THE PERSONAL IMPOTENCE OF ENGINEERED ADULT AUTISM
By Christine Ford
I had quite an enlightening experience while doing some real live in person Christmas shopping. I went out to the Mall in the hopes of lifting my spirits a little, as I was suffering from that recurring stigma of Holiday Blues that seems to increase for me as each season rolls around. Having done most of my Christmas shopping online this year, and having items conveniently shipped to Florida for my annual return to share this time with my children and grandchild, I hadn’t spent too much time in the stores with the holiday shoppers joyfully perusing purchases to be shared with loved ones! (Hehehe! Tongue in cheek, but a thought!) Noting that perhaps I was missing the “human element” this year, feeling somewhat like a virtual recluse, I thought it might behoove me, and my dour mood, to get right in there elbow to elbow, heart to heart with the crowds and hum Christmas Carols while pondering the ideal gifts for family and friends.
After experiencing three hours of rudeness from customers as well as merchants, after standing in lines to ask questions and getting no answers, after trying to find out the real prices of items, where they were located in the store, if there were any left, and being met with stupidity, insolence, ignorance and just plain hostility at every turn, I reluctantly sulked back to my computer cave to complete my online purchases in the sanctity, sanity and safety of my private little abode. What I experienced, while being depressing and somewhat alarming, was at the same time a real shocker and an eye opener! I find myself asking just exactly what “IT” was that I stepped into and attempted to become a part of!
I am still not at this point sure, but I can tell you all that the overwhelming sadness, the lack of joy, the hollowness and emptiness that cried out to me from the shallow eyes of those I encountered was startling and evoked a poignant feeling of grief and hopelessness within me that is difficult to express. On the other hand, the extreme pushiness, the feeling of “I’m the only one here, get out of my way or else”, the intolerance and non-communication of those bags of blood as they mindlessly swarmed in what appeared to be holding patterns in a massive airport was frightening! The herd moving blindly and totally oblivious of those around them through the labyrinth of aisles without a pause to look or ponder, like rats in a maze, literally running over anyone who dared to break the rhythm left me angry and frustrated, to the point that I had to just leave and sit in my car for fifteen minutes before I could even drive home. I felt as though I were walking through a mass of lifeless, physically animated corpses, whose minds were numb and whose hearts were dead.
There was no acknowledgement or recognition of human kindness, no exchanged glances or greetings, no “excuse me”, “I’m sorry”, or “pardon me” as they forced their way through narrow aisles of stacked items, plodding behind shopping carts moving towards the next item to be numbly placed within the cart, just another item crossed off the list. I was reminded of the Discovery series I have watched where the ants start marching in a stream and that forward momentum stops at nothing, but devours any that may pause or come into its path. It was almost as if these torrents of “people” were communicating somehow on an internal channel like the Borg in Star Trek, with one mass mind devoid of any individuality, driven only by the direction of the flow, carried forward by the get what I want syndrome of gratification. This leads me to ask what has changed, because though I know I struggle with this sensation every year, I have never felt such a slam dunk of sorrow, hopelessness and emptiness in my life.
In the past I’ve written my pre-holiday gloom off to various “osophies and syndromes”, such as the Scrooge syndrome, the old lady crabbiness complex, the Christmas is for children philosophy, the I’m too busy for this crap camp, and the ever faithful, but always true, when did Christmas become nothing more than a merchandising holiday rant. I have in the past, however, been able to somehow overcome and sublimate these feelings of emptiness and shallowness and find a glimmer of hope within the eyes and hearts of those around me. Perhaps it is the romantic part of me that did that, creating joy when it didn’t exist at all, an illusion to lighten the season for myself. Perhaps there is no change in the external circumstances; the crowds may be the same as always, the beauty and joy may be in the air, and I just don’t perceive it; perhaps the change has taken place in me. At this point I cannot determine where the change originates; within the masses, within my perception of them, or from within me. I am surmising that it is a combination of all three, but I have some thoughts as to why it may be happening!
Over the past couple months, I have had the pleasure and delight to hear stories from some of my “Elders”. I hope they don’t take deference to my calling them that, I mean it in the most respectful and reverent way. Though I won’t mention names, at our weekly meditation nights we are blessed with the presence of an incredible couple in their mid 70’s and one beautifully wise woman in her mid 80’s. They have relayed to us memories and experiences of their childhood and growing years that have become true eye openers to us as to the changes that have taken place within all areas of life: familial, societal, governmental, political, ethical, moral, religious, educational, technological… The list could go on and on. I have found that recently my mother, who is approaching her 85th birthday, has been strolling down memory lane with me in her conversations more often as well. From the tales of these experienced and intelligent, caring individuals, I have gathered a wealth of knowledge as to the comparison of the way PEOPLE interacted “then” and how they interact “now”. I have also come to the realization that the manner in which people communicate and hold each other in regard in our present society is dramatically different than it was in my childhood and younger years. Having come to a tentative conclusion as to the why of it, I’d like to share this with you for your consideration and pondering.
It seems to me that what we are experiencing today within all levels of society appears to be a gross depersonalization of humanity, a trend towards self-absorbed behavior that negates interpersonal relationships and makes a mockery of intimacy and true sharing of oneself with others. As this thought turned over in my mind, I quickly became aware of the similarity there was to this premise and the definition of autism which afflicts the children that I teach each day. Autism is a brain disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, causing restrictive, repetitive behavior. The New Latin word “autismus” (English translation autism) comes from the Greek word “autos” and is used to mean morbid self-admiration, referring to “autistic withdrawal of the patient to his fantasies, against which any influence from outside becomes an intolerable disturbance.” Sounds alarmingly like those zombies I experienced while shopping, complete with their inability to see beyond the limiting boundaries of their self defined focus of attention.
May I digress for a moment to be sure that those of you reading this understand that there is a gross difference between autism spectrum disorders, the autism the children I teach exhibit, and what I am suggesting that the masses have been induced into. My children have beautiful moments of feeling and interaction; times when you can reach right in and almost hear their thoughts. They communicate on their own level and in their own very unique ways, using phrases and events they relate to and are familiar and comfortable with to survive in a world they are completely overwhelmed by, not consciously a part of, but this is NOT the type of manufactured autism which I refer to as the stigma that is enveloping and silencing individuals in today’s world. I am merely using the etymology of the word “autism” to convey a point. Let me here refer you to a pdf document in which the use of the word autism brilliantly described the state of education within Economics: Editorial: Still Autistic Finance, by George M. Frankfurter.
In the 1940’s, Leo Kanner, coined the term “Refrigerator Mothers” as an explanation of autism. His premise proposed that cold, frigid, uncaring parents actually created autism a within child. In a 1949 paper, he suggested autism may be related to a “genuine lack of maternal warmth”, noted that fathers rarely stepped down to indulge in children’s play, and observed that children were exposed from “the beginning to parental coldness, obsessiveness, and a mechanical type of attention to material needs only…. They were left neatly in refrigerators that did not defrost. Their withdrawal seems to be an act of turning away from such a situation to seek comfort in solitude.”
Now I know for a fact that this theory is not true, for the parents of my children with autism are some of the most dynamic, communicative, loving individuals you would ever want to meet. Their daily, in fact hourly sacrifices and commitment to the well being of their kids is a whole article that I will write someday. Leo Kanner’s premise is unaccepted in today’s standards as a “cause” of autism but consider for a moment his premise when applied to the societal “parents” leading us in the political, governmental, educational, religious and technological arenas. The coldness, unwillingness to listen, uncaring decision making, demands of more time and more energy with no reward; couldn’t this be the syndrome which Leo Kanner, before his time and missing the mark a bit, may have been referencing in an almost prophetic manner? Have the parents to whom we have entrusted our spiritual, psychological, emotional, mental, physical and financial well being sold us down the river?
Have we slowly become a society of desensitized humanoids creating our sterile, unfeeling prison cells of separation while we exist only within the fantasy of our realms of purely perception? Are we increasingly becoming further isolated and withdrawn from human verbal exchange while being so addicted to technology and constant auditory and visual stimulation of mechanical devices such as television, video games and the like that we have no desire or use for the sound of the human voice, the touch of the human hand, the sharing of the warm gold of the human heart? The more this thought is mulled over in my mind, the more concerned I have become that perhaps there is no hope for the masses of humankind who choose the illusion of the Matrix over the realities of Truth. The Spirituality and beauty that was once the foundation of this sacred holy season has been denigrated and blasphemed by the engineered society, economy, religion and government; just as the U.S. Constitution written by our Founding Fathers is being slowly annihilated and ignored with glee by the same perpetrators. The community and family of the past has been reduced to dinners on the run and cell phone conferences, the joy and love shared at this beautiful season as well as year round has given way to a compressed, harried exchange of “Seasons Greetings” and Happy Holidays”, to the point where one feels politically incorrect and almost ashamed to shout a “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
The sad reality of this has almost hammered me flat this holiday season as person after person, young and old, comment, “Does it seem like Christmas to you? I just can’t believe it’s really that time of year.” This common thread of thought expresses in a vague but concerned manner that there is just something missing, “things” just aren’t right this year. Yes, I agree 100%, something just isn’t right about the feel of the energy and the vibration this year. I do believe that it has to do with the attitudes and emotional states of the PEOPLE who are burdened by time crunches due to increased productivity, money tightness due to financial fiascos of lending institutions, dwindling personal exchanges due to modern technology advances, sadness of loss of young lives in a war that has commonly become referred to as the “Theater” by politicians and the isolation of feeling as if no one cares, no one can make a change, no one has any power, and no one has any voice.
Enter the age of engineered adult autism! Can you say PERSONAL IMPOTENCE any clearer than that? Is it any wonder that people retreat into their joyless shells and stumble around like lifeless marionettes animated only by the strings controlled by those who aspire to “lead” them, while chanting, “I gotta get it done and I only have an hour to do it in?” This is a state that we have gradually and slowly, in infinitesimal increments allowed ourselves to be lulled into, NOT because we are ignorant, but because we trusted those in power, be it in religion, economy, education or the government to put our best interests before any profit margins or private agendas and we forget to ask necessary check-point questions. Where within this dismal picture is human dignity, beauty of the soul, fire of agape, joy of personal exchange and the brilliant solitude of the darkest night of the year breaking into the dawn of the first light of Christmas morning, ablaze with promise and life?
This question I actually have an answer to. That human dignity, beauty, fire, joy and light resides deep within the hearts of each and every one of us. It is within you, and can be discovered, nurtured, fed and replenished only by you. The flame can also be smothered, drowned, hidden and cut off from becoming a blazing torch, but again, that can only be done by you, to you, if you allow the influences of the idea of personal impotence to be your mantra, if you allow ‘engineered adult autism’ to be your choice. The one thing that you cannot do, however, is totally extinguish that flame, for there will always be a tiny glimmer remaining, and that spark will eternally be your connection with the Divine, your Soul and Spirit.
The first light of the dawn of Christmas day is given freely to all, as is the indwelling spark of Genesis. Dr. Strickler points out the fact that it is not the physical sun but our spiritual consciousness represented behind the physical mask of the sun in any system of creation. May this holy season rekindle within you the strength and desire to fan that flame and to break away from the desolate autism of the personal impotence which has been imposed upon you.
May you Find the that Light that Brightly shines within