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Why Maps Are Not Necessarily A Good Thing (Or - Please Don't Box Me In)
Every so often I end up reading books and blog posts on subjects which – to most of the general population – are not remotely connected and I can still come up with a connection between them which is not necessarily apparent.

A recent case in point is my recent reading material – a book on Policing by John Sutherland, a book on Geography by Tim Marshall, and a blog on Mental Health law by Michael Brown.

On the face of the list above you might not see much of a connection.  When I tell you that “Blue” (the book written by John Sutherland) and “Mental Health Cop” (the blog written by Michael Brown) are both written by serving Police Officers, you might start seeing a connection.  If I tell you that the above-mentioned book and blog both touch on Policing and Mental Health (from very different angles) you might see more of a connection.

But what has a book about Geography got in common with both of them???  Well, the title of Tim Marshall's book “Prisoners of Geography:  Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics” does mention both Prisoners and Politics.  So that might be the connection???

Sorry – it is a connection but not the one I immediately found.  I suppose you would have to (a) read Tim Marshall's book, and/or (b) learn how to think sideways.  (You have certainly come to the right blog for lessons in option (b), haven't you?).

The word that jumped out at me from the title of Tim Marshall's book wasn't “Prisoners” or “Politics” but “Maps”.

Not only do maps show you routes from A to B but the really good ones show you all the obstacles you may face (if you want to know a very interesting fact about India and China and why they have never invaded each other – read “Prisoners of Geography”).

John Sutherland's book reads like a map of his career in Policing (and his battle with Mental Health difficulties), Michael Brown's blog reads like an attempt at explaining the “maps” involved in deciding what course of action should be taken by which group of people when it comes to suspects with suspected Mental Health issues (as well as those dealing with such people).

Not only can maps be useful but they can also become a hindrance if you don't know how to read one, you start off heading in the wrong direction, or you follow the map as rigidly as some people follow their SatNav.

I think I might know what is going through your mind now.  But Inky – laws are there to be followed and you will end up in serious trouble if you don't obey them.

That is true – in more ways than one.  However, there are also laws that contain so many loopholes they are not much use anyway.  Also, there are situations which are not actually covered by laws (usually because nobody has dreamt up a law to cover a situation which has never arisen before).

Here is a thought – what would happen if we made maps of people instead of geographical occurrences???  As in – what would happen if we made maps of people's abilities, needs, desires, etc???

I know I am in danger of straying into territory best suited to humans with some kind of qualification in Psychology, Psychiatry, or General Medicine here (and anybody with those qualifications can feel free to argue with what I am about to say next) but I have been thinking about this quite a bit - even before my current escapade started.

People seem to have some wonderful ideas about me (and I am not exactly using “wonderful” in its usual happy sense).  They either seem to try to put barriers around me or they are amazed when I seem to act like everybody else.  “Oh – poor Ineke.  She won't be able to do such and such.”.  Guess what guys – if there is something that Ineke really wants to do she will find a way of getting it done by any means within her power.  She has been known to do nearly everything you can.  Admittedly she has paid the price for it afterwards sometimes but – trust me – it was worth it.  There are certain things which cost me a little more in mental and physical energy than most people (going to a cinema, going to strange places at night, etc) but even having to psyche myself up beforehand doesn't usually stop me if I really want to do it.

On the flip side of that we get the line I am getting nauseated and fatigued by when well-meaning humans say it - “You are so brave”.  Trust me – this has been uttered in my direction more times that I can remember.  Admittedly, some of the occasions when it was used were ones when I actually felt like I had achieved a goal by doing whatever it was which prompted the comment.  Others (like me going on a train to Glasgow by myself) were not what I would call appropriate instances.

My personal background means that I am used to having to “Keep Calm And Carry On” when I don't want to.  It also means that it is second nature to pick myself up and dust myself off when I run into difficulties (and it also makes me very uncomfortable with the idea of asking for help or making a fuss when I find myself unable to do either of those for whatever reason).

There is something strange which I have noticed about myself recently.  I get more energy when I am allowed to be myself.  There are certain humans who I love spending time with for that exact reason – I can say what I want and do what I want in their presence and they don't make me feel like an Alien.  Feeling like I am being boxed in and I have to watch what I say and do just upsets me.  I may appear to be the loudest, most blunt human you have ever come across or I may appear to be the one who is the most comfortable when merged with the local scenery – they are both me.  In my “natural” state I am actually very quiet and prefer either my own company or just being with a very small group of humans who I trust.

I want to finish with something which amused me on Twitter.  One of the Twittercops I follow decided to do a survey about whether or not people should stereotype others.  As I said in my Direct Message to the Twittercop - “Good grief – anybody who tries to put me in a stereotype box soon finds out I am unique”.

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