Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Differed From

I don't set out to be eccentric or different.  In general, I just do what seems to me to be the sensible thing and then it turns out that other people think it's strange.  This is really how it seems to me.  It's not pretence.  In fact, methinks people act oddly and inexplicably, often when they don't do what I do. I imagine everyone gets this but not everyone goes on about it.  Maybe not.  Anyway, it's a common strategy of mine to see what I or we do as, to choose a meaningless epithet, "normal" and other things as deviant.  Here are a few examples, some of which might include some of you.

Home education:  Virtually everyone home educates, it's just that most parents also send their children to school.  Look at it this way, and incidentally I may be very out of date as obviously the children God lent me never went to school so I don't know exactly how things are nowadays:  I spent two hundred days a year at school and five hours a day in lessons, and at the time there were ten years of compulsory education, so that's ten thousand hours in lessons in compulsory education out of 157788.  That's less than 7% of my childhood.  In other words, more than 93% of my childhood was not spent in lessons.  Moreover, almost everything we learn is learnt out of school, for instance the ability to communicate in our first languages, walk, use the toilet and so forth.  Furthermore, almost all parents start off by home educating.  Beyond that, hardly any children went to school for almost the whole of human history and even today, many children never go to school, although there are often less positive reasons for that.

Quick coda:  home education does not take place at home, but everywhere and it doesn't stop when we reach adulthood.

Veganism:  Also seen as an extreme position.  Look at it more closely though.  Anglo-Saxons who eat meat generally eat maybe eleven species of animal and their products on a regular basis:  chicken, those nameless big quadrupeds whose milk people often drink, sheep, pigs, cod, salmon, tuna, turkey, shrimp, prawn and lobster.  Maybe at a stretch they might eat winkles, oysters, cockles, eels, partridge and so on.  This is a depressing list to me.  However, they consume many more species of non-animal than animal:  yeast, wheat, sweetcorn, rice, lettuce, cucumber, Brassica, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, sugar cane, grapes, basil, tea, peppermint, onions, mushrooms, hops, barley, peanuts - the list is endless but easy to compile and much longer than the list of animals.  In other words, everyone, counted in the right way, has an  almost vegan diet.  They generally only have to give up a few things and their diet would be vegan.

Quick coda:  veganism is not about diet.  However, here again the issue of it being almost normal come up:  most animals we have the most conscious contact are human, so most of the time being vegan just involves being nice to other humans.

Herbalism:  One thing I'm not going to say is that old lie about most "orthodox" medication originating from plants.  It doesn't.  It's less than 50% and many of the compounds used are heavily modified until they bear little resemblance to the originals.  Others have just never been anywhere near a plant at all, for instance cisplatin.  Others again are of animal origin, such as thyroxin.  They are also often synthesised anyway.

Even so, herbalism is mainstream medicine, in context, not alternative medicine.  85% of the human race uses herbal remedies.  Many of them never use any other kind of medication.  Also, like schooling, so-called orthodox medication is a recent phenomenon, even more so for the poor, and over almost all of human history it was the main or only option.  Also, considering that coffee and tea are pharmacologically active plants, as are tobacco, peppermint, eucalyptus and all the rest of the stuff we all use on a general basis, it's still the main option.

And yeah, trans stuff:  This one is a bit different, but of course I'm chucking it in again.  It works in various ways.  It is true that I'm engaging in abnormal behaviour, but this is mainly because I'm doing it at the age of forty-seven rather than thirteen.  I'm not going to go on, but just say this:  most of someone's identity is not to do with their gender.  I'm English, was born in Canterbury, vegan, a Prefab Sprout fan, like garlic mushrooms, have an A-level in RE, I'm a philosopher, a herbalist - there are all sorts of things about me with tenuous or non-existent links to my gender identity.  Looking at it in another way, I don't behave abnormally.  I've always sat down to do you-know-what, had long hair and the way I dress is entirely unremarkable for most of the population.  It strikes me that in general, like so many other things, I just do what comes naturally and for some reason people think it's often strange that the person doing it tends to be seen as a bloke, or I do stuff which seems normal for me to do and consistently end up finding myself surrounded by women.  For instance, 90% of herbalists are female, the most involved home educating parents are mothers, most people who play hockey at school and do RE A-level are girls, and so on. I go on about it too much, of course, but it's another example of how I'm just normal.

So I'm normal and what I do is normal.  I realise the word is meaningless and controversial but it's true.  Herbalism is normal, home ed is normal, veganism is normal, being female is normal.  It's all normal.  Nothing I do is really that odd, and if you're included in any of these things, none of you are abnormal in that respect either.  Of course, none of us is really normal, but I'm no different in that respect either.  I'm not different, I'm differed from.