June 19th, 2002

abstract butterfly

faith, hope, love, minimal brain damage..and the greatest of these is....

I arrived today to find that gregwest98 had sent on a nice oversize of the wonderful picture of painted birdhouses on a pickup truck he had posted recently. I have to decide whether it is home or office...right now I'm just happy, because it IS. I also located the nervousness.org card I'm supposed to be replying to from a nice woman in Washington state, so I will be able to meet my exchange obligations with aplomb. I figured out how to actually use the feedback function this week on that site, so I am full of good wishes and positive vibrations.

On the drive home, one commentator noted how Our Glorious Conservative President danced on Cinco de Mayo but only drew up a one page memo for Juneteenth. I think he had a point, but we are so far from undoing the havoc that racism has caused in this country. The ghost of Jim Crow laws haunt my childhood memories. I started elementary school when "individual option", one of the last defenses against Brown v. Topeka, was still being tried by southern schools. In this version, a limited number of African-Americans were admitted to the white school on a token basis. This finally was knocked out by the courts. When full integration finally came, when I was 11 or so, the African-American school was a run-down, no-cafeteria, substandard facility. With hindsight, I'm ashamed for the folks in my town and dozens like it. Church attendance, of course, was near 100 percent. We sang "In Christ there is no East or West" with vigor.

My mother taught at Central High in Little Rock when Eisenhower had to send the 101st Airborne to displace Faubus' segregationalist use of the Arkansas National Guard. A mob of angry whites gathered outside the school to taunt the 9 students who bravely were willing to be the first to integrate Central High. The photos of that time are breathtaking--fascists walking among us, taunting high school kids.

My father was interviewed by Japanese TV. He was able to tell them a bright spot--that the med school he attended in Little Rock was fully integrated. It's a good thing that he wasn't asked about the law school in Fayetteville. It had "integrated" ten years before. This "integration", though, was another form of racism. The school administration made the first African American law student carry a little fence with him from class to class. He was to erect his little fence--get it, separate but equal? It's like a bad movie--but it happened.

Tonight on NPR they talked about a particularly mild form of autism that afflicts otherwise "functioning" kids, robbing them of social skills. I was disquieted slightly when all of the things cited that these kids liked to do out of over-exuberance sounded like things I might have liked to do when I was 17, had I had but world enough and time. I decided, though, that life is just too short to self-diagnose myself with every illness that might possibly explain social ineptness. I have a relative, trained in the ways of special education, who graduated during an "exuberant" time when virtually every condition was blamed on "minimal brain damage". It's a bit like one of my stock expressions--infant rubella made me what I am today.

I hate to risk being a psycholuddite, but I sometimes feel that our understanding of the mind and behavior is still locked in an age not that far advanced from the Victorians. I guess I must have a grain of "science guy" in me, because I do believe in meds.
I have seen meds work miracles for those people meds can help. But I think that all the therapists I've met that I really respect abandon all the intricacies of theory and focus on the extremely practical....how to get through this, how to change that, how to
cope with this inner thing from the past. I've seen therapy really help folks, but mostly when it is about getting through the day to day, not bold inner insights. I wouldn't want to discourage anyone seeking whatever help they need in whatever medical mode. It's so hard to generalize, because some of us had truly horrid pasts or have really debilitating conditions and need all the theories and ideas and help we can get. But my theory, uninformed as I am, is that many of us just need to get on with it, while those who really need all the help get it. I'm sure not against therapy or counselling, and I actually favor meds. Still, I have this sense that so many of us must just accept our flaws and try to figure out how to live with a little faith, a little hope, a little love, and our minimal brain damage.

I'm a bit wary of general rules, though. In the book of rules in Hell, such generalities govern everything. and you know, I love that tag about how in Hell there is no justice, but Due Process is punctiliously observed.
  • Current Music
    "Put a Straw Under Baby", by Brian Eno