Just Pondering

Do you know the movie “Amazing Grace”, where it takes one person half a lifetime to get enough support to change things for the better? William Wilberforce, along with countless others on both sides of the Atlantic, campaigned for the abolition of slavery. And today we all think badly of all those people who opposed them for so long.
It took even longer before racism itself was accepted as inherently wrong by the majority of people and the same is true for gender discrimination – and we are still struggling on both these issues.

After having done my first public talk about “Healthy Personalities” two days ago, I was left pondering about those who attended – or rather, about those who did not.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not bitter about the small turn-out. I got really positive responses, sold some of my books and was told that I should really take this into the schools, because so many parents and children could benefit from it.

And I would love to. I advertised my talk in due time in all health care centres and schools and in most public places, yet of those who came, three were known to me, and the others were already familiar with the healthy types. None came from the schools or traditional health care providers.

So why, I ask myself – in a world where one mention of vaccinations causing autism can set off a panic among thousands of parents, and where countless people are labelled with mental illnesses like ADD, autism and personality disorders – why would so few of them be interested to learn about healthy personalities?

If my child was given a label by a doctor that stated he was not normal, would I blindly accept it or would I go searching for alternatives?
I know the answer from experience: I would jump on every chance to learn more about personalities, especially healthy ones. I would read everything I could find, search the web, go to every meeting that was announced and I would find a way to send him into the world without the message that he was faulty.

So why then, I wondered, did not one teacher, doctor or parent of all those kids with “unhealthy personalities” seem interested? Was it just because I am not famous and don’t have “PhD” behind my name? Or is it because people respond with more vigour to scare messages than to positive ones? Could it be that most prefer to seek the fault with their child than have to consider their own influence? Or it is simply too complex for most people and they prefer to accept the verdict of someone with a title rather than to question it?

Although all of the above probably play a role, the answer was in the talk itself. My talk was, after all, about personality types and how each filters information differently. So the vast majority of people – including teachers, doctors and politicians – either never even noticed the announcement, because it dealt with a topic that was not programmed into their filter – despite me using the word “personalities” in the title in an effort to connect to their “personality disorders” – or did notice it, but drew conclusions according to what they already believed and assumed that this was not for them.
These same people, just like those who opposed Wilberforce for so long, will eventually accept that personality discrimination is not acceptable, but before that happens a whole generation of children – including their own – will have to grow up believing there is something wrong with them.

So how can I reach those kids themselves before they grow up – because 20 percent of them will be open to this and those are often exactly those children who are being labelled or bullied – so we can help them realize it sooner?
If I go knocking on the door of schools with this, I am most likely to get the same response I got for my talk. “Thanks, but no thanks; we are quite satisfied with the way things are.”
“Even if I can explain the root cause of bullying and help create more tolerance as well as stop children having to feel there is something wrong with them?” I would ask.
“We have policies and we work with the academics, who know what they are doing,” they’d answer.
“But they have known what they are doing for years, yet the suicide rates keep going up and our bullying rates are some of the highest in the world, and we are quickly following the US into feeding almost half of our kids Ritalin in school just so they can sit still. Are you sure you are satisfied?” I’d ask.

And that is what I would like to ask all those who read this. All who know somebody who is bullied, all who know somebody who has been labelled with a mental disorder, and all who worry about violence and abuse: Are you really satisfied with the way things are?

Because I am not.
I know that we can increase tolerance, stop parents feeling guilty, stop children feeling faulty, decrease bullying, stress, violence and abuse. I know the answer is right in front of us and all we need is for more people to start opening their eyes to it – to come to talks, to read and to listen.

And I am not some self-proclaimed oddball. The foundation of this idea, has been known for nearly a century, is accepted by millions, and many better known people than I have made similar efforts and talks, so that I fear that it will be the same as it was for William Wilberforce – most people will keep accepting things the way they are, even if thousands of children will suffer for it, before enough of them speak out and change can happen.

Should I then resort to scare messages to get my point across?
Did I just do so?
Will it work?
Will we be able to get children to assert themselves about their own lives before it is too late for most of them?

I was only pondering, of course, but I would like some answers.