vendredi, septembre 01, 2006

What we think we know

Often, when I am talking to someone about Sians' school, they will ask me why we're sending her to a Catholic school. She's got ADHD, I will tell them, and her dad and I felt that it she needed the extra structure (we like the idea of uniforms, too). Sian's got one diagnosis. Colin has one, his case, the name is so much broader and probably less accurate than his symptoms that when I mention it folks who know Mr. C. start disputing it with me. My friend Heidi, for example. Heidi thinks that eventually we will all have labels. People won't know us by our great cherry pie, or our willingness to lend a hand when a neighbor is in trouble. Instead they will call us by our particular disorder or personality type. We'll walk by a co-worker, and,l instead of asking how things are going in marketing, ask casually: "Hey, Julie, how are you doing with that oppositional behavior this week? Or a spouse planning a party will query their mate: "I hear you asked Mike over. Do you think his defiant passive aggressive personality will blend well with Tom's nonpathological introversion neurosis? Maybe we should put Marla between them...she is a gregarious overachiever who can help them both feel good about themselves!" Anyhow, you see where I am going. It is way too easy to paste labels on people and think that we have them categorized. Shoving those who make us uncofmortable into our boxes also assures that we may not ever really get to know them...and let them surprise us with how different they really are from the cut-out we have created. Americans often seem to think that if they look hard enough, they will find black and white answers to the small pesky questions and the large mysterious ones that dog us every day. Sometimes, we just find more questions await us. When that occurs, it is usually better to wait, and, in the words of the oft-quoted writer Rilke, live the questions, rather than create our own, inevitably cramped and possibly very innacurate answers.

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