This book is the account of Mooney’s cross country trip in the kind of short school bus used to transport students with disabilities. He visited several children and adults labeled or diagnosed with various learning and developmental disabilities in order to tell their story.
Mooney himself had dyslexia and struggled throughout his life, and throughout the book, with what it means to be “normal.” He raises a number of questions and issues regarding conformity vs. nonconformity, expectations of society, and the importance of recognizing an individual’s worth by who he/she is, not merely by achievements. By the end of the book he had learned the importance of accepting himself for what he is.
The stories of families struggling with mainstreaming their children into public schools made me want to scream, “Why aren’t you home schooling?” Why is it a must to force children into cookie cutter government propaganda factories? Who wrote that rule? Let’s break it!
A favorite saying of Mooney’s is, “Normal people suck.” I couldn’t help but agree, especially when putting all of this in the context of survival. Survivalists have long been seen by “normal” people as weird, paranoid, or freakish in other ways. After all, it’s not “normal” to go against the grain of a society built on consumerism and upwardly mobile prosperity.
The survival mindset means being a nonconformist. In college I had a wall poster showing a basket of oranges with an onion on top. It was captioned, “You don’t get to the top by being like everyone else.”
In terms of survival, you don’t get through hardships by being like everyone else. In a family or survival community, survival depends on making use of each individual’s strengths, not how well each one conforms to “the norm.”
Could it be that the dramatic economic downturn is changing what we value? Will more of us challenge those long held assumptions regarding prosperity and success? Are circumstances forcing us to define a new “normal?”
I certainly hope so.