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More on Self-Identification – Religion and Politics

In a previous article (, I spent time talking about the concept of “self-identification” and the problems with it. As I argued in that article, as a rule external identification is preferable to self-identification, though it is not nearly always even close to perfect.

Looking back, one thing I do not appear to have discussed is the concept of handicap or disability. This blog entry will “tie together” the two, though at some point, I probably ought to write an article particularly on disability (perhaps more than one).

In the previously cited article, I made a point of saying that, just because someone self-identifies as a particular thing, is not a sign that they are that as which they identify. Put simply, it neither makes you a particular thing or puts you in a particular state to self-identify as that thing or being in that state, nor does it make you not that thing. So self-identification is not particularly useful for much of any purpose. Adding to that idea, as a rule, unless others are willing to qualify or classify your being in some way, you may or may not be something, but at the very least others are unwilling to accept that fact.

Does that make those refusing so to do correct? Not by necessity. Should it probably prompt you to question your identification? Probably so.

All that being said though, what I wanted to discuss in this article, is the idea of self-identifying as handicapped or disabled as opposed to being identified as disabled or handicapped.

When my son Garrett was born, it didn’t in any particular wise, seem that he was much different from any other baby.

In the course of time, it became obvious that he was different, but even then it was far from clear what was causal to those differences.

Garrett would go through periods of extreme fussiness, he had issues with what we fed him to the degree that we spent a good deal of time finding something he could eat. We finally settled on a formula that seemed to work for him, but not without a lot of searching.

In the course of time, he seemed to “normalize” in many regards. He started eating food, and seemed amenable to a variety of different things. He cooed and “talked.” In short, he began to do many of the things a baby his age would have been expected to do.

As he got older though, things changed. Around eighteen months of age, he began to “revert” in terms of lingual gains. At some point along the way, he became dietarily extremely “picky.”

He went from “casting google-eyes at the ladies,” to treating every he didn’t know as “furniture.” That is to say, he would all but act as if they were not there.

To sum up, Garrett changed, and in some pretty obvious ways.

I had suspected for some time, that there was something going on that we had not initially accounted as being true, but it wasn’t until later on that I (and others) began to get clarity with regard to what that might be.

Sooner or later, I and others, came to the conclusion that Garrett was Autistic. Even so, we continued to deal with him, not so much as a “normal child,” as in ways we (and particularly I) saw were necessary in order to help him to achieve the best possible outcomes.

At my wife’s suggestion and prompting, we took him to see first representatives from the local school district, then someone who was able to clinically diagnose his Autism.

The first group started “preemptive therapy” of various types, in order to work to get him ready to deal with the rest of the world, and most particularly, with attending school.

The second group decided that Garrett was indeed moderately Autistic (basically in the middle of the Autism spectrum). This made it so we were actually aware what we were dealing with from a clinical perspective.

Something that I seem to find myself saying a lot of the time is, “You may be wondering how this relates to the ‘meat of’ this article.” Allow me to elaborate.

Though Garrett is not good enough communicating at this point to answer one way or another, I’m pretty sure if you asked him, “Garrett, are you Autistic?” He would either answer, “No.” Or “What’s that?” If he were sufficiently capable so to do.

This also applies to questions about him being handicapped or disabled. At no time, and in no way, does my son count himself handicapped or disabled. I much doubt he even thinks about the many ways in which he’s different from other children.

At times, he longs to “belong,” but he does that in the same way as any other kid looking for friends and acquaintances. At other times, and with many people, frankly, he just wants to be left alone to do what he wants to do.

He relates to me in much the same way. Sometimes he wants to be with daddy and sometimes he wants daddy let him roam about with as much independence as I am able to give him—probably more, in fact.

The point is, Garrett could not be said to “self-identify” as Autistic or handicapped or disabled. He doesn’t know these concepts, and I doubt much he would care about them if he did.

To be fair, my boy’s “manifestations of difference” are not at all obvious to most folks (even adults) who encounter him. People with moderately (and some with mildly) Autistic kids, recognize the condition—as I generally do with their children. Others though, typically have no idea. I have even had people who you would think should know (like people who deal with “special needs children”), who were blissfully ignorant until told.

I’m not going to say a kid or adult missing a leg or unable to hear or speak has no business “self-identifying” as having a handicap or disability. I am  going to say that I see a great many people who claim to be handicapped or disabled who often have little or nothing more than their own word to demonstrate that “fact.”

There’s an old idea I want to “float” again here, “You have no idea what those around you are going through.” That would seem to be saying simply be kind to those around you, but I would like to add a little more. There are people out there you would never guess are dealing with trials and difficulties, as they just move through them—difficult though they may be—as if nothing was occurring.

The point? Just because those around you don’t identify themselves as having some condition that makes life more difficult possibly than you can even imagine, doesn’t mean they don’t have such a condition. And I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the number of such folks was larger than would be imagined by and large.

Okay, about time to get on to other things. Here’s hoping your time is good, and thanks for reading.

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On Standards and Fairness – Religion and Politics

Recently it was made clear to me that standards without a creating or maintaining authority with commensurate responsibility are generally not meritorious.

The primary reason for this is that, standards lacking these “facets” can be changed or have bits of them ignored or bits added, more or less at the whim of the person claiming to apply them.

Without an “owner,” there is nobody to hold folks to account when they claim to uphold the standard, but fail to do so.

To be clear, the owner of a given standard, may be neither the creator, nor even a single individual. That being said in order for most standards to be beneficial, they must have a “standard bearer” who is responsible for the “care and feeding” of the standard in question. Even if the standard is technically maintained by “consensus,” it is generally true that somebody must actually decide that the standard has changed.

Further, it must be understood that often, it is physically impossible to make changes to a standard retroactive. As such, data that result from a standard before it is changed, must be understood to be incomparable to data collected and showing as resultant to the standard after that change.

So when you measure obesity, by way of example, differently today, than say, twenty or more years ago, saying that, “More people are obese today than were twenty years ago.” Is not a particularly meaningful statement (even if you try to make some sort of “adjustment” to one or the other definition).

If you have similarly granular before and after data, you can use either the old or the standard to make such a determination if it is applied to both sets of data. The problem is, many people make no such comparison. Rather they appear to compare the data gathered under the old standard, using that standard, to data collected under the new standard, without regard to variances and differences in the standards.

This says nothing of the differences in other standards that also may play a part in measurement according to the “main” standard. This is obviously a factor as well.

But at least a standard for something like obesity typically has some sort of “curator.” It’s possible that it technically has more than one. For example, medical doctors may have one, and dietitians another. Nevertheless, so long as you specify the “gatekeeper” for the standard you’re using, you should be able to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons so long as the standard has not changed over time (this, by the way, is entirely unlikely).

That being said, there are things being stated as if some standard were being applied when in fact, no single standard is actually being used.

My favorite example is that of what is “fair.”

As was recently pointed out, there are assumptions that people make, based on how they feel, as to what is and is not fair.

For example, when two people are offered basically the same opportunities, but end up with different outcomes, it is assumed by a good many people that the results are “unfair.” The reason for this appears to be little more than emotion. The folks in question assume that just because two people had the same opportunities, should automatically mean that they have the same results.

The problem is, what one does with the things one is given, generally matters even more than what opportunities one is given.

Don’t believe me? Imagine that two people have been given different opportunities. Looking at the one’s opportunities, it appears they have been given a great many, yet the person never seems to achieve or accomplish much of anything.

Looking at the other, it seems he or she was given very little opportunity, yet that one excels, he or she manages things that appear all but impossible to those looking on.

This has happened many times.

The question one might ask is, “How can it be that one with relatively few, and not so strong, opportunities manages to do things that a person offered a great many, often very robust ones cannot?”

There are likely multiple answers to this question, but if one consider “help from others” as part of the “opportunity equation,” the person with fewer opportunities, must have done or been something the other did not do or was not.

There is, of course, the old “fallback” of “luck.” The reality is though, even luck cannot make it so you keep what you gain for long.

The point here, is that what you do plays quite a large part in what you are and what you gain.

Is that “fair?” Well, I guess that depends on the origin and definition of your standard for fairness.

In my mind, this is entirely fair, in the minds of a great many, it is assuredly not.

The implication is that we carry substantially different definitions or standards of fairness.

The point of any converstation like this should be, in my view, to get people to think about what they believe and why they believe it.

This discussion is no different, and I can say that because I’m the one doing the talking.

My intent is to get you to consider your definition and resultant standard for what is fair.

Just because it seems like, or more correctly, you feel like something is fair or unfair, doesn’t mean it really is or is not so.

The end of this is that, if you create your own definition of anything (in this case, fairness) and ignore any standard and the reasons for its existence, you’re likely to be horribly disappointed. Further, you’re likely to create a standard that will not allow you to be successful. This is because your standard will likely have underlying expectations that will rarely or even never be met. I call these the “if only” expectations.

Having said all this, allow me to encourage you to a course of action. Don’t just “feel like” something is “fair or unfair.” Seek a standard. Try to decide on a definition of fair or unfair that is consistent with your core beliefs, rather than one that is based on feelings.

Okay, out of time and “space.” As such, allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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More on Forms of Government – Religion and Politics

Much has been said by a great many people about the various possible forms of government. I have read or otherwise been “subjected to” a variety of presentations on the matter at hand.

It’s also true that I maintain active “conversations with” others where possible on this consideration.

All of this “put together,” has caused me to come to somewhat of a revelation where government is concerned. That being that, for all intents and purposes, there are only two actual forms of government where societies exist and one of those is transitional.

I can argue for a third under some very specific circumstances, but that third is truly a “subcomponent of” one of the other two.

What are these forms of government? They are oligarchy and anarchy—anarchy being transitional.

The third for which I can argue, is something along the lines of monarchy (you can call it tribalism if you choose). The problem with the “third form” is that, except in very small groups, it “doesn’t last for long. Put another way, monarchy or tribalism is also typically transitional in nature. The reason? For the most part, monarchy turns into a system of leadership that so greatly resembles oligarchy, that it may as well be considered such by the time things are all said and done.

If one consider that all oligarchical governments “take control of” the “means of production,” to some greater or lesser degree, it becomes obvious that all governments, excluding anarchy (because there is only one in anarchy, so the “populace” and the “government” control the “means of production.”), are socialist in nature, the only question being one of degree.

I have heard folks argue that certain goods and services needs must be “managed by” government, and that as such, government must control the means of production for those goods or services. I maintain that, where it may be “more efficient” (not highly likely) or in some sense “more fair” for them to do so, it is not a necessity that they do so. As such, even a very limited set of “goods and services” controlled by government, amounts to socialism in my view.

As to Communism, in its true, final and “pure” form, it amounts to anarchy. As such, it “doesn’t deserve to” be named among governmental forms.

Republicanism is pretty much always enacted in an oligarchical structure and, as such, is not a form of government in and of itself. Rather, it like some others, specifies how the oligarchy is to be structured.

At this point, you may be thinking that I’m saying something I am assuredly not. You may think I am saying, “All governments are essentially equal.” This is definitely not the case.

There are at least three factors that are a basis for differentiation, comparison and contrast, that should be considered.

The first of these is, “How did the government come into authority?

Believe it or not, this question is not as important as it initially seems. That’s not to say it’s unimportant, just that in the end, this question ceases to be of as much significance as the others here listed.

When a government comes to power though, if it comes to power “by force” as opposed to some sort of consensus, that which brings it into place may well cause a great deal of “damage” to the people it is supposed to represent.

As well, this matters because, when a government comes to power “by force,” there is a tendency for people enact and enforce “heavy handed” policies and laws on the people over which it becomes “leadership.”

In the end though, whether a regime does badly or well by its people is what largely (though obviously not entirely) matters.

Even if a group comes to power by “taking over forcibly,” it may end up being the best thing that has happened to the entity it comes to control—possibly even with hopes for a better future.

Technically, the original government of the United States of America, by way of example, came to power, “by force.” Granted, it was largely with the consent of the country at large.

The next question one probably ought to ask is, “How does the government stay in power (or decide to leave it)?”

I make the point that the U.S. had leadership that come into their positions “through force.” That being said, the earliest acts of those leaders, was to design a system wherein it can be argued they “worked themselves out of a job.”

General George Washington was rumored to have been offered the position of “king” in the U.S. He was rumored as well though, to have politely declined it.

Other leaders have come into power, and have clung to that power for dear life. Most of the time, this has proven to be a terribly bad thing.

One of the things done by early “founders” of the United States, was to argue for the idea that government should occur “by the consent of the governed,” not “by the might of the government,” and its ability to stay in power.

As such, the U.S. and other countries routinely hold “free and fair” elections, in which leaders may or may not change. Some others make a pretense of this, but in actuality, offer no such thing. The system in the U.S. is far from perfect, but it does generally accomplish the desired ends.

The last question I will ask in this post is, “To what degree does government control the liberty of the population at large?”

This is one of the two most important questions it appears to me one might ask. It actually has three “facets,” all of which must be given stringent attention. Something I have not the ability to “do justice in” around a thousand words (my self-imposed limit).

The first is, “How much control is exerted?”

It turns out that, as a rule, the less control exerted, the better! There are limitations to this, but by and large it is the case. The fewer rules and regulations can be employed, the better. I won’t get into the reasons for that here (probably something worthy of another article).

The second is, “At what level is control exerted?” One of the “lessons learned” that U.S. Founders employed, is that the lower the level, the better. Again, I haven’t a great deal of “space” to discuss why that is here, so I’ll leave this where it is.

Finally we must ask, “What kind of control is exerted?” Again, I haven’t space for details, but the “simple answer” is, “Only absolutely necessary control should be enacted and enforced.”

Well, this subject is sufficiently deep that I may have to pen subsequent articles to touch on more subjects as time goes on. For now though, I’ll “call this good” and get back to other things.

Here’s hoping your time is good, and again, thanks for taking the time to read this.

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A Sign of the Times? – Religion and Politics

How many times did I hear it as a young man? Surprisingly, not many! “When I was a boy…” This expression was not often uttered by adults in my childhood—or at least not in my hearing.

In fact, most of the adults about and around me, tended to keep to themselves that precious wisdom that might’ve helped me so much as I traversed the various ages to my current time in life.

Nevertheless, their actions spoke every bit as loud as would their words have done, had they chosen to utter them.

By way of example, where I can by no means tell you that my parents were (or that my mother is, as she is still alive), perfect people, even so, I can tell you that they demonstrated by their actions, certain realities that ought not be ignored.

I choose here to “sum up” just one such set of beliefs and the actions that with them were seen.

It has become a far too common thing in the modern day, to hear of situations in which a young person—particularly among the females of the species, but not entirely so—was dealt with physical, mentally, or emotionally, in ways unbecoming and untoward.

I write this then, as a “piece of advice” primarily to young men, and primarily considering their interaction with those that have been termed as being the “fairer sex.” In case that term is unfamiliar to you, I mean here, females.

Mind you, the simple advice I’m about to impart, could be to anyone, regardless their sex and toward anyone, equally so. The reality is though, that there seems to be a particular problem with males and their inappropriate treatment of females.

To those reading, regardless male or female, regardless whether dealing with males or females, I would say the following, “Do that which is morally and legally correct. Past doing that, then do that which is desirable to the person to whom you are doing what you’re doing.”

Some folks looking at this set of statements, may come to the conclusion that it is backwards. Allow me to explain why I don’t agree that is the case.

A person doing that which is, in their view morally correct, ought to be constrained in the most “restrictive” fashion. He or she, it is hoped, will maintain personal standards and integrity that are based on something more than him or her self. I’m not going to say this is universally true, but my hope is that it is generally so. The result is, neither the law, nor the desires of others, should be more rigorously considered, than when dealing with what’s morally correct.

In fact, if one has a sufficiently high “moral bar,” consideration of the law should be unnecessary, and consideration of the desire of others should be all but a foregone conclusion.

So the first “checkbox” on your “checklist,” when it comes to your actions towards others should be, “Is this morally appropriate and acceptable?”

Sadly, because there are those who are “broken” morally, I cannot stop here—even though one might be tempted to do exactly that.

Since there are people who, by all appearances, have zero “moral qualms” with the abuse and mistreatment of others, it is necessary to add another “checkbox” to our list. The question next to this box would be, “Is what I have in mind to do legal?”

As I have already stated, assuming your morals to be more “restrictive than” the law, for many, this is an unnecessary question.

For some folks though, this question seems to be important and needed.

Put simply, if the thing you’re thinking of doing is illegal, don’t do it.

Don’t misunderstand, there are exceptions to every “rule.” If following the law may cause the demise of an innocent (or even in many instances, a guilty) individual, and breaking it may save that individual’s life, I think as a rule, I would choose to break the law and “save” them.

Obviously, this is an extreme example. There are others that are less “on the edge” but just as reasonable. Keep in mind though, if you choose to break the law—even if the cause is good—you should be willing to “suffer the potential consequences” of so doing. The hope is, this will not be how things will work out, that is, that you will not be dealt with harshly under the law, but reality is not always that for which one hopes.

There is an old, underlying “rule” that is the basis for much of what is “written in” various legal structures, be they actually written or not. The “base tenet” for much of law is, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

Before you take the somewhat ridiculous view that says, “What if others don’t want to be treated as I do?” Allow me to preemptively respond.

Firstly, what others want from me isn’t always within my “rights.” You want me to shoot holes in you? Probably not going to happen! If for no other reason, I won’t do so because I cannot legally or morally do that.

Secondly, as a rule, the fact that I want two packets of sugar (or rough equivalent) in my morning coffee, does not mean I put two packets of sugar in the coffee of others. In fact, maybe they don’t want coffee to begin with. Put another way, much of what happens in life is a matter of asking folks what they want, and if possible, obliging them. This is not unlike what the average person would expect or accept happily.

So all of this leads to the idea that one ought to find out what is or is not appropriate to others, and where it is moral, legal and feasible, act accordingly. That doesn’t mean everyone would or should get everything he or she desires.

On the other hand, without compelling reason to fail to act in ways that are moral, legal, and in accordance with the will of those toward whom the action can or will occur, one probably ought not do so.

The reality here, is that far more often than not, acting as stated should be entirely reasonable and correct.

Okay, here we are at the “end of time and space” for the present. Here’s hoping your time is good, and as usual, thanks for reading.