Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Francesco Melzi’s Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
As Neurodiverse as We Get!
As Many Children Are,
If We Would But Notice!
Sons and daughters are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb and a reward.
Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
Words of Grace For Today
In Jesus’ day, children were a nuisance of too much trouble to be ignored. One had to actively work to keep them … away, out from under foot. They were less than human and they died in droves. Why care for them? Why bother with them? Why? Why? Why?
Today we have a different attitude towards children, at least in some parts of the world. In other places they are soldier fodder, as long as they are big enough to carry guns. In some places they are sexual fodder, no size minimum. In some places they are labour fodder. In some places the girls are necessary for future wives, married off even prepuberty, and then boys carry on the family privileges. In other places only girls are valued and boys are ridiculed into self-loathing and shame (well that’s getting to be the case here at home too.)
No matter how we value them, children are a challenge. As infants until (hopefully) they are teenagers, they require care in order to survive, though there is no shortage of children having to fend for themselves at much younger ages.
So how do we appropriate them?
Like so many humans that we put less worth on, our appropriation of them, our valuing them, influences how they develop and how they live.
When we do not give value to others we diminish their lives.
Elders, revered by their culture, live longer. Not only that they live more capable much longer as well, thinking more clearly, moving more ably, contributing more value to their culture longer.
People we classify as ‘mentally ill’ herded into institutions, fared much more poorly (generally) than when they receive appropriate care, supports, and self determination living ‘in the population’. So today the ‘mental institutions’ that flourished in the 50’s and on have all but disappeared.
The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) first came out in 1880 in the USA. While the history of recognizing and suppressing (killing usually) expressions of neurodiversities is long and cruel, the ‘modern’ era certainly does not improve much on the damage done to people identified as mentally ill, though we’d like to think so.
The truth is neurodiversity is the evolutionary mechanism in the human brain allowing us as a whole species to adapt to a far greater spectrum of circumstances than would be possible otherwise. The list of artists, inventors, designers, discoverers, explorers, and geniuses is occupied almost entirely by neurodiverse persons. Why? Because they are capable of ‘thinking outside the box’, which is exactly how their brains work from the get go!
This does not minimize that many neurodiverse people face huge challenges just ‘getting along.’ I should say, though I am no genius, that I am one of this group, and have paid heavily for thinking and being different throughout my lifetime.
The real cost, as I have experienced is the cruelty shown me in the last decade by so many (also the courts). It goes like this: people tell you you are X (some kind of different), and they ridicule and devalue and silence and shun and incarcerate and shame you for being different, then one’s ability to ‘fit in’ becomes life threatening.
Not only do we experience the world differently and often more accurately than ‘normal’ people, we also have to dig deep in history and in ourselves to find our own worth, in the face of so many people cruelly devaluing us in order to try to establish their worth to be more than it is. Being ‘normal’ is not that great!
And then many sociopaths having risen to exceptionally powerful positions and extracted their power from the ‘normal’ masses. One can look at Putin today pouring soldiers lives into over running Ukraine, or Trump amassing popular support while he continues the stripping of money and opportunity from the ‘normal’ masses, the middle class, to provide for the huge corporations, whose legally defined primary value has to be profits (ie, taking from others for themselves.)
It’s been like this, with variations in players and their ways and means, since the beginning of time. How can one, even as a ‘normal’ person, live well yet alone survive in such a world order?
God’s shows us that this is not, this most certainly NOT, anything like what God intends for us. This is the cruel sin that God would save us from inflicting on each other and on ourselves.
For each person life starts in infancy, and one develops through childhood. During that time huge parameters are made as to how one lives thereafter. Some are hard parameters and one never outlives them. Many are ‘soft’ parameters, which one butts up against throughout one’s life though one can overcome them, maybe.
As Jesus came to love and save all people, Jesus certainly does not dismiss the children, devaluing them. Instead, Jesus demonstrates that children (like all people we devalue and cast out) can be appreciated and given attention, and therein give abundant life!
Some of us neurodiverse people have special gifts of receiving children, treating them so as to communicate to them that they are of great value (which they are!)
It is a deep, dark mark of sin on our culture that as we rush to value women (and falsely blame men wholesale for all the problems of the world) we play it out as a zero sum game. We make men lose as if that will help women! Worse, we devalue and falsely accuse and exile men who are so gifted with children (as if all so gifted men were instead sexually deviant and a threat to children!) The price is paid by us all, first by the children, and then by our collective loss of people who know their own value and give to life and to all people.
Such a loss.
Jesus would have it otherwise: ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
The children are our future. How we teach them to value themselves and all creation and all creatures is our legacy. We set the parameters that our species will have to deal with in the future.
Ahh, people, treasure what is precious. Different is precious!