Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Critical Thinking

I had a good laugh over the weekend, as my family was driving home from a lovely weekend skiing at Lake Tahoe. I was catching up on blog reading on my nifty iPhone, finally able to devote an hour or two to things other than chasing after my children, thinking about reunion, cleaning out the garage to house Mark's new prize possession, and other humble pursuits.

The whole Dr. Kimberly Leighton exchange still bothers me; I find it vaguely irritating that an academic should be 1. an adoptee but so little devoted to thinking critically about what adoptees have or don't have, in terms of rights and 2. so thoughtless in terms of her contribution to a national discussion about DNA and searching. ("Wow, adoptees should be careful not to rock the boat. People could get hurt, and adoptees must be made aware of this." DUHHHHH.)

I wrote a post about why I felt annoyed by Leighton a while ago, and another blogger wrote a post in support of Dr. Leighton. Fine. But then another person commented as Anon on that person's blog, and apparently one pack of dogs thought it was *I* who had written the comment and tried to go to take their pound of flesh, only it wasn't *I*. I had to chuckle in the car and share with my husband and my two mothers, who all found it very humorous, as well.

Apparently whoever commented sounded like me and agreed with me, so I toast that person. But the people who then tried to shred that argument, and mine, were rather pitiful. I had brought up, in my post, a whole thread of discussion, saying that Leighton should have been taking the industry to task for promulgating lies, rather than adoptees (naughty Pandoras!) who want to search. Someone said that Leighton had never mentioned CIs. Wow! Bully for you for noticing that! That was in *my* argument, and you took one teeny part of it out of context without looking at the whole of it, rather like Leighton's misunderstanding the entire tone of the reference of Pandora's Box.

Both of my mothers, when I mentioned the myth of Pandora's Box, immediately said, "Wow, that's a rather harsh judgment to make of an adoptee." Because they understand the myth and what it means. It's not about oopsies and unintended consequences. It's about a woman willfully disobeying a command, carried away by curiosity (the issue of Hope is a nice add-on, but isn't the main thrust of the problem here). Pandora's Box a very, very misogynistic myth. It's about how a woman didn't *think* at all, who went against what Zeus said to fulfill her own desires and unleashed havoc and strife on humankind--evil is actually the wrong word, carrying medieval, Christian overtones. If Dr. Leighton didn't intend to make this connection, or carry across this meaning, then she was careless, and it doesn't say much about her intellectual grooming. We all make mistakes, and perhaps given another chance, she would choose another metaphor. I will send her an e-mail and ask her to clarify what she meant.

But back to intellectual grooming and silver spoons. The reference to an "Ivy League" school, and getting in on merit, rather than being a legacy was also funny. I am an adoptee. What kind of legacy would I be? Do you really think that my aparents went to the Ivy League? I went to a Seven Sisters college, and I earned my way there by merit. I studied and worked my intellectual ass off, from preschool on. If I'd been a legacy, I would have gone to Mankato State University! In my first family, I would have had more chance of being a legacy. My grandfather and mother went to the same prestigious private college, but I wasn't raised in that family. How you all crack me up.

My brother and I are both smart because we use our brains and have good critical thinking skills. He is well respected in his field of medicine because he reads widely, is a perfectionist, and doesn't tolerate half-thought-through bullshit (at least at work, can't resist that one, ha). As part of my academic training, I have been trained and whipped and scolded and taught not to be a lazy thinker, a la some of you and Dr. Leighton, and when I see people with letters behind their name, I am not necessarily impressed. The institution matters, as does how a person presents himself or herself. Some institutions hand out Ph.D.'s like candy, which is not something to be proud of. As Joy has said, degrees are not proof of anything, but academics like Leighton trade on their degrees, so her credentials are definitely fair game. If Leighton doesn't know her Greek mythology, she shouldn't reference it. Why argue about what she must have meant? You don't know.

And the silver spoon in my mouth? I was raised in a lower middle-class neighborhood in the Midwest. You make me laugh. I did live in Europe and have a horse and other fun things, and yes, I now move in different social circles where I am more comfortable, but that's thanks to my aparents who taught me to have great manners, and my first family, who blessed me with a fantastic temperament and great intellectual capacity. I have earned everything.

Although both of my mothers advised me not to bother to write this post, that it was a waste of my time, I had to write about being considered a spoiled "legacy" when I am adopted! It's too hilarious. I am damned either way. I couldn't have achieved what I did because I am smart and deserved it. No. Not possible. I can't be who I am because of myself.

My aunt, when I was visiting a few weeks back, made a great comment: "C gave you life, and your parents gave you the life you have." I am fortunate to have two such wonderful families, both of whom love me. That's what counts, and I am thankful, also, for my critical thinking abilities, which I honed on my own.

I would rather see all the world, in its horrifying darkness, than be limited and scared to see anything at all. Why bother?

I don't even consider myself to be all that smart. If you want to read a blog by someone truly brilliant, try this. Don't fuck with her.

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