Perspective is a single point of view. To understand something we need to view it from every possible perspective. But as a rule we stick with one perspective only. So a single box can look like a square, a box, a weird book shape, or even a sort of diamond. One object, many aspects. My name is Tricia Stone. I am a writer, a researcher, a volunteer with a Research Forum in Neurological Disability, a mother and a carer.
For some years now one of my projects has been researching for a book on History and the manipulation of perspective called The Legacy of Babel. What does that have to do with Special Needs? A lot more than you would think from more than one perspective.
Over time languages have changed, countries, boundaries, living conditions, knowledge base. But the one constant is Human Nature. We all want shelter, food, love and value. But there have always been those who believed they deserved more than others, deserved to take at the expense of others. They became the manipulators of perspective.
In really, really ancient times life was hard but simple. You found shelter, you made shelter. You found food, you defended, you lived and loved, maybe even created in the moments of plenty. Everybody played the role they could. Hunter, Gatherer, Innovator, Carer. There are some who would have us believe that those with disabilities were ‘disposed’ of as useless. But forensic evidence shows healed fractures, people who died as adults with wasted lower limbs but developed upper bodies that show caring. So at what point in history did that caring turn to sacrifice and discrimination? At what point was perspective changed to say that some people could have no value that some people were to be blamed for the ills that affected others?
We have roles; hunters; the strong, the fast runner, the good shot, the good tracker, gatherers; the knowledgeable, the patient, the observant, the determined, the long stay hard worker, innovator; the one who sees a problem and how to solve it, the one who decides to plant the crops in one place rather than seeking randomly, the carer knowing the young and their needs, teaching, observing, knowing how to care for wounds and ills. Then you have the manipulator, the one who isn’t really very good at anything and can’t be bothered to learn. The one who uses words to distort opinion and view, who says there is no food because the women are too forward, the cripples take too much, the young are too free, the old are too many. If we are wise we know them for who they are, if we are not tired and worn down with worry, fear, apprehension but doubt and fear make it easy for the manipulator, we doubt our own ability to interpret the situation, the facts. We settle for the point of view we are shown and hurry back to the business of surviving. The group goes along with the plan to increase their chances of survival and the insidious manipulator gains ever more control. It’s easier to listen to him next time, until eventually the group seeks his opinion. Then he becomes the power, not the Hunter, the Gatherer, the Innovator or the Carer, none of the people who actually provide for the group because they have stopped trusting themselves, stopped looking at the problem from all angles. They see only the perspective they are given. What happens when the Manipulator points the finger at you, when he tells everyone you are the problem?
We all have a role to play. My beautiful little boy was my Inspiration. He drove my research; he drove my work, which in turn inspired other scientists to take that work further. Their work will help develop treatments, direct understanding of brain development in the young. There are those who would have us believe children like my son are parasitical, useless. But I know different, I know he is the origin of scientific wonder. I know he is amazing, a God given gift to the world.
That’s my perspective, what’s yours?