I know they meant to be nice, but it bugged me anyways. After one of my lectures here in the UK, I was chatting with someone who thanked me by saying, "thanks for helping me think outside the box". I really really don't like that expression. This morning I couldn't sleep what with the anticipation of going home tomorrow. I thought about that expression and tried to figure out why I have always reacted badly when hearing it. It didn't just grate on me, it disturbed me. And it was everywhere, I used to have to see it every morning on the way to work in Toronto - it graced a billboard with a picture of a coffin under the slogan 'think outside the box' that advertised a local cemetary. Ugh! A silly expression shouldn't have that power.
In the dark, I decided that it bothered be because I don't believe that there is a box to think outside of ... that the 'box' is just a fence that the fearful put around the ordinary. The mere idea of the 'box' is an insult to creativity, to the fanciful and the fantastic. More, I think that the 'box' has created insiders and outsiders ... that the box is the problem in the first place. I don't think outside the 'box' ... partly because I've never really been in a box to think outside of (if you followed that sentence then bless you for trying).
I think that disability, no greater than disability, that difference itself is like a genetic tsunami ... a little reminder from mother nature ... that we are not in control. I think one person with cerebral palsy simply kicks the shit out of the idea of any box ... one person with Down Syndrome takes a pair of sissors and cuts a hole in the cardboard to let the ordinary escape ... Daily, I'm asked to confront the tyranny of the 'box' of the captive ordinary.
Don't think outside the box, eliminate the box, see it all. This is not thinking big, it's thinking free.
I tremble everytime some geneticist finds another gene that will allow scientists and box builders to eliminate another other. I thank God for having the idea of difference and the belief in our capacity to experience with depth and range. I fear our desire to trim God's power using science to exorcise difference and disability ... to make only what fits in the 'box'.
Box cereal ... free people.