NASA’S PHOTO: PROOF OF GOD’S EXISTENCE?

NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill

NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill

What’s a hand doing in deep space?

And what’s it attached to?

Is God just a big hand?

Wait a minute.  Is that a hand at all?

The so-called “Hand of God” is the result of a combination of NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuStar, combined with Chandra X-ray Observatory’s imaging.   God (and Superman) only knows what that pulsaristic, X-ray, and magnetic energy stuff’s about.

That we humans jump quickly to proof of what we so desperately want proof of is telling.

When familiar objects are seen in otherwise vague ways, a phenomenon known as pareidolia is at work.  Examples include seeing the face of Jesus in an apple core or your neighbor’s poodle in a cloud.  When the need to believe is strong enough, we “see” what reinforces what we believe.  Those who are especially adept at recognizing and interpreting such “signs” are attributed with magical abilities that enable them to  understand the past, explain the present, and foresee the future.  They’re called shamans, therapists, or witches, and every culture has them.

Anyone who holds the hand of God is powerful indeed.

Our fervency at making a disconnected connection can be seen everywhere in our lives, not just in questions about transcendence. When we’re always looking for signs, signs are always found.  For some of us, magical thinking beats realism every time:  I’m always a bit miffed when my husband can “explain scientifically” what tingles to believe.  Like yeti or synchronicity.

A peek at the animal kingdom demonstrates how natural it is to go for  glitzy — brightly colored and smiling is more alluring than earth-toned and frowning.  If you still aren’t convinced, go to Vegas.  Shake its pockets and the likely fallout will be all manner of charms, amulets and carved stones.  If you’ve ever played anniversary or birth dates in the lotto, you’re exercising the same belief in magical power.

How powerful is it to “know”?

People have been hung or burned alive for failing to share explanations we want, figure they have, but would rather die than tell. Curiously, we never fault our dysfunctional thinking when plague continues after we’ve roasted all the cats.

Distressed couples or the chronically ill may get caught up in the myths of “other reasons”, blaming themselves or those around them for what is ultimately ours to carry, even when understanding is absent.  Better communication in marriage or the development of chronic illness are examples.

Nevertheless, many of us feel helpless when comprehension fails.  So far-reaching is our need to know that we look outside ourselves for a “magic cure”, “quick fix”, or to blame.  It’s as if we were cognitively incapable of apprehending knowledge by ourselves, alone.

Facing the Great Unknown is frightening.

We call for help that protects, soothes, and explains.

And that’s as good a reason as any to search out the Hand of God.  

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Relationship Specialist.   She’s especially keen on working with couples whose relationship includes invisible disability (e.g., cancer, lupus, hearing loss, depression).  Kathe and her husband, David, live in Colorado with their two cats, Petey and Lucy.  They know that holding the hand of god is as easy as adopting a pet.    
 
©BeingHeard LLC, 2014

ROOT FOR SOMEONE FAMOUS TO BECOME DISABLED THIS MONTH

I was just reading the Screen Actors Guild’s 2005 study of how few representations of people with disabilities were scripted into tv shows — less than .5% even had speaking roles.

Five years later, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) noted essentially the same thing. Using media to capture Americans’ attention (film, video, print, cyber) is well-suited to our short attention span and overall sense of unreality about the really real world, where visible or invisible disability can be turned off, deleted, or disregarded.  Where we communicate about disability on-line rather than in-person.

hear no evil 2 How pitiful is it when we ride on the coattails of someone famous’ disability, metaphorically pointing at our chests, crying “me, too!”?

Visible and invisible disabilities like Nelson Mandela’s cancer, Michael J. Fox’s and Linda Ronstadt’s Parkinson’s, Catherine Zeta Jones’ bipolar disorder, Ann Romney’s M.S., Glenn Campbell’s Alzheimer’s are all well-known and forgiven because they’re beautiful, charming, entertaining, or people dear to us in other ways.  “Oh, how courageous they are,” we say, “and what a shame.”  Even those of us who are disabled ourselves are sad for the afflicted-famous!   Does someone famous earn more points for being disabled?  Is it a bigger deal?  And how come we feel bad for the misfortune of people who usually have the means by which to be disabled more comfortably than we ourselves have?

I’m not looking for pity, just parity.

As in years past, President Obama again established October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  The spirit of it is lofty and disability awareness monthtouching.  But business generally runs on what’s concrete, not what’s moral.  Even more to the point, it can be expensive to hire disabled workers: accommodating to special needs isn’t cheap (widening doorways, re-designing rest rooms, installing elevators, etc.) and unless the federal government is handing out money or tax incentives to businesses, hiring the disabled isn’t good business.

Furthermore, if businesses have to be induced by other than moral means to hire this population, it’s like asking a restaurant to serve a customer gratis, just because he’s hungry.

Won’t happen, nor should it.

The fact is that the people who do the hiring are just people, members of a society that has difficulty having the disabled around in the first place.  Employers are no less prejudicial about disability than they are about age, gender, national origin, or sexual preference.

It’s perplexing that the morality play of the President’s proclamation would be presented in an economic climate like that which exists in the world today, where corporations like Siemens lay off 15,000 workers at a swipe.

I suppose none of them were disabled.bigstock-Group-of-tiny-people-walking-i-36380644 (1)

It’s insulting that the plight of the disabled worker should be highlighted when they are only part of the millions of other Americans who are hungry for work, If inclusion is sought, singling out any one portion of the population defeats the stated purpose.

The proclamation belongs in The Truman Show, where it’s always sunny, there are never problems, and life is always fair. Happily deluded.

But hey, thanks for giving the nation a heads-up that employing the disabled is the right thing to do.  I do believe that now, finally, things will change. (wink, wink)

Kathe Skinner is a Colorado-based Marriage & Family Therapist and Relationship Coach specializing in work with couples, especially those whose relationship is affected by invisible disability. She is in private practice where she can arrange her environment to meet her continually changing physical needs.  She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 35 years.

“If you have multiple sclerosis, you’re treated with respect.”

The following assertion was made by Maxine Cunningham, founder and director of Empowered Walking Enterprise/Ministries.  My response follows.
“Dignity is not a word that we often hear in connection with how we treat persons with a chronic mental illness – YES if you have cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, etc. Dignity and full personhood – that we might be whole.”

As a therapist with multiple sclerosis, and a Board member of the Invisible Disabilities Association, I can assure you that those with physical illnesses, esp hidden ones like cancer, ms, lupus, Crohn’s diseaes, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, etc., are not always treated with dignity.  There are still people who will not hug someone with cancer for fear of “catching it”.  An ms client was escorted from a grocery store after she fell into a display; the assumption was she was drunk, not that she fell because of balance problems.  Read about my own experiences with people’s assumptions, misperceptions, and misunderstandings on my blog, ilikebeingsickanddisabled.com. and in my article for the government’s site, disability.gov, http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2012/07/25/looks-can-be-deceiving/.   Mental health issues are as much a part of invisible disability as physical health issues are.  Parsing them dilutes the effectiveness of advocacy.  Without ignoring the special needs of any group under the umbrella of “disabiltiy”, it might, at some point, be worthwhile to give up the “me” in exchange for the “us”.

Kathe Skinner is a Relationship Coach specializing in coaching couples whose relationship is impacted by invisible disability.  She lives in the Front Range of Colorado with her husband of 26 years, David, and their 2 hooligan cats, Petey & Lucy.
© 2012, Kathe Skinner