If anyone looked at my library they could reasonably assume I am a self-help junkie. If they asked, “So what do you think?” They would realize I don't buy into much of that crap. 🙂
I received a link via email today for a site promoting Gary Chapman's book/theory The Five Love Languages along with this question, “So, what do you think?” I would have thought she would know better than to end an email to me with that question. :-0 Maybe by now she does. 😉
The Five Languages are described as “Words of Affirmation”, “Receiving Gifts”, “Physical Touch”, “Acts of Service” and “Quality Time.”
There are a lot of interesting observations and cultural stereotypes that can be codified in this way or that. I don't think it does much good, or much harm either except in unique individual circumstances. After all, if there was one clear, consistent, generally applicable method for getting everything you deserve spiritually, physically, emotionally and materially we wouldn't be such a needy, desperate, fearful society. We'd just each follow our little guru and have no conflicts or inner turmoil. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and all that peace and love stuff would be the natural order if anyone had figured this junk out yet.
I see it like this, quilts usually have a pattern but if you just duplicate the pattern have you made a quilt? No, the pattern is the visible, obvious result of deliberate choices. Mimicking the pattern gives no value to the decisions that go into the final quilt such as choice of thread, thread tension, tie-off knots, batting, edging and so on.
I see patterns everywhere, which is why my outlook on life, and this column, is “Its All Related.” I think the patterns are vital even though they are not the entire substance of life, or quilts or relationships. So when a self-help celebrity codifies a particular niche of communication, self-awareness, relationships and success in a vocabulary of safe-haven clich's and a list of 7 (+/- 2) essential components of their special pattern I can appreciate the work and dismiss it as inconsequential at the same time. Authors of this stuff have been trained to succeed in a culture that gobbles up these little cookie cutter versions of psychological kibble. In books, lectures, teaching workshops and tenured positions they teach each other to be productive cogs in the psychobabble/education industry. I'm sure my own book shelves have provided many a supper and bottle of wine for such ideological craftsmen.
Unfortunately for me, for every successful author of such works of psychological quilting patterns there are a thousand who just like to talk about it, incessantly, everywhere. They can't understand me and I'm bored with them so I just be polite. It has nothing to do with intelligence, we simply come from incompatible frames of reference. Those who eventually begin to understand what I mean by patterns and niches usually become deeply offended. Except those who do not. A former girlfriend, Sharon, for instance, when we were together she and I used to have great conversations about this because she has a Masters Degree in social work and has spent her life delivering these patterns directly to individuals in exchange for cash! Her view was that we all start from right where we are now. Some people have never seen this stuff before or never seen it presented in a way that resonates with them until that one time…that is what Sharon works for, that one break-through. This was our common ground. That is what I work for too. I completely understand such an outlook.
She was content to wait until an individual was messed up enough so that they or someone else, or everyone else would pay for them to receive therapy. We Fire Eaters work to change the thinking that leads to decisions that lead to our current socio-economic and political environments. Mrs. Fire Eater's current focus is the local school board. We aren't parents but we care about how the school spends our tax money. She started covering the school board meeting out of duty to her editor and because we can literally see the roof of the school from our house. She immediately got interested in several issues that were festering and became involved with the District Accountability Committee, the DAC. This is a State mandated body of parents, appointed by the school board and given specific tasks at the direction of the school board.
When the smaller, prettier Fire Eater explained our view of the situation the DAC suddenly became an effective, aggressive defender of children's rights and education AGAINST the board and superintendent. Over the past month these few parents who have been frustrated and even ridiculed publicly for their expectation that the board or superintendent cares one bit what they say or do, have begun to focus on the school board elections in 2009 and IMMEDIATELY some school board members began to listen to them. One of them was appalled at the quality and importance of the things the DAC had been trying to accomplish and he was ashamed of his role in shutting them out.
Previously the parents had been trying to counter the board and superintendent's statistics and references to studies with their own independent research. Fire Eater reasoning pointed out to them that this is exactly what is “supposed” to happen. The whole mechanism, the DAC, their tasks and the indifference to the them shown by the administrators is designed to occupy concerned, participating parents with junk satisfaction, busy work and meaningless reports; to keep them from interfering with the function of the system as determined by the administration. School administrators represent some of the most insidious anti-family activists imaginable. They have devoted their lives to becoming effective at implementing the mandates of the state education industry. They are dangerous because they really believe their actions are benevolent, statisticly, to students. Perhaps not to any particular student under their jurisdiction, but to the overall sample, which is far more important and interesting than the details of specific students. Specific parents who persist in their assault on the system are subject to an attack similar to one by a pack of wolves. The defensive druids of public education flow effortlessly into an organized attack against any threat, real or perceived. Most parents will go away on their own rather than be repeatedly exposed to such ruthlessness from supposed public servants. In large school systems with people coming and going all the time no one notices. Here in our pointy lands the entire school has 300 students k-12. When 7 kids leave one class it is pretty obvious there is a problem.
Public school administrators are akin to the American Medical Assocation whose edict that any Dr. who believed in microbes and demonstrated such a belief by washing prior to performing a surgery or delivering a baby would be deemed insane and unfit to be licensed in the medical profession. This faith-based proscription enforced by the AMA is estimated to have resulted in 50 million deaths of infants and mothers over the 50 years that this edict constrained the progress of hygiene and sanitation in the medical world…in the US. Advances in the study of germs, bacteria and microbes of all sorts we made in Europe during that entire period. I'd bet the damage done by US public education will tally 10 times that attributed to the AMA.
They are also a lot like the various religious sects that deny medication even to save a life. They are so invested in their own faith, faith in the statistics of education, that they cannot tolerate any change, or even the serious consideration of significant change, because doing so tarnishes their credibility as the “experts”. Their guild hierarchy depends on the culture of expertism leading to elitism. They live and breath, eat, sleep and dream statistics and studies, programs and surveys, they crave data from which to build their own statistics, making their personal contribution to the cause. Parents, untrained laymen attempting to fight on that battlefield do not threaten the administrators. It would be like a Native American trying to explain the Great Spirit to the conquering Catholics.
The eternal conflict between parents and public school administrators is yet another example of incompatible frames of reference. It doesn't matter whose faith is right, only who has the power to force their faith upon others. Faith in socialism and policies determined by statistics and central planning is just the basis for another destructive religion as far as I'm concerned. School administrators and state education industry bureaucrats at every level should wear hoods and robes to promote the full force of their culture. Every barrier between a teacher and a parent is a detriment to the individual child. When those barriers serve to diminish the authority of the parent in the eyes of the child, to make the parent seem, and indeed be, impotent in the face of a school superintendent, they are agents of destruction of the concepts of family, community and local control in favor of state orchestration of sad, demented facsimiles of these social units. Ideas have consequences and the ideas behind our State Education Industry have horrible consequences in my opinion.
The recent local controversy was the intent to survey 4th graders using a Center for Disease Control survey that is freely available at the CDC website. The survey is intended for 15 year olds. It says it is written to a 5th grade reading level so our locals decided 4th grade is close to 5th…no problem. They sent home passive permission slips and no copy of the survey. Meaning that unless the parents were just generally opposed to surveys regardless of their content and opposed strongly enough to respond with a denial of permission, the survey would be administered to their child. When a parent took it upon herself to look at the CDC site she was appalled. Questions about sex, drugs and suicide were definitely not appropriate for 4th graders. A simple search on the internet yielded a huge controversy over administering such questions to 15 year olds, let alone these younger children.
The poor parents have elevated Mrs. Fire Eater from newspaper reporter to a trusted advisor in tactics and strategy. Some parents had taken workshops designed to help parents become effective participants in the educational system. The Mrs. laughed at them and asked how effective they have been since the workshop? They have certainly had more to do because now they have a guide to follow….to NO WHERE!
Anyway, this local situation illustrates more examples of the patterns of power and control. James Redfield called them “dramas”, patterns defining the way one personality type seeks to receive energy from another. One of the first books I had Mrs. Fire Eater read was the Celestine Prophecy so we could align our frames of reference regarding the constant struggle for power. Once she understood the patterns, the dramas, we have never engaged in one. We are united in our acceptance of each other and the basis for our being able to not sweat the small stuff.
The one topic from this Gary Chapman link that doesn't fit for us is “receiving gifts.” We are not enamored of symbols. For us, actions are love, love is an act, a verb. Things, even words, are only symbols, descriptions of love. These are not the same thing to us. Turning love into a noun was inevitable as thinking men turned to abstractions of reality in their navel-gazing philosophies. Once love was known as a noun, other nouns could be substituted as symbols for it. Ring, Flower, Card, car, more flowers, more cards, more stuff, trinkets, fluff and junk. Once the symbol has become representative of the real act of love the flow of symbols must be continued or it will be perceived as if the love has stopped rather than just the flow of symbols. What is the real problem? What is the perceived problem? Can acting on one influence the other? No gifts for us.
“Quality time” is self-limiting for us. We spend every minute of every day in the same room unless one of us is off for business or politics. Our quality time is when we are deep in discussion, exploring differences of perspective and looking for our remaining incompatible frames of reference, or bouncing along silently in the jeep on a 4X4 trail, or listening to Frank Marino at top volume or critiquing a movie, or a bureaucrat, or an icon. The last incompatible frame of reference we found was religion. Mrs. Fire Eater always referred to herself as an Atheist and I knew that she wasn't one at all so we had some very interesting conversations around that until she finally had one of those break-throughs. She is no longer an Atheist in her own mind, which is the only place she ever was one. Now she is also a non-religious anti-religionist. Whereas a typical American Atheist is usually a very religious anti-Christian we have no particular issue with Christianity or Atheism or any other religion. We are staunch advocates of religious freedom because that protection also allows us to be non-religious. It doesn't matter to us which choice any individual makes, it is the freedom to choose that we defend. As long as no one demands we share their faith we will defend their right to it. This one issue is the crux of the force that is shredding the Republican Party and the primary hurdle we must conquer before ever ridding the GOP leadership of fear-driven warmongering religious warriors. A daunting objective if ever there was one.
An “act of service” for Mrs. Fire Eater is sometimes leaving me alone for long periods of time even though we are both sitting in the same room. An act of service for me is that when she does interrupt me or ask something of me I jump to it immediately even though I'd had really not wanted to be interrupted.
We had to work out “words of affirmation.” I don't appreciate being thanked for every little thing. I am miserly with my speech. I hate small talk, especially small talk patterns involving thank you, you're welcome, over and over every day; or apologies for every little thing. I have been nicknamed Mr.Oblivious because I just don't care about the small stuff. When these small things are continuously brought to my attention with an apology, THAT gets on my nerves. So, what we worked out is to not just offer hollow 'thank yous' for every little considerate act or word but to give praise, say what you like. So instead of saying, “thank you for making dinner”, “you're welcome”, “thank you for bringing in firewood”, “you're welcome”, “thank you for doing dishes”, “you're welcome”, “thank you for warming up the bed”, “you're welcome” we just say, I'm glad you did the dishes because my fingers are chapped, or “I'm so glad you made dinner because all I had was a carrot for lunch”, or “Watching you split wood makes me Horny.”
I covered “physical touch” above by saying love is an act, sometimes an act of physically touching.
I'm not really oblivious though. My priorities are highly attuned to specific things. For instance, when someone does something that makes more work or an inconvenience for me I notice. When there is a much better way of doing it and one that does not cause me more work I am very insistent, even pedantic, about it. Much as I am about actions that inhibit the rule of law, individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and the freedom to defend these principles. Its all related.
Sorry this is so long, wait, no I'm not sorry, it just is…but now its ended.
See what you get for ending an email the way you did?
-Jahfre Fire EaterTweet
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