About Being American

I just love this Facebook entry on my friend’s page. It says it all on what being an American should be about. You can do your thing but don’t try to prevent me from doing mine.

Diversity……

 

2017-01-26_17-31-32.png

Pennsylvania State Museum

In 2014 we went to the State Museum of Pennsylvania on our way back from NYC. It was one of the best of all the state museums we have been in.  It celebrates all aspects of its history.  Here is a small gallery of the art from that visit.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

Part 10 – My Venture Into Asperger’s – Closing Thoughts For This Series..

Neuro Banner  This is Part 10 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s. This post is primarily about my closing thoughts of what I have learned about myself and the Asperger’s Syndrome in general.

When I discovered that I might be an Aspie I searched the web for info about this condition and found that I share many characteristics with the neurodiverse population.  Before I get into personal details about this topic lets look at the idea of neurodiversity from Wikipedia:

2016-08-12_09-21-09.pngNeurodiversity is an approach to learning and disability that suggests that diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome. This portmanteau of neurological and diversity originated in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views of neurological diversity as inherently pathological, instead asserting that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category 

I take the phrase to mean that neurological conditions are for the most part just the normal spread of what makes us human. Of course I realize that the severe cases are anything but normal. In past ages those with Aspergers were often called being eccentric or maybe “marching to the beat of a different drummer”. Yes, I had difficulties in my early years that I could not understand but for the most part I  developed ways to compensate for many of my shortcomings and just avoided others whenever possible. Don’t we all actually do that to one extent or another?

Do my Asperger’s characteristics need fixing? That is the basic question here and my answer is NO.  My unique characteristics which might be related to Aspergers are what makes me who I am. It makes me different from others. Except maybe for my early years I have never felt the desire to be “normal” even if there is such a thing..

In my studies I came across lists of people who are likely Aspies. Since this syndrome was not even defined until the late 1990s most adults today have never have been diagnosed as Aspies. Even since then the thrust of the work in Aspergers has been in the field of childhood amelioration, adults are for the most part outside the current study of this condition. But given the characteristics that are contained in the study it can be deduced who might be catalogued with Asperger:

  • Bill Gates
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Al Gore
  • Bob Dylan
  • Mark Twain
  • Charles Schulz
  • ….. the list goes on and on

I am proud to maybe be included in this list even if it is of my own account.  I just don’t think that characteristics that fall outside of what might currently be considered normal is something that needs fixing. Instead it, like racial diversity, is what makes us a valuable mix of people and views of the world. It is what makes each of us unique.

So I will keep in mind my apparent neurodiversity and continue talking about it here at a background level on RJsCorner but I won’t fixate on it as somehow being a central part of my life.  It, like my deafness, is simply part of who I am.  I do this because I don’t particularly like labels, they are more restraining than facilitating to me.

 

 

Playing a Part…

Vincennes Rendezvous-2There is nothing childish about make believe, it should stay with us our entire lives.  It makes us more aware of the diversity around us and in our history.  I found these two at the Vincennes Rendezvous walking the grounds.  I’m sure they both  had this event on their calendar with a big star next to it.  Playing the part of some of their heroes….

Its All About Communications….

QE BannerJEFFREY BROWN: But couldn’t you make the argument that it would be better if we all spoke the same language, that we all understood each other? There would be — well, there would be more understanding in the world.

BOB HOLMAN: Well, I love that argument, and it makes so much sense, until you understand what understanding is.

Icon_apps_22 [Converted] [Converted]You know, language is much more than communication. When we talk about it on the surface, that’s what it is. But language is the way we think. And it’s the way it’s been handed down through generations. If you begin to think in another language, that’s fine.

But if you have to lose the way that your family has been speaking, that’s not so fine. That’s losing who you are. And when we lose who we are, that’s when we become this homogenized consumer of life, rather than a citizen who comes from a place and knows who you are.

SOURCE:  What does the world lose when a language dies?.

The above quotes came from a transcript of a recent PBS Newshour segment about languages that are being lost in recent years. I will tell you up front so there is no confusion that I simply don’t buy much of the reasons to lament this happening. To me less languages in the world is instead something to celebrate.

Being deaf and living fully in the hearing world I know that communications is vital to how we live our daily lives. Daily conversations, yes even chit-chat is important. When communications is broken for whatever reason conflict often arises, sometimes deadly conflict. I have often said that the times I feel the most lonely is when I am surrounded by people who I am unable to communicate with. Sitting with a group of people and not being able to join in on whatever the topic of conversation happens to be about is totally isolating to me.

Even communications between those of us who are deaf are often nearly impossible because of different languages. The 20% or so of the deaf are those who were born deaf and part of the Deaf culture. They use a sign language called ASL. For the other 80% of us who went deaf after learning how to speak we use Signed English if we use signing at all, and many don’t. While the two share some common signs they are very different in context and application.  I have great difficulty knowing what a person using ASL is saying.

If only we all could talk directly with each other without the social, political, or physical barriers of different languages much of the world’s current problems would cease to exist. Because I am not privy to many conversations around me I often come to very  wrong conclusions about what is being discussed.  Because, for the most part Christians and Muslims speak different languages communication at the grass-roots level are simply not possible.  Communications is everything in today’s world. Speaking  and writing different languages kills communications.  Languages are not to be confused with thoughts. They are not the same thing. Thoughts, philosophies, cultures and such promote different ways of thinking. We should never lose our ability to think differently than the crowd.

About Islam and terrorism…

I have been meaning to study more about the Muslim world. I know it rivals Christianity as the largest religion in the world. Here are some supposed facts I recently found about it from a recent on-line article. Click the source below to see the complete article.

2015-01-23_11-29-371. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.

2. European Muslims are more moderate on sharia law.

Eighty-four percent of Muslims in South Asia, 77 percent of percent of Muslims in Southeast Asia, and 74 percent of Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa believe that sharia law should be official law in their respective countries. Only 18 percent of Muslims in Europe believe that sharia law should be enshrined in addition to (or in lieu of) the existing law.

3. Some Muslims are immersed in an environment that permits and nourishes the core beliefs they cite as reasons for acting as they have.

For example: 2.3 percent of Muslims in Europe believe that people who leave the Muslim faith should be executed. By contrast, 63 percent of Muslims in South Asia share that belief, as do 44 percent of Muslims in the Middle East, and 20 percent of Muslims in Southeast Asia.

4. Just north of ten percent of Muslims worldwide support and sanction religously motivated violence against civilians in at least some contexts.

That’s about 195 million, according to the most accurate polling of Muslim beliefs.

7. There are seeming contradictions in how much Muslims support women’s rights.

In Europe, 44 percent of Muslims think that women should at all times submit to their husbands, but 88 percent believe that women ought to choose for themselves whether they should wear a veil in public. Outside of Europe, strong majorities of Muslims believe that women must obey their husbands and wear their veils outside their home. 

8. There are big geographic differences in how people interpret the truth of the Islamic faith.

In 32 of the 39 countries surveyed, half or more Muslims say there is only one correct way to understand the teachings of Islam. In the United States, nearly six in ten Muslims think there are many ways to interpret Islam.

SOURCE:  8 facts you need to know about Islam and terrorism.

Some of these statistics surprised me. I have always thought that the radicals who seem so dominant in the news were completely out of step with the average follower of that religion. But this article seems to say not as much out of tune as I thought.  Over three-fourths of the Asian and Middle East muslims think that Sharia law should be the only law of their countries. 195 million support religiously sanctioned violence and about half say that if you leave Islam you should be executed!!  The vast majority of practicing muslims don’t support any form women’s rights or even human rights in general.

These numbers say that muslims are more aligned with some ISIS  ideology than I originally believed.  I certainly don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here and it does seem that at least muslims in western countries, which are a distinct minority of muslims,  are less rigid than in the rest of muslim the world. One of the most basic things that confuses me about Islam is that they seem to put much more emphasis on their prophet Mohammad than they do God himself.  Why is that? Is it ok to have a picture of God but not Mohammad? I guess I need to study this religion more…. but what I have found so far kind of startles me….

The Best Thing About ‘American’ Christianity

Diversity For decades people have been prophesying about American Christianity’s demise. Church attendance is dropping, our culture is becoming increasingly immoral and the president is probably the Antichrist. Various pundits, experts and research groups have seemingly made a living predicting American Christianity’s downfall, and yet, while Christianity has become extinct in numerous parts of the world, it continues to live on—and sometimes thrive—within the United States….

There are faith communities for those who are conservative or liberal, egalitarian or complementarian, Calvinist or Armenian, traditional or modern, young or old, Norwegian or Cuban—you get the point. We often view are differences as a bad thing, as a sign of disunity and mistrust, but we serve as a sort of system of checks and balances. American Christianity is a beautiful patchwork of unique characteristics, all united in Christ, challenging each other, holding each other accountable and complementing our various strengths and weaknesses.

SOURCE: The Six Best Things About ‘American’ Christianity | Stephen Mattson.

I am a very strong believer that what makes the U.S. so unique is our diversity. Most of us celebrate our differences without attacking others who think differently than we do. I firmly believe that our ability to do just that is what make for our longevity as a democratic country. I am in awe of our founding fathers being able to create the framework to make that happen.

I celebrate diversity in most things but I have seemed to lack that facility when it comes to my spirituality. I have not been able to understand that it is also a strength when it comes to why we continue to be for the most part a nation aligned with Christian values while so many other countries are quickly falling away.

But I came to this game to have something to live/play, not something to offer/justify; to find the Teacher within, not teach others that they’re ignorant of the importance of an ideal; to belong with others united in comraderie, not divided by heritage or heredity. 

SOURCE: http://www.quakerquaker.org/profiles/blogs/the-quaker-game-of-life

Like my Quaker friend in the quote above come to this game play and not to justify my existence. I hope some of my words here are taken as teacher and not to just push my ideals on you.

Diversity Is More Than Race….

Diversity

To some the word diversity is a threatening one but I hope most of us realize that as a nation and even a world diversity is to be celebrated. It means that we are different from each other. It means that we have different approaches and perspectives to life. It means that it is not a boring vanilla world but a multi-colored rainbow. 😉

To many, if not most people, diversity means different races of people. But another big part of diversity, at least in my mind, is our physical condition. I like to think that as a deaf person I  add to the diversity of our world.  There are only a couple of million of us in the U.S. We add knowledge that others without our condition can never fully understand. Another part of diversity certainly includes our social standings. Diversity is more than about the color of our skin.

Diversity is about each of us being interested in different things.  Some enjoy music and even among that group some like opera, some like rap, some like rock-and-roll and maybe there are even a few more like me who like folk music.  Some of us are more creative than others even to the point of being considered eclectic if you will. Diversity is just being different from each other. It is something to be enjoyed. It is something to be celebrated.  We should never fear someone simply because they are different from us.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

Falling Behind ….. Again

Source: Survey: U.S. global competitiveness falls again – USATODAY.com.

The United States’ ability to compete on the global stage has fallen for the fourth year running as confidence in the country’s politicians continues to decline. The finding is from an annual survey from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Of the top 10 nations, the Netherlands and Germany have moved ahead of the U.S. The U.S.’ ranking dropped two places to seventh this year, the WEF says.

It is sad to see that the U.S. is falling behind in yet another metric. Our manufacturing base is quickly dwindling. Almost everything we buy now comes from outside our shores.  Our healthcare cost us more than any other country and still we die younger than many. Our military eats us so
much more of our resources than any country on earth. We are building up massive debts to maintain our “policemen of the world” status.  Our general happiness level continues to decline year after year. Are we on the backside sliding down on being a global leader? Will we be the 21st century version of Great Britain who lost superpower status so quickly a century before? I don’t know the answer to those questions but I do know we need to address the underlying problems.

It is interesting to discover from the source article that Germany and the Scandinavians have moved ahead of the U.S. in global competitiveness. Of course as I mentioned before both of these countries that have a strong middle-class due to stiff government regulations on their industries. They are also some of the highest taxed since they have strong social programs in place. Scandinavians are known to be the happiest and the healthiest countries on earth.  Perhaps part of that is because of marijuana being legal?  We might find out if that is true soon enough 😉

I try to find a silver lining in all my dark clouds in life so here goes. We are still the world’s largest economy and our status as a global innovation powerhouse is firmly in place. We are still the most diversified population on earth and for the most part we celebrate that diversity. That is probably one of our strongest points as a country. We need to be constantly building from that.

But there is a significant portion of us who just don’t go along with that celebration idea. Unfortunately many in that group are among the current power and money holders in our land.  As Ayn Rand taught them they want to separate themselves into “makers” and call everyone else the “takers”. They want to blame all our problems on the “takers” when in reality much if not most of it resides with that very small and elite group. As evidenced by our current congressional fights they want to divide us into small fractured groups battling against each other so that they can maintain their hold of power. We have to do whatever it takes to wrestle our country away from the nay sayers and give it back to ordinary people. That is where the true power should reside.

Power to the People…..

source:  Nonwhite voters and changing values make 2012 election pivotal – Los Angeles Times.

The 2012 election marked the point at which a new American electoral coalition solidified its hold on politics, one built on the country’s growing nonwhite population and on cultural changes that have given younger voters of all races a far different outlook on political issues from that of their elders.

It is still not clear just who made up the majority that swept President Obama into a second term and seemingly muted the Tea Party’s power in today’s politics. But it is obvious that the $1 billion spent by the 1% had little effect on who won elections. It is obvious that the common people, many of color, gained power from this election cycle.

The old rural white, mostly southern, men are running scared. They now make up the majority of a shrinking GOP so it is panic situation for them. They are signing petitions to secede their States from the Union.  They are running about as scared as the McCarthy Republicans after they fell from grace in the 1950s.  If they can’t accept that our nation actually celebrates diversity then good riddance to them. Let them hunker down in their bunkers.

The vast majority of the current national office holders in the GOP are also old white men. It is exciting to see so many women even if they are all of the other party going to the Senate next year. I hope they bring a new perspective to that end of Capital Hill. Women are now the majority in this country and in my mind the sooner they also become the majority in congress the better. Many of the grumpy old white men who now occupy those offices need to retire.

One group of voters that have dramatically increased in the last two elections are the young people. That is the most exciting news to me. Those under twenty-nine make up the largest increase in those who voted in the last two presidential elections and that is a good thing. Now if they also can just take over more of the seats in our congress maybe gridlock can become a thing of the past. It seems young people just don’t have the political baggage that us older folks have.

Of course people of color also came out in groves in this and the past election. I celebrate that also.  Many of them steadfastly stood in hours long lines in Florida and Ohio to vote.

The Grand Old Party (GOP) is indeed living up to its middle initial and becoming old.  While I myself am an old man I celebrate all these new voters. Diversity is what makes our country different from most others in the world. We should all be celebrating that fact. When the GOP sets out to stifle, instead of encourage, the vote in order to win elections they are putting a stamp of doom on their party and for the most part they don’t even seem to realize that fact.  I hope they wake up soon.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

Its About Time — Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S.

source: Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S. – NYTimes.com.

After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States.

I bet the racist blogs this morning are white-hot, pun intended, talking about this article! But for myself I say it is about time. I think that our strongest point as a nation is our diversity. We generally don’t have one segment of society having total say on the rest of us. Now I am not inferring that the tyranny of the majority doesn’t, or hasn’t, reared its ugly head in the U.S. but generally those periods are eventually overthrown by the vote.

Just look at other countries to see the fierce partisan divide between Sunni and Shiite, between Muslims and Jews, between this or that.  We in the U.S. are just too diverse now for that to happen. There is one caveat to that however and that is the growing disparity between the 1% who currently control the vast majority of the wealth and the other 99% of us.  I am confident that some day this grossly imbalanced fact will the ameliorated hopefully by the vote and not by violence.

We as a country celebrate our diversity as we rightly should. Let us pray that the partisan divide that is so visible in other countries never happens here again. Let us remember that we are now all minorities in our great country.