The depths of our soul


Bird Droppings May 19, 2010
The depth of our souls

I received an email from a dear friend some time ago after I Had written about humor in one of my Bird Droppings and it truly made me think and as I pondered for several days before I responded and it scares me how we can make jest of our dark side often to a point of distain or callousness in regards to our humanity.

Dear Bird,
How about the humor of John Stewart and S. Colbert? Does anyone ever think that some incidents are too sensitive or horrendous to allow for satire or humor?
Frances

My response was along these lines. I have an issue with humor that plays to our dark sides, perhaps even primitive aspects of who we are. Movies like Jack Ass and the humor portrayed, Stewart and Colbert are mild compared to South Park for example as perhaps that dark aspect in entertainment. Colbert is on a higher intellectual plane than South Park to some extent. The audiences thrive on it sadly enough and I think it is this aspect of humanity that allows the atrocities of man to happen as well. I remember once in Sixth grade a girl in special education who lived in the worst part of the community not even public housing shacks along the river outside town. The joke was calling people names derived from that community and or specific people that lived there. I look back and I know I probably did this as well yet maybe it is my karma to be making up for my part. I still cringe when I hear the word retard even more so than the n-word having been directly involved in Special Education for so long. I am reading on Foucault currently and much of his base in his writing is focused on mental institutions and “normal” versus “abnormal” and I wonder as I read and see, watching American Idol and how judges be little people and some who are special needs. What a sad state our society is in.

“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.” Aristotle

Looking back having been in the education of special needs kids when discussing with other teachers who have been in similar situations we will joke about events and students of the past. Not at a students expense as much as the moment and ourselves for example being bitten or changing a really nasty diaper. Often common place in some settings are humorous when we look back. One of my favorite over the years was an OCD student who once asked me 54 times if he could hold our class room pet Stevie the wonder snake a ball python. I am the world’s greatest planned ignorer; I ignored him and was working at my computer. This was before school and a general education student who did not have the capacity for patience and or ignoring that I do final blurted out to the young man “I love you” and tapped him on the shoulder. He took off to farthest corner in the room. She then asked me did I not hear him and I said I use planned ignoring and really did not after three or four times. I still have contact with this OCD student and he is in twenties and not in school and literally unemployable. When our previous principal took over six years ago he was so terrified from middle school of this man he couldn’t be in the same building so he sits at home and watches TV. His disability keeps him from working and leading a “normal” life.

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.” T. S. Eliot

As I think and wonder maybe it is seeing the issues at hand and simply using as a medium for truth for opening eyes as I look at some of the dark humor of our time. But I do not see people viewing that way, I see people watching a movie or show and laughing at often human frailty, human aspects and at other human beings. Over the past weeks I have written several papers dealing with the search for the human soul. An aspect that Jung, Hillman, and Moore all psychologists and authors write extensively on.

“Education must ensure that not only the material but the inward life of the individual be developed. Education should address not the isolated intellect, as the advocates of standards suggest it ought, but the hopes and dreams of the self of which intellect the complex reflective self is merely a part.” Allan Block

We get so caught up in testing, pretesting, predictor testing and testing of testing we lose sight of which children really are and could be. I have used the term funneling in regards to education as an example. By forcing as much as possible into a bottle through a funnel much will over flow. It is often these aspects of individuality and context for example that get left behind.

“Piercing through the illusions of modern life is extremely difficult, given a culture where advertising and other media forms are organized so persistently to produce mass public deception” D. G. Smith

Smith, points to an ongoing issue we have in finding who we are and why, the illusions of modern life.

“Obliterate the lines between fact and fiction” D. G. Smith

We live in a society where deception is part of life. We listen to politicians tell us what we want to hear and or think we want to hear and we follow blindly. Why do we have to win a war “divisively”? Why do we even ….. ? I was very frustrated listening and knowing how much was based on deception on lies and yet billed as we have to keep going what ever it takes. As we slowly lose our humanity.

“Maybe this is the time to embark collectively on a new long journey inward, not for the purpose simply of celebrating our personal or collective subjectivities, but for the more noble one of laying down the outward things that enslave us.” D. G. Smith
This inner look is mentioned often as psychologists and theologians struggle with the concept of who we are.

“We need to know more of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself” Carl G. Jung

Is it in uncovering our past and memories that provide us with a part of looking at who we are? The idea that soul or spirit is just confined to religion can be seen in the understanding of what constitutes that inner search. A word used often as a search word is faith and is explained in Dr. James Fowler’s book The Development of Faith published in 1981.

“Faith is not always religious in its content or context. To ask these questions of oneself does not necessarily mean to elicit answers about religious commitment or belief. Faith is a persons or groups way of moving into the force field of life.” Dr. James Fowler

The search and looking within trying to understand who we are trying to find our soul is a part of who we are. It is what makes us human and drives in how we interact with the existing world and how we perceive that world.

“The subjective side of spirit is nature, matter and human life. But this subjective side that moves through us is unconscious” Dr. Marla Morris –

Spirit is then who we are subjectively?

“Somewhere between reality and fantasy, between need and want, between the affect and the idea, and between dependency and autonomy, there can emerge the material from which the subject spins a life” Deborah Britzman –

We end in metaphysical subjectivity as to what is this entity of spirit and or soul? Deciphering the concept of soul which too often is tied to a religious connotation is challenging. Thomas Moore, a student of James Hillman, a former priest and now psychologist and counselor defines the concept of soul.

“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with the depth value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use the word here as an object of religious belief or something to do with immortality. When we say someone has soul we know what we mean.” Thomas Moore

“Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the soul that makes us human. We can turn around and note that is when we are most human we have the greatest access to soul” Thomas Moore

Mary Aswell Doll in the introduction to her book Like letters in running Water, includes in her thoughts her interdisciplinary studies with religion and psychology that help probe the inner workings of soul. It is only through coming to terms with inner understanding that we can address outer concerns. It takes inner looks to stir and fire up the imagination and to build and develop ideas and expand learning.

“To talk about the “soul”, we might as well say inner life of children. My latest book Education and the soul talks about Soul in a moral sense, which is really taken out of a religious sense” Jack Miller

It is that inner being of who are that is our soul. Is it soul that we are leaving behind in our effort to be the ultimate consumer to produce children who can test and test well and take another test and do well. Children who will listen without questioning the deceit of politicians and advertising and buy products they do not need and support wars not needed and politicians who are not needed. There are so many thoughts to ponder but in my ending today as I have for nearly ten years please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

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