around it to maintain the illusion that they are floating on clouds. As the Stonekeeper is revealing this factory of turning gears and puffing steam to the younger yeti he raps these words:

“Every job and every task as pointless as it seems

all of it ensures that this important machine

keeps turning and turning and spinnin’ around

so those below don’t look up and those above don’t look down

and they’ll look ‘cause even if they hear of these atrocities

the only thing stronger than fear is curiosity.”

What kind of curiosity is the Stonekeeper talking about? Is he speaking about the curious notion that humans may not be purely bad, but instead, nuanced, and curious themselves? Is he referring to the curious thought that history might be more complex than he assumes it is? At the beginning of his rap he says “…we used to live down there but there were actions that we could not forgive down there.” By not being curious himself he seems to be denying that humans can ever be curious, or open-minded about yetis.  A lack of curiosity regarding the objective truth about other people will naturally lead to unforgiveness.

It’s a lack of forgiveness, and a lack of belief in other people – it’s a lack of belief that we can or need to change, and that other people can and should change, that causes us to hang by the thread of subjectivism. It won’t hold. I’m seeing the thread break. Our world is politically polarized right now. This ideological war is subjectivists vs. objectivists.  The subjectivists seem to be leftists, and the objectivists seem to be libertarians (classical liberals) and conservatives.  On one hand, the subjectivists are holding on tightly to their own opinions about other people; on the other hand, the objectivists are Christians, Agnostics, Atheists, and many others who believe in objective truth, all the while watching the train wreck that is happening on the far left. As we watch this train wreck, we notice how a lack of forgiveness over the sins of our ancestors, and a lack of desire for knowing the objective, nuanced, and often messy truth about who we all are as human beings can destroy us.  We do not want to become like the subjectivists. What can we do about this problem? Can we be curious? I believe that the more we allow ourselves to learn about how human nature unites us, the closer we will come to the transcendent truth.

The Difference between Autistic Pride, and Autism Acceptance

baby children cute dress In a 2013 interview on YouTube, Temple Grandin said “Autism is an important part of who I am, and I like my logical thinking, but I consider myself a college professor first—my career comes first. I’m getting worried about too many kids getting hung up on their autism. I’d rather get them hung up on computer science or being a journalist—something that they can make a career out of.” (The Economist)

This quote has remained in the back of my mind for a long time, and just recently it has resurfaced. I realize that I now share Temple Grandin’s concerns more than ever before. We live in a world that advocates not only for autism acceptance, but also for autistic pride. I believe that pride and acceptance are two completely different things. While I am afraid that autistic pride can block potential, I also believe that autism acceptance is needed for autistic people like myself to reach our full potential. Through this blog post I will share my current opinions about the differences between pride and acceptance. I also want to address the shortcomings that I see with autistic pride, and the good that I see in autism acceptance.

What are the differences?

Autistic Pride:  Not a lot of people know about autistic pride, but it does exist, and it’s very real. I have struggled with this form of pride in my own life. Fighting against this sense of pride within myself has completely transformed my worldview.  I have grown to become very sensitive to this feeling that seems to linger behind many more labels besides the label ‘autism’.Rainbow Infinity SymbolThere is even a day devoted to this phenomenon. June 18th is known as Autistic Pride Day.  This day is represented by a rainbow infinity symbol (shown above). The website Awarenessdays.com says that “this annual event was first celebrated by Aspies for Freedom in 2005 and they modelled Autistic Pride Day on the gay pride movement.”

I’m concerned about today’s general emphasis on pride in the labels that society assigns to us, and that we assign to ourselves.  My concern is that this form of pride might keep us stuck with our own opinions, and prevent us from being open-minded.

“Autism” is nothing more than a word that’s being used as an attempt to encapsulate unknowns about human complexity — it’s useful, but it’s not perfect. If we tie ourselves to this word as if it’s a badge of honour I’m deeply concerned that we won’t explore our potentials beyond the ‘autism’ categorization. We have created a community revolving around this word that we call the ‘autism community’.  To a certain extent that’s fine, but I believe that just like anyone else we are meant to branch out as individuals seeking gifts, and truth that is bigger than ourselves.

This is what I believe that we need to do—we need to branch out, but can we do this alone? This is where autism acceptance comes into play.

Autism Acceptance:  Acceptance seems to work as a two-way street. If we open our minds up to others, they might open their minds to us, and vice versa — as a result we can help them to help us incorporate ourselves into the world. If we are struggling to communicate, how can we open our minds to others? I believe that we can do this through our gifts. It’s easy to assume that presenting our gifts or talents to the world is an arrogant thing to do.  We might think that we are showing off; however, I believe that revealing our gifts does the exact opposite of that — gifts are shared with other people. They help others to empathize with us, and us to empathize with them. We are supposed to share our gifts.  We shouldn’t hog them all to ourselves.

April 2nd shares two different names: Autism Awareness Day, and Autism Acceptance Day. Several years ago I was given the opportunity to sing at an Autism Awareness Day event, and my friend presented his gorgeous, heart-felt sketches of elephants along with other wild animals, and colourful paintings of fruits and flowers.  His artwork was presented in a slide show along with the song “How Great Is Our God”.  This song was glorifying someone much greater than a worldly label–it was glorifying the God who gives each and every one of us gifts.

As we were revealing our talents that we have been developing and refining through a never-ending process of transformation and improvement, the label ‘autism’ could have easily been pushed to the side.  People find unity in witnessing and sharing in other people’s gifts because they represent the fact that no matter what, we are all transforming and improving, and we all have stories to tell even if we don’t have the words.

No matter what you call April 2nd, that day can be very flexible, while Autistic Pride Day seems to be rigidly fixed into the notion that we exist, and that we should be proud to be autistic. The impact of April 2nd events all depends on the people who are moving the organized autism-centered events forward. It can be a day of open-minded discussions about autism, but it can also remain closed-off to discussions. Some events might treat autism like a deadly disease (hopefully not too many), while others might treat it as a unique part of humanity, but from there fall into the limiting “be proud to be autistic” mindset.  An April 2nd autism-centered event can also involve many different people who hold different views about autism, and hopefully this would open up opportunities for constructive debates. In my opinion, this is the best set-up; this would create a safe environment for debate and allow for diverse views on the subject to be represented. Not only do I want to see if I can make strong arguments against someone else’s views, but I also want to see if others can make good arguments against my own views.

Even now, you may have great arguments against the position that I have taken here. If so, I want to know what you have to say so that I can continue my never-ending process of transformation and improvement.  I encourage you to share your views in the comment section.

Conclusion

To other autistics out there, I have a few questions — can we seek acceptance from others if we are preoccupied with the autism community as being the center of our identity? How can we seek acceptance from others if we close ourselves off within the autism community while complaining about how the outsiders don’t understand us? Why not help them to understand us? This is what autistic pride can do to us — it can make us love ourselves, but it can also turn us into a tribe against the world who talks about acceptance, but deep down wants to remain segregated from the world. We exercise a twisted form of tyranny if we deliberately prevent others from connecting with us just because we want to remain proud, separate, and unique. We should be open and curious about other people’s ideas, and I hope that others will be open and curious about our ideas. Social skills, and morality are not the same things. Even though socialization is hard for us our conscience can help us to discern if we are treating others with love, and if others are treating us with patience and love.

April is just a few days away now. You don’t have to agree with what I have said, but as the next three months roll by, I encourage anyone who is reading this to be vigilant. If you see something — anything — a video, a poster, or anything else that revolves around the word ‘autism’, I want you to ask yourself this question: “Does this possess the spirit of pride, or the spirit of acceptance and unity?”

Learning To Work with Masculine Archetypes

The Gilligans and the Skippers

Gilligan and Skipper

Before my Jordan Peterson fan days, you would have heard me talk a lot—and I mean a lot about the old television show ‘Gilligan’s Island’. To my family this level of obsession is seen as normal, but this would probably seem odd to most people who know that I’m a millennial who never grew up with this show, and who don’t know how my brain works. Why did I enjoy this show so much? It was the archetypes.

Although the female characters were basic according to today’s standards, (and even a little too creepy at times), the male characters have laid out a variety of personalities that we have all seen before and has remained standing for decades without falling. We have probably all seen comedies or cartoons that incorporate the idea of the cowardly man, the bold hero, the millionaire, and the genius in one way or another. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ lays these archetypes out clearly and doesn’t hold one archetype above the other.

Gilligan keeps looking up to the Skipper as a higher standard of courage and strength to strive for even if his efforts to reach them seem to be in vain, and the Skipper never gives up on his little buddy. There’s an immense amount of patience that these two characters need to devote to each other throughout every episode because they are so different and unchanging. There is little to no character development in this show, but the characters’ obliviousness to the fact that they will never change keeps them patient with themselves, and each other.

If patience was lost, and if one character completely lost respect for the other, and the writer, Sherwood Schwartz took the side of one character in their arguments as he was writing the scripts, this show would have turned into a form of propaganda that closely resembles what we see today, and it would have not been fun anymore.

The Cultural Backlash

What seems to be happening now that we hold one male archetype above the other? Here is what I think is going on: The Skippers are being blamed for ‘toxic masculinity’ by third-wave feminists, and the Gilligans are being taught by them that looking up to the Skipper is evil. The Gilligans are afraid to question the feminists because they know that questioning will mean being kicked while they are already down so that they can’t fight back. Some Skippers give up on the Gilligans’ potential, and some Gilligans give up on learning from the Skippers, and even start to believe along with the feminists that the big guys really are evil.

This is the simplest way that I know of how to explain the masculinity crisis in my girly, biased perspective. In reality it appears to be more complex than that. You can’t simply define the Gilligans and the Skippers. Jordan Peterson himself seems to be a combination of both characters, and naturally, there seems to be some Professer in him because he is one. Characters can also interchange as they manifest themselves socially around other men. A dad is a Skipper to his own son, but that son’s father is a Gilligan to his own father.

If I am wrong about my interpretation of the masculinity crisis let me know. But on the chances that I am right I want to urge you–if you are an author like me please do your best to avoid taking one of your characters’ sides within the main conflict. Your mission is to try to look outside of yourself to see the perspectives of the characters who are not you so that they can compromise with each other. You and I will never be able to do this perfectly, but our efforts and intentions to explore beyond our own personalities, and genders are enough. For me, as a female author, this means that I need to figure out how to work with the Gilligans and the Skippers within, and around my male characters, and also how my female characters will interact, and negotiate with them.

The Journey Away from Self

Recently I have read a great blog post about C.S. Lewis’s struggles while writing female characters as a man (link here).  Aware of his own uncertainties about the female mind in a world unadulterated by today’s political landscape he has created female characters who I remember finding very relatable as a little girl. His efforts to work with feminine archetypes while also trying to diversify his character’s individual personalities were not in vain.

Naturally, it is hard for a male author to know how I see the world, and it’s also hard for me as a female author to know how a man sees the world. We should never regard this reality as a reason to tear each other down, but instead as a call to the adventure of trying to understand the other’s virtues, and to be creative with them.

Every day I feel blessed with the privilege to write short stories. I get to ask myself questions like “How can I take the archetype of the shy, child-like man, and develop him into a courageous hero in a believable way? What words can my female protagonist use to give him this courage that can move him from the inside out to act heroic?”  The world can never provide, or supress the questions that move an author to explore the unknown no matter what the political landscape is like.  Our freedom comes from our God-given free will.

Both of my protagonists have obstacles to overcome.  For my male character it’s fear, and for my female character it’s a communication disorder that comes with autism.  Courage is deeply important to a man, and communication is deeply important to a woman, so naturally both characters feel a need to grow beyond their challenges even if fear, and communication challenges will always exist in the background.  To the best of my ability I want to avoid shallow, self-assuring words like ‘you don’t need to change’, or unearned words of affirmation towards any of my characters because male or female, false affirmation can block them from the freedom that comes from organically opening up their minds to learn when to stand up in objection against others, and when to be softened, and molded by others–this is an on-going journey that I have been taking myself.

When I first started writing I had no idea that I was going to discover a new-found respect for the freedom that comes from working with masculine archetypes to create something that I have never seen before. Nothing is new under the sun, but what has always been here is right at my fingertips to be reincorporated into the world in a way that is hopefully fresh enough to make timeless ideas come alive again.

Sweet Unity

sweetunity

On the day of New Year’s Eve 2019 in the heat of the transformation mindset I have made the rash decision to avoid processed sugars all week, and every week except Sundays. There are multiple normal reasons that I have for doing that, but nothing that’s a matter of life or death. I just wanted to see if this change would make my normal human health problems such as energy spikes and crashes, skin problems, motion sickness, and other things improve so that I can become a healthier version of physically ‘normal’. I told my mom about this on the phone, and coincidentally she said that she had made the decision to avoid desserts until Sundays. “Maybe we can support each other,” she said. Avoiding desserts is a change far less extreme than avoiding the processed sugar that’s in commercial peanut butter and fed to yeast to make bread fluffy, but it was still a similar kind of change.

I thought that this would be fun. I have lost some of my taste for sugar from the time I was a little kid–now if you give me the choice between peanut butter cups and cheezies, I’d go for the cheezies. This will be easy, I thought.

I got into the habit of getting up early in the morning to make myself a hearty sugar-free breakfast of some kind. Over the past few weeks I have made myself plenty of three-egg cheese and spinach omelettes, and they’ve kept me going very well until lunchtime. I’ve been brewing my coffee less strong so that it would taste too sweet for me if I even attempted to put a small amount of sugar in it, while beforehand I would have brewed it so strongly that once I had added my sugar, it would have been as decadent as bittersweet chocolate. I loved, and still do love coffee like this, but it was a lot of caffeine in one little comfort drink. Milder coffee with just a splash of milk has also been tasting really good, but in a different way. My energy, mood, and my stomach feel better now than before I began drinking coffee without sugar. It also cleanses my palate in a nice way after eating an omelet.

I’ve been liking what this choice has been doing for me, but this is the problem— as an over-analyzer of everything including ingredient labels, I could easily allow this choice to make me so self-centered that I can isolate myself from others for the sake of vanity. My arguments for following this restricted diet to such an extreme might not be strong enough and can potentially discredit the challenges of people who have no choice but to avoid sugar.

Why do I think that this choice can be unjustly isolating? I have begun to question this choice on my first day back to my volunteer job at a school when one of the teachers baked a birthday cake for the teacher I work with who had her birthday during the Christmas holidays. This was when I began to think about what a birthday cake, or any other kind of centerpiece dessert that we cut and share symbolizes—it symbolizes coming together to celebrate unity in one good thing. If I had said ‘no’ to a piece of cake I would have been denying the intentions to share for superficial reasons. I accepted a piece of cake and felt no regrets. In fact, my conscious would have been bothering me if I had said ‘no’. This might sound strange to some people, but it actually took willpower for me to accept a wonderful piece of homemade buttery pound cake with whipped cream icing all because of my legalistic tendency towards excessive self-control. Personal freedom takes effort sometimes—can you imagine that?

After this experience I tweaked my New Year’s resolution to include centerpiece desserts, but not a moment too soon I couldn’t help but acknowledge that my friends and family had been continuing to bake homemade treats such as cookies, and offering them to me just like they had always done—same story.  Although physically cookies are not centerpiece desserts that symbolize one unifying sweet that we share In pieces, they are still made with the intentions to share, so I’ve accepted homemade cookies, and the occasional candy. So now I’ve tweaked my resolution again: I will eat sweets whenever they are offered to me in kindness, but I won’t go out of my way to find something with sugar for myself for convenience’s sake. It’s considered normal in today’s world to turn to a vending machine candy due to hunger over taste, and that might be one of the biggest problems we face regarding sugar. There’s no unity involved in getting yourself a package of Pop Tarts just because you’ve missed breakfast. I doubt that there was any love put into the making of convenience sweets either. From now on whenever I’m offered anything sweet I will ask myself: “Is accepting this treat going to allow me to connect, or maintain connection with others?” If the answer it ‘yes’ I will accept it.

Because of my obsessive personality I can easily become an extremist in many aspects of my own life. I either neglect to care about worldly things, or I obsess over them. It’s hard for me to find the in-between, and my diet is not an exception to this problem. This reason is why I’ve thought it best to create rigid rules for myself, and then over time tweak them whenever they are proving to deprive me of whatever is freeing and humbling—this is transformation.  First Timothy 4:4-5 says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the work of God and prayer (ESV).”

 

Gracefully Admitting to Mistakes

2+2=5In a Church service this past Sunday I have heard something that challenges what I’ve previously written in my last blog post about ‘The Unmoved Mover’. The pastor said that “God doesn’t tempt,” and immediately I remembered the line I wrote about God giving us “incorrect” thoughts and feeling to move us towards what is true. I still stand by everything else that I’ve said, but I urge you not to give into what I’ve said there. I’ve made the existence of elusions seem simpler then they really are, and I’ve ignored the fact that people get deceive by subjectivism, and that subjectivism comes from the devil. But on the other hand, the devil can never act outside of God’s control. This is a dynamic that I can hardly begin to wrap my mind around, so that’s why I’ve written this part too simply and lazily.

I am saying this to let you know that I am not scared of the mistake that I’ve made. In fact, I’m going to leave this mistake in my post, and discerning people who understand the complexities of human transformation will pick up on this and filter it out in their minds. This blog is being written by a millennial who still has three quarters of her life experience ahead of her, so don’t expect a high level of objective wisdom here. I’m just trying to figure these things out like you are. I can deceive you without knowing that I am, as can anyone else who is human.

Why does it take years, and decades to become comfortable making mistakes, and admitting that we’ve made them? Is it because of the way in which society is structured, or is it part of human nature? In a conversation I’ve had on this blog I have discussed the necessity of forgiveness. I believe that whenever we trust that we’re going to be forgiven any fear that we’ve previously had of confession melts away, and after making mistakes we can painlessly grow beyond them.  We need to build more environments that allow this kind of transformation to happen–it’s amazing how people can grow towards the truth in an environment where the desire to give, and receive forgiveness is evident.

The Unmoved Mover

aurora borealisHere is a question to think about: Do we exercise free will in our thoughts and feelings, or are we only free in our actions?

I’ve provided a link to a website about “The Unmoved Mover” below this paragraph. Although I believe that the author stating that “Time has always existed” is a little too much of a stretch, he explains Aristotle’s theory of the Unmoved Mover in a way that can prevent our brains from wandering off. This is good, because our minds can wander easily while trying to wrap them around all of this.

https://classicalwisdom.com/philosophy/unmoved-mover/

The article says, “We cannot say that fire or air move upwards by their own agency, that is to say that fire and air did not decide to travel upwards…” our thoughts, feelings, inspirations, and even our current beliefs don’t seem to move from our own agencies, but they do seem to move, and transform just like these elements. But in-turn, our actions can affect our thoughts and feelings. For example, if you ate the last piece of cranberry upside-down cake, and then learned that your friend was saving it for later because he or she hasn’t had any yet, you’d probably feel bad. You didn’t choose to feel bad, this feeling just came from outside of your own will.  You could have chosen, however, to ask your friend if he or she has had any cake yet.  If you did ask, and refrained from eating the cake, you would have been exercising free will just like when you chose to eat it.

So to answer my question from the beginning, it seems like we are free in our own actions to make decisions, but our thoughts are as much from our own free will as breathing, and our feelings are as self-controlled as our heartbeat. I believe that these things come from a living unmoved mover who gives us incorrect thoughts and feelings to move us towards what is correct throughout our lives. Logically we’re puzzled by why He would intentionally give us false thoughts and feelings and won’t just make them prophetically align with the truth all the time so that nothing ever goes wrong, but He doesn’t—that would be boring. What would a story be like without conflicts and character growth? You’ve guessed it; boring. Who likes coffee with too much sugar and not enough bitterness? I don’t.  In this life too much sugar can make us feel sick, and bitterness helps us to appreciate sweetness even more.

adult beverage breakfast celebration

I’m going to leave you with this post for now until the new year. I wanted to end 2018 off with these thoughts because my plan is to talk more about Christianity next year, and the ‘Unmoved Mover’ theory seems to work as a great bridge between philosophy, and theology. This year I have noticed how open-minded people can be. A few people have taken my writing into consideration while being justly critical at the same time. I believe that constructive criticism is a sign that people care because they want to help me to see different perspectives. Nobody was ever dismissive of me just because they disagreed. I have tested the waters of the online community and have determined that people are strong enough to handle what’s coming next. It’s not likely to go well with the kind of people who don’t question their own thoughts and feelings, but those who do will hopefully gain access to new intellectual terrain that’s yet to be explored.

I wish you all a merry Christmas, and happy 2019.  🙂

Finger Food for Thought

Here are a few summaries on the things that I have discussed on this blog so far. I am trying to capture what I’ve been saying in my philosophy posts into less words, and to also roughly illustrate a new direction that the topics might be heading into. I’ve been trying to think of something Christmas-related to write about, but I’m struggling to come up with something.  (I feel kind of bad about that because Christmas is my favourite time of year 😦 ).  However, I have written a fable that I am planning on publishing here soon.  It will be extremely different from the Macaroni and Cheese story that I wrote for Canada day.  My family says that it’s pretty creepy and dark.  (For the record, I usually don’t write scary stories.  It’s just that I find it hard to stay within one genre).  As the motto says under my title, here are some ideas that I have tried to ‘contain, and secure in a knot’.  I hope that I have succeeded:three christmas themed glass snow globes–Intentions matter more than words.

–Chaos doesn’t exist outside of ourselves, but it does exist as an illusion that we can escape by trying to communicate, and looking for the truth. The unknown is order, but what appears to be a communication disorder needs to be acknowledged in order to break out of it. (This is two blog posts put together as one idea—the fourth post, and the thirteenth.)

–If there is anything that terrifies me to no end, it’s the possibility of remaining stuck with my own opinions about other people without any help to figure out if I’m wrong about my beliefs about them, and to learn about what I have in common with them.

–If people criticize others more than themselves, it’s best not to implement their advice into your own life. These people don’t seem to have enough self-awareness to understand you at a human level. You will know that you are around them if they dig their heels into you whenever you are trying to implement healthy self-critical skills. You will know that you are around them if their words grind you in the gut, and cut you off from ever questioning them, or even conversing. They might try to transform your self-criticism into a false sense of self-love, but it’s more likely that they will try to transform your self-criticism into self-hate.  They might make you believe that your best intentions, or efforts are never good enough.  Do not let them interfere with the balance that allows you to connect with others.

–Earlier this month, I believed that pride and shame is a rocking scale that we need to get away from. I also believed that If we looked at this scale from a bird’s-eye view, we would see that pride and shame are both the same thing, and that they are both bad. However, it was brought to my attention that there is another form of pride that I have neglected to mention—the pride we earn. When I first wrote about this, I was originally thinking about self-assigned pride. Self-assigned pride is most likely a self-made illusion to conceal shame, and earned pride is the sense of fulfillment that comes after personal success or doing a good deed. It’s a reward that keeps us from giving up on ourselves. Whenever people reach this form of pride, they provide a standard for other people to strive for. What are the prose and cons to earned pride? I don’t know yet.  All I know is that writing makes me feel more stable than I was before, so I suspect that I’ve been gradually earning this kind of pride.  I am still learning about the cons, so hopefully in the future I will have the experience I need to go into more depth about these two forms of pride.

The World’s Communication Disorder

Communication Elephant From the time I was a kid I was told that I have a communication disorder. This means that I have trouble putting my thoughts into words, and comprehending what other people are saying. I knew about this even before I was diagnosed with autism. I used to believe that a communication disorder was a condition that I possessed, or even part of who I was, but seriously–how can I be or have a concept that isn’t tangible?

I am not talking to anyone right now. I am sitting in front of a computer typing out my thoughts, but I’m experiencing the occasional blocks in my communication that cause me to erase certain sets of words, and rewrite them so that they make a little more sense. In this case, I don’t have a communication disorder, I’m just experiencing it while I’m trying to figure out how to make my writing more digestible for other people.

If someone who understands my perspective helps me to make my writing clearer than it was before, I don’t have a communication disorder, but there are still the occasional obstacles that need to be crossed. We will eventually manage to cross these obstacles successfully. If I decided to turn my computer off right now, and stay in my room without anyone to talk to, a communication disorder is not even existing within this moment.

On the other hand, if someone genuinely doesn’t understand what I’m writing or saying, It’s not just me who’s crippled in the area of communication, but it’s also the person who I’m talking to. This is nobody’s fault, this is just the way that the world works. These are the consequences of two or more diversely wired brains trying to find unity with one another. The weight of a communication disorder can bog down any conversation—we all feel it. Whenever this weight is felt, saying that one person in the conversation is the source of miscommunication might be the wrong thing to do. I don’t believe that people can be the source of a communication disorder. A communication disorder is something that manifests itself within a conversation where unity hasn’t been reached yet—this is just part of the natural process towards social integration.

I believe that whenever we feel the weight of a communication disorder, we should all be allowed to empathise about it. We all know that it’s hard, so why not just admit this to each other? Is it just because it’s not socially acceptable to bring up this elephant in the room? This elephant isn’t a bad guy. It has the potential to reveal one small glimpse of unity amongst the diversity. It keeps us from judging words and actions, and judgement of other people’s words and actions seems to be caused by pride and shame. I have developed this belief after I realized that the world around me effects my level of humility. Another person’s pride can cause me to feel ashamed, and my own pride can cause other people to feel ashamed. This is the teeter-totter effect that’s been on my mind a lot, and it’s going to come up many times again in this blog. I believe that this scale is something that needs to be escaped.

This also ties into my belief that I should treat others the way I want to be treated. I usually invite other people to take my words with a grain of salt because I want to take other people’s words with a grain of salt. This doesn’t mean being dismissive of what I, or other people are saying, but this does mean acknowledging that there is an unknown intention behind our words. Show me where I am right or wrong, and I will show you where you are right or wrong, but please don’t jump to conclusions before you know the root to what I’m saying.

This belief can make things hard for me. What if I’m around someone who doesn’t want their words to be taken with a grain of salt? If I treat someone like this the way I want to be treated, I get hit with a boomerang of shame. I throw the boomerang of information at them, but then the meaning gets twisted around because instead of catching it, and trying to figure it out, they let it come back to me as something that shouldn’t have been said in the first place. This is how people leave me trapped in a state of claustrophobia within my own body and mind. It’s like telling me that I’m not allowed to act or speak because I’m not genetically equipped to understand how to act around them. Thankfully this rarely happens, but this happens often enough to cause some damage. I should stress that I don’t believe that this behavior is ableism in the same way that the world sees it today. Or in other words, if this is ableism, it’s the kind of intolerance that hurts the entire fabric of humanity. It’s the belief that if people are flawed, (which we all are in morals, abilities, or… you name it), they should not be forgiven. This attitude is hard on the vast majority of people, and this even includes the person who exercises this attitude against others. We are actually hurting ourselves whenever we see ourselves as being completely right when we’re not. Maybe people who continuously torture themselves with this perspective are afraid to acknowledge the communication disorder, and to find unity within it because this means finding something in common with the people whom they didn’t like the words and actions of.

So, what should we do? Whenever we struggle to understand another person, should we try to find empathy through this small window called the communication disorder? This is as simple as saying that you are having some trouble understanding me, and me saying that I am having some trouble understanding you. Acknowledging this challenge as a similarity that unifies us might help us to open up the door to better understanding.