03 April 2016

There are no Rat-holes to Respectability

In my time working for the military, I have been introduced to the concept of the "rat-hole". This is a situation where a lot of time, money, and other resources are spent on something that ultimately accomplishes very little or nothing. There are rat-holes all around us and we often don't realize it until they have already stolen a lot of our precious time and money!

I'll tell you about one of the bigger rat-holes where I have wasted a lot of life: disability exemptions.

Many people know my son Matt, who was diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday. If you spend time with him, you will quickly learn that he is disabled. He doesn't have the judgment needed to live independently, to contribute as an equal partner to a marriage, or to lead a family. He was determined by experts to be disabled. A determination of disability is essential to help a person get the added help they need and to get recognition by society that such aid is justified and needed.

The resources and time spent to determine Matt's autism was not a trip down a rat-hole. Sadly, as a result, I took a personal journey to explore my own relationship with autism, which ended up being a long stroll down a very useless rat-hole. I even went so far as taking all my children to be professionally evaluated and wasting a lot of time and money on it. While Matt was obviously disabled and needed a determination of what future expectations family, friends, and society should have for him, I and my other children are not disabled and should have somewhat capable lives. We may be odd in ways similar to Matt, but that doesn't include an inability to meet the requirements of society.

Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking! What would an "autism" determination have accomplished for any of us? If some diagnosis was coming (it didn't), would we get some hoped-for special pass or government benefit? No. I think my wonderful wife tried to get me to realize this, but I wasn't listening. In my case, a diagnosis might have actually interfered with my ability to provide for our family. Can you imagine if I was suddenly prevented from operating a car or if I was required to take drugs that wrecked my work performance? My family and life could have been ruined by continuing down this silly rat-hole! In the end, it only wasted some time and money.

There are plenty of rat-holes out there, leading nowhere useful and causing far more harm than just the loss of some time and money. As an acknowledged surveyor of some rat-holes, I feel somewhat qualified to identify a few. Let me address the gargantuan rat-hole of "difference".

Everyone is different. However, those differences typically don't preclude a person from participating effectively in society. The problem comes when people think their particular difference justifies some special treatment or exemption from common responsibility. In the past, a proper term was applied to this situation - discrimination - and was soundly and rightly discredited. Whatever perceived differences you see in yourself or others, it didn't take away from everyone's responsibility to provide for themselves, overcome obstacles, to start and raise a family, and be a decent neighbor. In a word, we are all expected to become respectable members of society, differences notwithstanding.

Over the years, a growing number of people have rediscovered rat-holes of "difference" that earlier generations largely dismissed as foolishness. Many people now pursue "new" (actually age old) re-definitions of gender and sexuality that rob them of respectability as they purposefully reject family creation and responsibility. Others manufacture or "blow-out-of-proportion" perceived mental or physical illness to justify being a bad neighbor or expecting others to provide resources for them. There are now larger numbers of people who choose to live in such rat-holes; far more people than the larger society can afford to deal with.

I will tell you from experience the pursuit of such exemptions from responsibility are a complete waste of time and energy. There is nothing to be gained by examining yourself against "new" gender definitions and exploring self-absorbing sexual "preferences". I have gone down similar roads of extended navel-staring myself and it proved to be a worthless effort. Sadly, society is now redefining respectability to accommodate such things and forcing everyone to respect people who waste precious social resources. Courts and psychologists are demanding that society treat people who refuse to create families and take on adult roles as both highly respectable and totally acceptable! The shrill voices of far too many militantly childish people are forcing our entire culture down their own self-indulgent rat-holes just when we need to spend our "adult" attention and resources facing real problems.

Take it from someone who has wasted some life exploring a few rat-holes: There is no rat-hole to respectability! Put childishness aside and embrace time-honored definitions of responsibility. You will find that you accomplish far more with the same effort, enjoy far greater happiness and satisfaction, and people of true worth will honor you!