For Understanding: Classification versus Stereotyping

label tagI want to be clear… stereotyping of groups of people in such a way as to imply that “ALL of the group ARE this” is commonly seen as wrong. After all, every individual is their own person and no group of people are ALL the same… groups are made up of individuals.

For the sake of order and efficiency in our lives we do tend to catagorize things and classify people into generalized groups based on some kind of common trait. Inside those groups there may be subdivisions within that classification and maybe subsets of those. There may be such great difference discovered that an entirely different group is created. Labelling is an ongoing process as we learn more and maybe even redefine our criteria for a group.

Like many people, I order, categorize and label to quickly identify and efficiently use my time. I also use them for gaining quicker understanding. My groups or labels or terms may not necessarily agree with someone else’s who may have a different understanding or judgment of where something fits.

Since I have spent a good deal of time lately in conversation with a number of people who do not think the same way I do (in fact some in direct opposition to as I do) I thought this would be a good time to lay down a basis of better understanding.

THIS is what I mean when I use these terms: #Atheist (they call themselves this -no God)  #Angry or #Mad (predominantly displays anger, bitterness and criticism of others) #God-hater (displays hatefulness toward God, Jesus, Bible, and Christians) These terms defined by the everyday common understanding of the words: #Illogical or #Unreasonable (not following logic, reason) #Lie (not #True, contrary to the truth, facts, or nature of something) #Wrong (may be #mistaken, but definitely not #right which I use God’s ultimate standard as well as general humane definitions) #Bible (The Word of God, originated by God and recorded by divinely chosen men for benefit of mankind’s understanding God, truth, love, wisdom and how to live good and upright lives), #God (God as revealed in the #Bible, God of Abraham,Isaac & Jacob, Yahweh, “I Am,” Alpha & Omega, Everlasting Father, Almighty, Sovereign, Eternal, Omniscient, Creator of the universe and all that is in it, Sovereign, Provider, Sustainer, HOLY = pure good, love, truth, righteousness).

Being a Christian I do not pretend to know all the various forms of atheism and their subtle differences. As a Christian the foundation of my faith and life is Jesus Christ, truth and love. Love God and love others as myself.  Contrary to the accusers of me on twitter, I do not judge that a person is EVIL because they believe differently than I do.  Belief is an individual choice.

However, if anyone, believer or not, shows contempt for others and lies about truth I am compelled to speak against that bad behavior. That is admonishment — confronting lies with truth, wrong doing with righteousness.

It is not an easy thing to do. It is not a fun thing to do. But it is the RIGHT and LOVING thing to do. Depending on the degree of harm being done and whether I believe the person is even receptive to or respectful of the dignity and direction of truth, I may try to speak truth that exposes the wrong in hopes that misunderstandings are corrected and bad behaviors cease. All of us make mistakes. I would hope that someone else would do the same for me.

Like the wisdom of scripture states, there are those who have hardened hearts, deaf ears and are blinded to truth and righteousness. At those times when it is clear that the perpetrator has no desire to truthfully analyze or correct, there is no point in preceding. Don’t cast pearls before swine. Leave them with their depraved mind. Kick the dust off your sandals and walk on.

LIVING A GOOD LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE WITH OTHERS

Like most people, I enjoy hanging out with people that do the same things I like to do or generally believe the same things I do. Our experiences shared with our family and friends are the real memory makers that we get to enjoy over and again.

However, I also have great friendships “outside of my circles” where I am getting to know people I would not have even met in a sequestered life. The most profound discoveries of new friends happens as I engage in my online excursions. Social media after all is social.

I enjoy learning of various world-views from people that are not normally in my social circles. It is quite invigorating to engage in conversations with these new friends; growing in understanding of other people and ideas that I previously didn’t know. “Come let us REASON together,” is a welcome invitation to learn from one another and examine things together.

The experiences that I have with people helps in me to understand so very much more than I did before I had the blessing of knowing them. Even those who have been unpleasant to me have taught me valuable lessons in human behavior and communication. God is so very good. He allows us to grow in truth, love and wisdom as we encounter people who do not employ them. They demonstrate for us the consequences we have been told in the Bible will befall the liars, selfish, and foolish . . .without us actually having taken that particular path ourselves. Likewise, others can learn from our shortcomings when we share them transparently. ALL of us make mistakes. ALL of us can learn from those mistakes and help one another not to repeat them. Iron sharpens iron.

In closing, I believe that labels are just labels. They are not meant to define a person. They are just one way of quickly identifying what is same or different, or to point to a place. I believe that making statements about the characteristics of a group does not mean that it always applies, all the time, to all the individuals of the group. General statements about groups of people are that . . . generally speaking . . . for the most part.

The problem that I see with those who stereo-type is that they misuse labels. They proclaim that ALL people of this certain group are ALWAYS ________ (insert their claim). THAT in my opinion is the key difference between labeling and the wrongness of stereo-typing . . . having the label defining the person places one’s judgment of a person over who that person actually may be.

What do you think about this topic? I welcome your comments.

What Do We Know?

  
Consider knowledge. Is one who knows something better off than one who trusts that “ignorance is bliss”? Maybe the ignorant are blissful in not knowing what dangers and terrible consequences awaiting them due to their lack of knowledge. But does that make them “better off” living in the bliss of the moment without care? YOLO! Who knows? Can we know? How can we “know” anything?

With each passing year, I am learning that the key to learning is to understand there is so very much that I do not know so it is good to keep my eyes and ears open for all those teachable moments. In fact, I am fairly certain in saying that I don’t even know how much knowledge there is that I don’t even know, but I am certain I know less than I think that I know. 

The person who says “I know ALL about _______” (insert topic here)  just gave proof that they place more value on what they think they know than pursuing more of what there is yet to learn. The wise teacher is the one who first considers himself a perpetual student.

I am learning: It is not simply what I know, do, nor possess that really matters . Rather, my life is enriched because of knowing Whose I am, WHO I belong to; what God has done, is doing and will do; and that He loves me and others so very much He desires to be with us. God gives me life with passion and purpose. Where He leads me I will follow. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. He is sovereign, almighty, tender, righteous, holy, loving, merciful, forgiving, wrathful, gracious, generous, and so very much more! GOD does things that are for our own good and serve His purposes. ALL the glory is HIS! 

When it comes to knowledge, I think we have to consider the source…the base of our knowledge.

Since I know that God is the source of all things ever created on heaven and earth, I naturally use God’s Word written in the Holy Bible as my final authority as to whether something is truth or lie, good or evil, right or wrong (sin, error), something in which to engage or avoid, etc. Since God used His Word to reveal Himself to us it is one of my greatest treasures. Since there is only one truth and because we humans can even misinterpret our own motivations and limited perceptions, I look to the One who is Himself Truth- God is the ultimate authority. He has told us to test everything against the truth of scripture. 

If anything is proposed to run contrary to God’s word or a person fears being put to such a test, then I simply don’t accept it as being true or right. It’s really that simple. If God’s Word judges a matter, what man does in accepting that matter speaks to whether he places himself under the authority of Almighty God or not.

We are given the opportunity to be blessed because of God’s many good gifts to us: our very lives, His creation and nature, His Word, our Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit which seals and empowers us with His strength, growth in His truth, grace and mercy. All of this abd blessings continue as we get to pray and relate with others throughout our daily living. 

We are also very blessed to know that although this world is full of diversity and different cultures and beliefs, we were ALL equal in the way in which God sees and deals with us: same predicament as it relates to sin and death or righteousness and life:

• ALL ARE GOD’S CREATION. We are ALL created by the One true God. Therefore our showing reverence and obedience is not an unexpected demand from God. Wouldn’t we be foolish and rebellious not to listen to the One who made us and knows what is best for us?

•ALL ARE BORN GUILTY. Since sin entered the world, we are ALL under the curse of sin. ALL of us who are able to act on our own have done or thought something wrong or been disobedient at some time. At least once. God has proclaimed that even one sin is enough to separate us from Him. We fall short of God’s perfection and are therefore under the penalty of death. But God’s grace is greater than all of our sin. Read on.

• ALL NEED SAVED. Therefore we ALL are in need of the Savior…the LORD Jesus Christ, who sent by the Father, offered Himself as THE perfect sacrifice, once and for ALL. He died on the cross & conquered death to atone for all the sins of anyone who will place their trust in what He has done on their behalf. Not only does Jesus take away our sins curse, but He also bestows upon us His perfect righteousness! So why is it that people reject that gracious gift of eternity?

• BELIEVE OR REJECT. Each one of us has to see our sins for ourself. We need to confess them, and realize that they are not just mistakes but a glaring offense to the Holy God. The guilt of even one tiniest of sins is still an indictment on us …making us God’s enemy. God gave us the Law (ten commandments) to demonstrate that even the most upright person cannot possibly ever be good enough to please God. God commanded specific sacrifices and procedures of worship to periodically atone for sins. That is, until God sent Jesus.

God’s wrath can only be overcome by His love…John 3:16.

That is the same for ALL of us.

Being a redeemed child of God and Christ-follower is a relationship and not a religion or tradition. Religions of works attempt to earn their way to heaven. GOD’s word states that is impossible –“there is none righteous, not even one.” And that “it is not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by God’s grace, so that no one can boast”. In works based religion man relies on himself and looks for reward. As a born-again Christian I know that all praise rightly goes to the One who saved us and takes us as sinners, redeems us through His own goodness and keeps us as His beloved children. How awesome is that?!

RELYING ON SELF IS REJECTING JESUS. Every person who relies on what they themselves do is not coming to God through the only Way given by God. For Jesus said it of Himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 God simplified our way to Him by being only One Way so we don’t need to be confused by all the false prophets and schemes of the devil. Again…looking at the Holy Bible as my proof text…by simply checking a false teaching 

EVEN PROPHETS KNOW. The blessed holy prophet Isaiah was selected by God as an instrument for telling God’s words to fellow men. Yet, even he was prostrating himself and knew that all mens’ righteousness is as filthy rags, that his own lips were unclean, etc. Why is it that we today who were not so directly summoned into God’s presence think we are without sin and somehow pleasing to Him?

WORTHY IS THE LAMB! It’s because the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb… Jesus…His blood washed away our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Worthy is the Lamb…to receive honor, and power, and praise, and adoration, and glory…and so much more…forever! *Go ahead and look into the book of Revelation to see that one day every nation, tribe & tongue; every king, power or ruler; every single soul will ALL bow down before Him and proclaim that Jesus Christ is LORD!

HE LIVES. He died so that I might live. So I died (to myself and sin) and now live for His glory .   

🎼 Just like the Gaither song, I too proclaim: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, life is worth the living… just because He lives!” 🎶

I know this, because I know Him and am getting to know Him more everyday for all eternity. This learning about God is not only for myself, but for sharing with others. My knowledge has an outlet for usage…my 5 E’s = exalting, equipping, edifying, examining and evangelizing. 

Knowledge, like Gold, is not valued because it is held in some vault as a possession. It effects no changeq or lasting purpose in such a state. Rather it its preciousness and its real value is only realized as it is shared with others.

“Thus says the LORD: “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD” -Jeremiah 9:23-24

True, there are many things that I don’t know and still more I may never know. However, this is one thing that I do know and drives me forward…the most important thing that I can know is that all of us need to tell of, hear and heed the ways of our Creator. His ways are far above our understanding, yet He has made a simple way for us to be able to come to Him as Abba Father and actually know Him more.

So, what do you know? How do you know that you know? Are you so excited by what you know (and Who God is) that you can’t help but share the Good News?

Foreign Accent Syndrome: Important Steps Forward

Yesterday was a GREAT DAY for those of us who suffer from Foreign Accent Syndrome, the people that love them, the medical community and the population in general. Yesterday, September 3, 2013 was the long-awaited day of the airing of a documentary on Foreign Accent Syndrome that involved two of my best Foreign Accent Syndrome friends! It aired on BBC-One TV in the late evening in the World Time Zone 0 (England). Although it was available to be viewed on the BBC viewer in a few other countries, the United States was not one of them. 🙁

However, I was monitoring Twitter while my mates across the “Big Pond” were watching the documentary. Twitter was alive with postings about people hearing of Foreign Accent Syndrome for the first time. YES!! Praise the Lord! That is one of my dreams for a better world: people actually learn of something new to them so that they can show compassion in new ways. AND especially  for those  people with foreign accent syndrome (hereafter abbreviated PWFAS): when they see it being broadcast around the world in a professionally executed documentary, they suddenly realize they are not alone.

I learned today that BBC Documentary (God bless them) placed a full version of the documentary on YouTube — I will place a link at the end of this post.

I was so  excited the night before when I watched a video of a teaser clip from the documentary. I saw and heard my friends Sarah Colwill and Kay Russell both from different parts of England meeting up in a shop and talking a bit about some of the hassles  PWFAS endure every day.

First, let me tell you that Kay and Sarah are THE first two people I met on the internet who also have FAS. Therefore, these two ladies are very dear to my heart. I developed Foreign Accent Syndrome on May 11, 2009. I had enough medical experience to recognize what was happening was definitely NOT normal. Part of what I like to do to always keep learning and the web is a great instrument in not only learning facts, but also in connecting and networking. In fact I first connected with Sarah and Kay in 2010 after I saw Sarah looking like she was in a state of shock on a big national morning talkshow in the UK. The nasty remarks and cruelty they flung around, joking at her “chinese” accent, were devastating. She was on such a public viewing only ONE month after getting her FAS, yet the show had a doctor who talked intelligently to the audience about possible explanation of what was happening to her. I thought back to my journey with FAS at only one month in: “MAYBE this will just go away” and “it started suddenly, maybe one day I’ll just wake up and it will be over”. And as one month turned to two, the half year anniversary (we call them FAS-birthdays), then 1 year, then 2 . . . “nope; I seem to be stuck here.”

Instead of getting mired down in trauma of being so drastically altered as to speak as if I were a foreigner and the many different ways that people interact with me as a result; I was emboldened through growth in my faith in God with compassion to stand up for the misunderstood, seek out the hurting and ofter comfort and understanding however I can.  At my core is this >>> Truth matters! How people treat other people, especially suffering people, matters! Doctors, so-called “friends” and even family who don’t know how to diagnose it, show compassion or just brush someone off are not good caretakers. People with Foreign Accent Syndrome may sound drastically different, but we are still the same people deep inside. How would YOU feel if it were YOU? It could be, you know, because there were no warning signs given to any of us… just BAM! “this is your new voice”. YIKES!

HOW WHOULD YOU FEEL?

How would you feel when your best friend calls you on the phone and then says “Oh, sorry; wrong number” and directly hangs up on you? Of course they call you back seconds later? HOW would YOU explain it?  And what about the numerous times people raise an eyebrow at you as a “foreigner” or say “why don’t you go back to your homeland or learn to speak properly. They flat out call you stupid! They accuse you of such things as being lazy: “you could fix it if you wanted to.” There’s that horrible moment when someone you know well stands there with slack jaws after they’ve heard you speak in your “new” voice. They can’t figure out why you are talking that way. Is she in a play, been visiting or living abroad? It really is sad when total strangers treat you better (because they just assume you are a foreigner) than people who have known you for years (they just can’t believe their ears).  It is DRASTIC and LIFE-ALTERING!!

SUPPORT & UNDERSTANDING: DOWN WITH IGNORANCE & FEAR

I  realized that the primary reason so much of this was happening (misunderstanding, poor treatment of legitimate sufferers, and proliferation of MISinformation about FAS) was because of IGNORANCE and FEAR!  Well, knowledge and wisdom is the cure for ignorance and “perfect love casts out fear” (from the Holy Bible). So my passion was flamed way back in 2010. I started friending anyone I could find who also had FAS. Since then I started the Foreign Accent Syndrome Awareness FaceBook group where anyone can learn more about FAS and are invited to join the group to legitimately and respectfully ask questions, give opinions or experiences with FAS. Here is the link.

There is also a private group with PWFAS from around the world. There are now over sixty people there, with a majority of them sufferers or a supporter on behalf of another. The group is PRIVATE because it allows a safe place for those of us sufferers to “let our guard down” and be real without fear of injury. These two places and Twitter as well as various leads from other people have helped my FAS-Family meet and help others. Now THAT is rewarding! It gives great purpose to my suffering when I hear a new sufferer break down in tears to hear my voice across the phone or Skype because they can hear me validate them and help them feel that they are not alone. Similarly in my various writings on the web, I can die happy knowing that I am doing my best to stand up for the lowly, help educate the educators through my experiences. What makes a “specialist” a specialist! Sure, book knowledge and background knowledge help, but is it not time of actually experiencing things, living it, breathing it and learning from it what helps make a person a true “specialist”.

One of the things that I enjoy about Professor Nick Miller is that he actually involves the PWFAS in the research process while at the same time sharing his ever increasing knowledge with them to help them better manage their lives. It is a dream of mine to be able to be in partnership with his kind. However, he is in England and I in the United States where it seems to be much harder to locate people who want to research such a rare disorder.

Since the invention of the world wide web I have been so blessed . . . I can get up to the minute information. Like a good discount store, there is trash in the pile of bargains of information… but… if you know where to look and HOW to look there are great gems scattered everywhere. So I guess you’d say I am a research treasure hunter when it comes to useful information. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together when I do research; a piece here, a piece there and soon I have an assembly of information that is quite helpful in finding similarities and patterns or possible causes or treatments. Of course, it is important to use reputable sources, but I highly value the personal experiences of not only the doctors who have book knowledge, but especially seek out “experiential” knowledge. Society as a whole places great value on a doctor’s opinion (as should be), however, the best doctors are those who admit they don’t know but will work WITH the patient to learn TOGETHER!!!

Cutting edge technologies have greatly enhanced my understanding of a variety of topics. However, this topic, Foreign Accent Syndrome is not just a curiosity; it is MY LIFE! I am on a mission to use my own experiences plus all that I continue to learn to help comfort, build-up, encourage, and educate others. Whether they be a sufferer, a family member, a doctor or a student, a seeker or a skeptic — whatever. We all have different ways of dealing with the bizarre and unknown. However, to those who inundate the web with MISinformation or scoff at those brave enough to step out into the public eye, I say “shame on you”. That is nothing short of cruelty! They prove themselves fools who speak without knowledge or refute what they do not understand.

WHAT IS FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME?

It is rare (less than 100 medically reported/documented cases in the WORLD… EVER! The altered speech is perceived by others as being foreign; sounding like the person had come from a different country or part of the country in which the language or dialect is of a different flavor. It does not mean that the person suddenly can fluently speak or understand a foreign language, only that the sufferer “sounds” as if they are foreign due to prosody, inflections, accent, and other aspects of speech production. The sufferers themselves may or may not “hear” the difference in their own head enough to help with speech therapy. A person’s speech is altered drastically after some kind of injury to the brain (stroke, past concussion, migraine, whether recent or in the distant past, or maybe for some yet unknown reason. The damage may not be seen via traditional scans such as CT, MRI, EEGs or Xrays, Yet there have been more detailed viewings via Difusion-Tensor MRI (DTMRI) or Functional MRI’s (fMRI) HAVE shown damage at the nerve level that did not show up on the more frequently utilized brain imaging techniques. However, since these machines are so very expensive there are not many places that perform the scans and insurance doesn’t cover their use. Oh, and one more thing, many people on Twitter proliferate the falsehood that Foreign Accent Syndrome is a Psychological or Mental disorder. The truth is that FAS is a “neurological” disorder. This is a very important thing to correct if you see it. I have written to the writers of the articles that falsely stated this, but no retractions or corrections were made to my knowledge so the MISinformation continues. It’s up to those of us who care for truth to correct when we see it in order to promote true understanding.

PURPOSE

I have a PURPOSE in having such a rare thing as Foreign Accent Syndrome. Namely: I must tell everyone, Foreign Accent Syndrome IS REAL!

Being such a rare thing means that more people haven’t heard of it than have. And that includes “specialists” such as neurologists, hospital ER staff, family doctors, psychologists, clergy, college professors, etc. ###You can quote me on this: “Just because you have never heard of something before or can’t see it or have no experience with it, does NOT mean it doesn’t exist!!” Every inventor, great scientist, and the wisest of students and educators as well as cutting edge researchers have learned: the greatest thing about “knowing” something is to realize we can’t ever know it all!

Given my background, my talents, and my years with this rare disorder, I am always increasing in understanding more and more about it. I believe that my passion has always been communication, artistic and interpersonal: caretaking people or animals, science, especially physiological and  behavior, God-loving, nature-admiring, art, poetry, music, photography, film, — all of that.  I have learned how to use all of these skills in the New Media I now see how God allows me to use all of that to help others and it is humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

WHAT NOW?

I would like to encourage you to read more on my site here about Foreign Accent Syndrome? I am going to go forward with creating a site specifically for Foreign Accent Syndrome that can act as an aggregate depository and interactive location for anyone around the world, but in the meantime you can just type FAS in the search box above and see several postings specific to reports of living with it, thoughts, experiences, etc. as well as links to other media. I would really like to work with scientific research and especially as the field of neuroscience is growing. I am encouraged by our U.S. President Obama’s announcement this year of “The Brain Project” in which the government is encouraging more study in the area of brain function and dysfunction. I do hope to be included in a reputable research program and especially have them to view me with fMRI to see how my brain functions when talking versus singing. (I am able to sing in my normal voice).  It is invigorating to connect with other people who are passionate about helping others. I pray that God will grant you the joy of knowing you are unique, no other person can be you as well as you!

Love others as you wish to be loved. Correct lies. Promote truth and compassion. Enjoy living in whatever your circumstances with the sense of purpose. It is a great way to live!

PLEASE DO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW… it really helps me to know what others think about what I write here. And if there is anything I can do to help you along your journey, just ask. All legitimate inquiries will be answered.

Finally, here is the link to the GREAT Documentary on Foreign Accent Syndrome that just came out called The Woman Who Woke Up Japanese: