World Peace Suit of Armor
Your homework this week is to own each and every death… That’s all the people that die, and while you are at it, take on the insects too!
The Psychologist seemed a little frustrated with me when he offered this assignment. I was in grief therapy trying to process my Father’s recent death. This was my very first time ever in therapy and I was the very first ASD person that my grief therapist had encountered in practice. On this session we had ventured into my Desert Storm experience and I was unsettled. The Doctor tried to tell me how some things are too big to own. He explained how he personally can only manage to care for himself, his family and a small group of outside people. He insisted that people are designed to only be able to “own” so much. I was shocked to hear him say this. I argued that his logic was wrong. If his logic were true then the Nobel Peace Prize would not exist. I then got a bit indignant and declared that my company (and furthermore I) do work that changes the world, not just our own little area. Finally I told him I would prefer not to adopt his self-limiting belief system.
It was then that I got the assignment to personally own all the deaths of every person this week and every insect too while I was at it. He softened a bit after giving the assignment and then continued in almost a whisper. “A normal person would end up standing in the corner laughing at the absurdity of this request. But you… You will quite possibly come back here with the World Peace Suite of Armor.” I realize that it is quite possible that he was being sarcastic when he assigned this task to me but that is his “bad” because he should have known that I do not DO sarcasm.
We ended the session shortly after this. He did some “closure” type of statements including complimenting me on my overall attitude and spirit. I think that it is rare for him to cross one so stubborn and so committed, not to mention one who will challenge him so freely. When I said my goodbyes and left the room, I heard him comment that the session was an invigorating one. He confided in my last session that he lives for sessions like mine, but I think this is “self talk” he does to get through them. J
And so began my homework assignment for this week. I called it “Operation World Peace Suit of Armor”. At first, I wasn’t sure how to begin, and considered not thinking about it at all and blowing it off as sarcasm and not a real assignment. But I know from my life experience that if you really want to learn about a problem, you need to own the problem. So with that I decided that I would set aside 30 minutes total time of my week and “own” the deaths of all the people and all the insects that I could.
I began this assignment by looking at the obituaries as a starting point and categorizing all the deaths by type, age and gender. I took notes about the type of death and determined that I could either do something about it or I could not. An age related death was one I could not and would not care about. A traffic related death I could do things about. A murder I could do something about…. Etc. As I was doing all of this it occurred to me that this could be very time consuming with very little return on investment. This led me to instead focus on the “insect” population. I had 10 min left by this time so I set out to see what 10 minutes of my time meant to the insect population and to validate my belief system that I alone CAN make a difference in this world, that is WAY bigger than me and my small circle. So I composed a note that solicited help from all of my facebook and blogger friends and I asked them to save and tally the insects. People from all over the world started to respond and within a week we had some amazing findings and results.
Final tally at one week was 3569.5 (the .5 is for the ant that one friend tried to save from the cat but the cat was too fast.)
Given that my action, all alone, affected thousands of insects’ lives by expending just 10 minutes of my time, it can easily be concluded that if I were to focus my energies on this problem a bit more, that those numbers could easily grow into the millions.
This is actually an amazingly large number when you consider the odds against me from my view, if I were to take the Doctor’s perspective and advice. From my view it was winter and there were no bugs or few bugs. If I had only myself and a small circle of local friends to ask, this task would have been impossible.
But my lesson taught me more than knowing that I can affect the insects of the world. Because more important than the Math part of this experiment was the unexpected (by me) human side. This is the part that really touched me and helped me heal. This is the part that solves the problem. People from all over the world answered my request. Many of these people have never met me in real life and only know me from online. If you think about this, it is really special that they all so willingly participated given that the request was very strange and very against normal human behavior.
The collective energies of my friends across the world to my “Save the Insect” threads created synergy and laughter. The stories some of them came up with were hilarious. A giant plastic ant found its way onto my kitchen counter one day when I was at work (left by my neighbors who were also participating.) Laughter, compassion and empathy were flowing from everyone involved and the project became increasingly fun. And here is where the results became bigger than the 3569.5 and bigger than me. It became “we”…
I believe that the more we raise these energies, the better this earth becomes, so in this way, my silly little homework assignment had a positive effect on the greater human good of this world. I could feel the warmth from it for days… And this is just for today… It doesn’t speak to how these actions (all triggered by my simple 10 min request) could impact tomorrow. Think about my friends who have children who were taught compassion for a lowly creature and empathy for a person they and their parents quite possibly never met. Do those children grow up with higher values through these lessons and do they raise children with the same values? If we can raise the level of empathy and compassion over the next 10 generations from where it is today, is it quite possible that indeed we could come to “world peace?”
Okay, so perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it fits nicely with my belief system that every little action I take… every decision I make every single day has an impact outside of me. It isn’t just the actions I take but the actions that I don’t take. So when I was finished telling my story to the Doctor the next week, his silence and contemplation of my words spoke volumes to me. He had clearly not expected that I do anything quite so remarkable or bizarre. I do not remember what his words were when they finally did come, but on my way out that day I remember him thanking me profoundly for the story that he would cherish for the rest of his days.
And that (my friends) is why we need different perspectives and why the world needs autistic people too.