There are many ways that we descend into becoming affiliated with “them”. Some of us are born different and never break free of that designation. We are chastised and victimized until our difference becomes the pathology “they” seek to keep us contained. Others are “fortunate” enough to buy into the mantra indoctrinated into their existence… that in order to thrive the necessity becomes to identify and ostracize those who are “different”; the independent thinkers, those who see and act in the world in ways that do not align with the accepted mantra, those who are diagnosed with physical, cognitive and mental afflictions.
The fact is that at some point, whether we like it or not, we all descend into the designation of “them”. We all age. We all face sickness. We all die. Avoiding “them” does not change the reality of US! What is lost by denying the reality of us is the unique capacity that exists ONLY in the acceptance and reverence of difference.
The suffering of human existence does not take place because of those with the accepted designation of “unworthiness”. It exists from fear of us and our reality. Avoidance, apathy and indifference built into our own socialization cuts our ties from each other. Because we are trained to look for difference in others to protect ourselves, we lose our humanity. Because we silence the small voices within ourselves to comply with those expectations to have what we need, we lose our unique gifts and capacity. As the masses are indoctrinated into this mindset to be worthy of receiving the most basic of needs the differences inherent within each and everyone of us is effectively silenced by fear. We doom ourselves into lives of subjugation. We empty ourselves of our authenticity and assume our roles in the replication of these expectations. For that we are paid. We accumulate “wealth”, money which in and of itself has little meaning except what we assign to it.
In essence we have trapped ourselves and created the emptiness that knawels at us as we sit in silence. We ourselves are own worst enemy. Our broken ties leave us trusting no one. Our preoccupation with our own need to be valued creates competition so that our special qualities assure us of the basic needs so easily denied. Competition allows us to judge worthiness of others always in relation to ourselves. We are severed from the entirety of our divine existence by the manufactured design of socialization. Its methodology serves only those who aspire to replicate its prescribed policy and procedure. To take a stance against its doctrine places one at risk from and enhances maintenance of the status quo. It is a trap that most of us are too afraid to even acknowledge.
The answer? I see you! I may not agree with you but I care enough to look deeper than your reactions to me. I understand that your reactions are but efforts to protect you from your fear of unworthiness and accompanying punishment through scarcity. I understand fear because I share your humanity and have faced the same socialization. I spent much time trapped in the judgment of others. I choose something different now and I encourage you, for your own sake, to do the same.
While the legal aspects are important in this case, the social expectations are being missed. There is often a HUGE disconnect between the written law and how it applies to life in the real world. Until there is a close in that glaring gap, there CAN BE NO JUSTICE! We live in a violent and intolerant culture based on seeing and defining inadequacy based on difference. We are caught in a trap of having to PROVE our worth and right to be INCLUDED by living up to social expectations of groups in which we crave to be affiliated. Consider the danger of the long hours expected of medical interns. We know the mistakes that can happen when a person is deprived of sleep, yet we subject our trainees to unrealistic rituals to prove their worth and right to belong. I guess I dont see the difference between the hazing done to this young man and the many examples of similar expectations sanctioned and performed by other ACCEPTED professional groups in our society. This incident is social commentary of a culture self destructing by victimizing its own people.
Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC
When we as a culture are preoccupied in seeing what DOESNT work in people, we miss the great depth that comes from considering perspectives born out of different life experiences. Tolerance grows to become a scarce resource and normality takes on more stringent guidelines as our perspective narrows and ostracizes all that are deemed unworthy of inclusion.Taken to its furthest extreme we can even rationalize genocide!
My name is Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey. I am a licensed psychotherapist who is nationally credentialed for both addiction and mental health work. I have spent a great deal of time learning how multiple disorders and issues complicate delivery of services for people. Within our community agencies and treatment centers single focus programs fall short of meeting the holistic needs of the people they serve. More and more the correctional system is becoming the social service agency of last resort.
I began my journey as a high tech nurse supporting people with severe medical conditions and associated physical limitations within their homes. What developed was a unique perspective that provided insight into the benefits of normalizing life experience for people bound to technology in order to live. As an advocate for people with cognitive disabilities I was encouraged to focus on and build on strengths. I coordinated a state-wide project to facilitate communication while increasing understanding between legal professionals and litigants with cognitive and learning disorders. Each of these perspectives taught me the importance of finding value in others. Because I chose this perspective I became effective in empowering those that other “professionals” had given up on. My approach lies in stark contrast to those utilized by professionals whose focus is deficit based.
Courts and their affiliated organizations judge behaviors of litigants and set the tone for rehabilitation. Because these organizations often contract to provide services, they buy into the deficit model of treatment as well. For independent evaluators and service providers, contracts are important contributions of revenue. Because these professionals are beholden to the financial stream, they are only rewarded by echoing the sentiments of the overseeing body requesting treatment.
The place to begin the appropriate but long overdue paradigm shift is within our courts. They have the ultimate power to deprive civil liberties while defining the standards with which we all are forced to conduct ourselves. The huge disconnect between case law and judicial ideology with the down and dirty street reality of everyday life creates and maintains the gross inequities and prejudices of our time.
Time for change and, as I tell my clients, the change starts with me!
Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC