Autism spectrum/A few impertinent questions/Which would produce the most psychologically stunted individuals?
Being emotionally challenged? Or never encountering any challenges?
In Kabul we were told all tourists must be out of Afghanistan before the end of the month, because a revolution was scheduled to take place. We were in Iran exploring the ruins at Persepolis, the ancient Persian capitol, when the Russians first entered Kabul. (Carrying weapons more deadly than belt buckles.) The United States Government expressed shock when the Russians first entered Afghanistan, but no one in Afghanistan was surprised. Something of the sort had been announced when they warned us to be out of the country by the end of the month.
The tour continued through Iran and Turkey, and our “young people’s” group became even more cohesive. Iran was the one country where I was conscious of resentful looks because I was a foreigner. At that time Iran was full of Western oil workers, mostly Americans, and perhaps the two cultures were too different to coexist without resentments. Other travel companies were conducting similar inexpensive tours along the same route through Asia to England. We sometimes met them at hotels where we stayed, and they expressed envy at how much fun our tour was having. Something did seem to be making our tour unique. Haggis, our charming Scottish tour-guide was adventurous and enthusiastic. He knew of a “lit'l wee pub” in every town in Asia. During the bus rides Haggis lectured about the languages, history and customs of the areas through which we drove. He seemed a little harassed as he tried to manage both the first-class tour and the young-people's tour, each in their separate and very different accommodations, but he appeared to be having as much fun as we were. Haggis didn't carry cash for the entire trip. He collected funds sent from England to a local bank on the first of each month. Near the end of the month, the tour would sometimes run out of cash, and we would leave Haggis behind at some hotel until the tour company sent more money to pay the bill. The bus and driver continued on to our next destination. By traveling all night, Haggis would catch up with us.
One evening in eastern Turkey, Haggis organized a costume party for our group at a discotheque in the basement of a former monastery. I dressed as an Easter bunny, in pink flannel pajamas, with a pink scarf for ears. I found myself dancing with an amorous Turkish-carpet merchant. He seemed to be nursing a fantasy that some Western woman might find his charms irresistible and carry him off to the legendary pleasures of the affluent West. In earnest imitation of an Arab sheik, he tried to convince each woman with whom he danced that he had fallen suddenly and madly in love. Could anyone possibly claim my life had been unhappy, I reflected blissfully. I thought about Tony and my other children back in California. Guy and Sherry were adults now and would have to deal with their own problems. I was confident I'd done all I could for Tony. At least I hadn't allowed any psychologist to convince me I rejected my child, and my children seemed reasonably content. Someone who had led a different life than mine might have found that trip mundane and our accommodations depressing, but for me it was the adventure of which I’d always dreamed.
Celia upgraded to the first-class group, and she found her emerald ring in the Istanbul bazaar when we crossed the Dardanelles into Europe. After exploring the Acropolis in Athens, we arrived at the Greek resort-town of Thessalonica on the Adriatic coast during Easter week. From there we would make a side-trip to Delphi, an ancient religious site. There was no problem at the first class hotel, where the Armchair Adventurers stayed, but all the rooms at our second class hotel were taken. They didn't turn us away, however. They put up cots on the mezzanine, and for a couple of nights we all slept together in a row. We discovered that some of us snored. After Greece we entered the Communist-bloc countries at Bulgaria, then Rumania and finally Russia. One couple from the Arm Chair Adventurer's group had been born in Russia and escaped. They left the tour before entering Bulgaria, fearful that the Communists might try to retain them. The Cold War was intense at that time, and the KGB was a sinister symbol of terror. Haggis warned us to obey all rules, for Western justice would be unable to help us if we got in trouble. If we bought black-market, Russian money, he urged us to use it for something consumable, such as champagne and caviar. The border guards would search our luggage when we left Russia to ensure that we didn't have more than could have been purchased with our officially exchanged currency. We learned to elude the surveillance of the official, communist tour-guides assigned to us in each city by splitting into groups and going in different directions. However interaction with the Russians was rarely possible, for few of them spoke English.
One evening we found ourselves at a nightclub in our hotel. The musicians, although unable to speak English, sang popular songs without accent and cowboy songs with a Texas drawl. The music was slow and the dancing sedate.
"You should teach these Russians how to dance," I urged the young Australians, having myself recently learned the uninhibited wiggle young people called dancing.
The evening wore on, and the Russians drank vodka. The music turned frenzied. Suddenly bodies were flying through the air, leaping and spinning and squatting on one leg. Somehow out of all that frantic activity a fight erupted, adding to the chaos. The police were called, and they sent everyone home. The Russians all left docilely enough, and contrary to what we would have expected, no one appeared to be afraid of the police.
We spent two weeks in Russia, driving the length of the country from the Black Sea to the Baltic, and exiting into Finland. As we traveled through Scandinavia, we stayed in youth hostels. In Copenhagen we stayed in an inexpensive hotel in the porno district. We walked along the street and looked at the prostitutes displaying themselves in windows, waiting for customers. Continuing on toward Berlin, we left Haggis at the porno-district hotel waiting for money to pay the bill. The bus driver was new to his job, this was his first trip, and as we arrived in Berlin we noticed the dilapidated buildings and feared that, without Haggis to direct us, we had somehow wandered into East Berlin. I was the only one who spoke any German, and I kept jumping off the bus to ask the way to West Berlin.
"Gerade rous," (straight ahead) was always the answer. Skeptical, and feeling a little apprehensive, we spotted two police on motorcycles and asked them to show us the way to West Berlin. They obligingly turned on their red lights, and escorted us right up to the east side of the Berlin Wall. The East German border guards were indignant and angry. How could they allow us into West Berlin when we had no papers showing that we had properly entered East Berlin? Phone calls brought East German officials in big black limousines, and they held a conference. We waited uneasily, wondering what they might do to us.
"It's not our fault," Celia scolded. "Your police were the ones who brought us here. Really! One would think they should know what they were doing. After all that has already happened to us on this trip. My poor Bill passing on and everything. I had to leave him in Pakistan among the heathen, you see. ."
Finally the two policemen got back on their motorcycles and escorted us to Check Point Charlie.
"Where on earth did you come from?" asked the astonished American border guards. Check Point Charlie was where East Germans tried to escape to the West, and tour buses didn't usually appear there.
"India," drawled our Aussie bus driver laconically.
When we arrived in England, it was still spring. We all stayed together in the same hotel for a week, reluctant to break up the close family we had become. At the time we were unaware that we would be among the last to see some of those countries in their state of innocence, for many of them would soon erupt into revolution and chaos. Conflict seems an aspect of most human societies. Politics, freedom, religion, food, property, philosophy, culture, or just personal hubris - there are so many controversies over which people can disagree. If growth is one of mankind's purposes, I suspect some conflict is a necessary ingredient of normal life. I'm grateful to live in a society where conflicts have become less lethal. Many of the disagreements of this world have been caused by religion, but we even seem to have learned to settle religious disagreements without bloodshed. However a life without some conflict would surely be dull and lacking in purpose. Just amusing oneself might actually be an unsatisfactory way to spend a lifetime. We will never achieve ultimate solutions. Government and anything else involving human free choice will always be imperfect, and require constant adaptation.
- The original images may be found on this pdf copy of the book.
Current page: Which would produce the most psychologically stunted individuals?
- Wouldn’t volition be an essential aspect of creativity?
- Could an inherently creative universe, a living universe, ever be defined by mathematical formulas?
- How did the laws of nature originate?
- Are some scientific concepts too sacred to be debated?
- Are intelligence and creativity two separate and distinct processes?
- Are psychoanalytic theories profound? Or just convoluted?
- If purposeful creativity exists as an aspect of reality, why should we assume it is a process unique to human consciousness?
- Can the value of scientific knowledge ever justify enrolling people in research projects without their knowledge or consent?
- Exactly what technical knowledge enables psychiatrists to manipulate ids, egos and psyches?
- Should "normal" be equated with average?
- What technical knowledge enables psychologists to declare people emotionally abnormal?
- Are psychologists able to scientifically measure parental love? Or its lack?
- Is the universe, including life, an automatic, mechanical process, driven by nothing but the laws of physics and chemistry (the materialist position)? Or do other forces play a role, such as mind, consciousness, judgment and volition - most of which we presently have only have limited understanding?
- Should doctors and scientists refrain from expressing skepticism about theories of colleagues in other fields?
- Do people generally choose the challenges which force them to grow?
- How can we claim to scientifically manipulate thoughts and emotions if we don't even understand how such elusive phenomena relate to physical reality?
- What is faith? If belief that God organized the universe is a matter of faith, why isn't the materialist belief that the universe came together by some accidental, mechanical process also a matter of faith? (Or, the Buddhist belief in self-organization.)
- Are living creatures constantly evolving as they strive to grow and adapt? Or must evolutionary adaptations passively wait around for a random mutation to accidentally pop up in someone's genome?
- Should we have official committees to define scientific knowledge? Or is an ever-changing, constantly-challenged, general consensus our best way to keep our understanding of reality vibrant?
- Could lying on a couch and obsessing over a traumatic childhood ever be therapeutic?
- Would it even be possible to conduct a scientific study to determine whether psychological treatments are effective?
- What is racism?
- Does free-will exist?
- Would obsessing over a traumatic event ever cure any mental illness?
- Could a creative intelligence be an innate aspect of all Nature?
- What would define economic theories as materialistic or non-materialistic?
- Is intolerance often the result of personal insecurity?
- Consciousness and free-will may be defining characteristics of all life, but do we have much understanding of what they actually are?
- Can we do other people's growing for them?
- Are Western democracies civilization’s ultimate achievement?
- Which would produce the most psychologically stunted individuals? Being emotionally challenged? Or never encountering any challenges?
- Could the purpose of life be to participate in the growth of the universe?
- Can science investigate and attempt to describe a non-materialistic version of the universe?
- Current page: Which would produce the most psychologically stunted individuals?