“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Big Fish

I must admit that I am intrigued by Tim Burton's films. They all have an edge and seem to me at least to have many lessons. In "Big Fish" there is a comment made by Edward Bloom which resonated with me. Before I share it with you, I must tell you that I don't agree with the statement, although there is an aspect of the statement that I very much agree with. Bloom says,

"It was that night I discovered that most things you considered evil or
wicked are simply lonely and lacking in social niceties."

They are "simply lonely and lacking in social niceties." There are some things which are perceived, maybe not as evil, but as deviant or devalued which fit that description. To be deviant is often to be lonely. To lack in social niceties is to be perceived as different in a negative sense. The tolerance by society of minor social skill deficits is limited. In fact, research in special education in the 1980's indicated that the reason most persons with disabilities lose their jobs is due to minor social skill defecits. Persons who are lonely and lack social skills are devalued by society. Persons with cognitive disability are often lonely and are characterized as a group as lacking in social niceties, social skills. They also find themselves devalued.

A question that might be asked, however, is whether loneliness the result of poor social skills, or are poor social skills the result of loneliness? Persons with cognitive disability have been characterized as having minor social skill deficits. Could it be that these deficits are partially the result of limited contact with the general public? Could it be that these deficits are partially the result of loneliness? I know of no research supporting either of these notions, however, it is definately arguable that contributions to the social deficits of persons with cognitive disability might be made by loneliness.

But the other part of the statement is that the speaker says that things he considered evil or wicked were the reslut of loneliness and social niceties. People have perceived persons with disablity as evil or wicked because they didn't understand them and didn't take the time to understand them. We also have very little tolerance for anything outside of the expected socially.

I need to deal with this notion in further depth at a later time, however, the environment, society needs to change. Not all of the tolerance blather that is currently advocated is worth listening to. However, tolerance to minor social skill deficits on the part of society should be something that most can champion. If you give people a little latitude, you will often find that they are great people, much more like you than different from you. However, we as members of the environment need to change. We need to broaden the definition of normal to include those with minor social skill deficits.

We may not be able to completely address the social niceties part of the equation, but we can definitely do something about the loneliness.


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