Continuums, Spectrums and Scales, not Absolutes or Binaries
You are used to looking at some people as disabled and others, maybe you, as ‘abled’.
You are used to looking at these people as black, and these people as white.
You are used to thinking that you are not good at sports, but are good at reading books.
You are used to thinking that he is a failure, and that she is a success.
You are used to thinking of people from Africa as poor, and people from Western countries as rich.
You are used to thinking of the world in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’, and that you are either good at things, or not.
But where is your evidence?
Are we not all disabled in some way?
If we have common ancestors, common DNA, each of us our own hopes and dreams, then why do we perceive race? Do we look at shades of skin like they are key differences, when really they are just different shades like the indistinguishable shades of blue in the sky?
And is there a single thing in this world that, were you to put time and energy toward it, you would not improve at? I used to be terrified of phone calls – then for a time I was a real estate agent.
As for the rich and poor – rich in what? Poor in what? Are you telling me that the rich stay rich, and the poor stay poor? Now and always?
The divisions are imagined. They are not real.
There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There is just ‘us’.
Don’t place walls where they don’t need to be.
We have a dilemma with labels and groups. One one hand, they can be negative. That is the case with stigma, with racism, with nationalism, with war and all forms of hatred. You cannot hate someone if there is no wall between you and them.
So why is the wall there? If you had been born on the other side of it, you’d think as the so-called other side thinks. So if your belonging has been determined by chance, how responsible are you for coming to be on that side?
On the other hand, labels can be positive and reassuring.
Finding out that the eating disorder or emotional experience you are having is in fact common, well known, and has been rigorously studied brings relief. “I’m not a freak, there are others like me”.
But then where do we draw the line? The American Psychiatry Association will tell me I’m not depressed if I don’t have five of ten symptoms for two weeks’ duration – so does that exclude me from the relief and benefits that might come with the label?
The truth is that most lines are arbitrary, and as such, controversial.
So what is the solution?
No absolutes, no barriers, no hard lines.
Instead use continuums, spectrums and scales alone.
What is the degree to which you are depressed, and the degree to which you are good at sports, and the degree to which you are interested in the writings of one William Shakespeare.
All features of people exist on one of these spectrums – you are a combination of them all. I have guitar-playing ability for example, but I assure you it is very low.
But it can be raised.
When I was young, I would have scored higher on depression scales than I do now.
To take this one layer deeper, I see all around me people who choose to lead restricted, linear lives, thinking that a truly compounding and dynamic journey is ‘not for them’. Because people like me don’t do things like that.
But really, these barriers are not physical. They are mental. They are imaginary.
Continuums, Spectrums and Scales.
Not absolutes or binaries.
The world is not black and white – it is every shade in between.