Blog Directory International Observation

The Girl Who Silenced the World

**The video below is a poignant reminder of the importance of our Earth and the power of our voice..... if nothing else, please watch as this 12 year old addresses the United Nations on the state of the planet, having traveled 5,000 miles in 1992. Please share the link to this page, and her story.**

"Horton hears a Who," by Dr. Seuss, tells the story of Horton the Elephant, who, in the afternoon of May 15 while splashing in a pool located in the Jungle of Nool, hears a small speck of dust talking to him. Horton discovers that the speck of dust is actually a tiny planet, home to a microscopic community called Whoville, where the Whos reside.

Although Horton cannot see the Whos, his large ears enable him to hear them when no one else can. The Mayor, on behalf of Whoville, asks Horton to protect them from harm, which Horton happily agrees to do. Yet, in doing so he is ridiculed and reprimanded by the other animals in the jungle for believing in something that they are unable to see or hear.

"This entire jungle is a house of death!" proclaims Horton who tells the Whos that, lest they end up being boiled in "Beezelnut Oil", they need to make themselves heard to the other animals. The Whos finally accomplish this by ensuring that all members of their society play their part in creating lots of noise so they are heard by the jungle folks. But in the end it is a "very small shirker named JoJo" whose final addition to the volume creates enough lift for the jungle to hear the sound, thus reinforcing the moral of the story:  "And so, all ended well for both Horton and Who's, and for all in the jungle, even kangaroos. So let that be a lesson to one and to all; a person is a person, no matter how small"

Indeed, the story by Dr. Seuss of 'Horton Hears a Who'  is analogous to this 12-year old girl who "silenced the world" for six and one half minutes as she addressed the United Nations:

However akin to that small voice in Whoville, her 5,000 mile trek has a remarkably different twist from the victorious finale of the fairy-tale where "convinced of the Whos’ existence, Horton’s neighbors vow to help him protect the tiny community" of Whoville."

The loud voice of this tiny girl whose tale once mesmerized the United Nations in an attempt to save her planet, has once again become a whisper - reminding us of the venture of Horton where at one point he states,  "We must become invisible, travel silently, for there are forces that would seek to destroy us."

In the book, a dialogue purses where Horton argues, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant...An elephant's faithful one hundred percent...That's my code, my motto."

If only we, as a planet, could elevate our philosophy to that of this Elephant, Horton, whose brain is scientifically the size of a peanut, then our potential is exponential.

The rationalization of BEING

“Nothing includes everything or dominates over everything. The word “and” trails along after every sentence.”  
-William James (as cited by King et al., 2009).

This seems particularly appropriate in understanding the process of migration regarding Western psychological theories.  Functionalism characterized by its openness and applicability allowing psychology to be adaptive, flexible, and dynamic perhaps presents an opportunity “to maintain events in their proper dispersion (Brock, 2006, p.49)” and thus curtail the “marked discontinuity (Brock, 2006, p. 49)” that has disfigured Western psychological theory in other countries.  Although the philosophy of functionalism dates back for centuries prior to America, the notion of ‘being’ has been a predominant scheme tied to various religious and ideological beliefs around the world.  Yet, ‘trinity’ of the mind, body, and soul has been severed from modern scientific, experimental, and clinical psychology in the Western world thus creating a “discursive framework (Brock, 2006, p. 49)” for the infusion of Western psychological theory in the process of migration.

The spirit of unity correlates with the emphasis on the word “and” in William James’ quote (as cited by King et al., 2009).  While King, Viney, and Woody (2009) cite unity as being divergent from rationalism, or ‘being’, I argue that it is the rationalization of ‘being’ explained by unity of the mind, body, and soul that advances adaptation to Western psychological theories as it infiltrates the philosophies of other countries.  

Henry James emphasizes unity through humanization by means of “universal salvation (King et al., 2009, p. 270).”  Although Henry James pursued a “niche in U.S. religion and philosophy (King et al., 2009, p. 270),” his ideals of tolerance, democracy, and harmony are only attainable through congruous acculturation.  Psychology distanced from individualism postulates a consciousness based on experience, derived from social, cultural, relational, and behavioral complexities.  Through experience, we can understand cause-effect relations, motivation, rationalization, and a plethora of thought processes.  For psychology to be effective and retain value, it must be adaptive, contextual, and pluralistic.
The integration of Western psychological theories into other countries was and remains a selective process.  As scholars ventured into other countries with preconceived notions and intentions on examination of other cultures, or immersion, they ultimately introduced psychological theories that were in tune with their own Westernized interpretations and worldview.   

The introduction of Westernized psychological knowledge was either accepted or rejected based on its applicability to cultural values as well as the ability of the culture to translate theoretical principles in a manner that was culturally contextual.  If a theory was inflexible and mutually inapplicable to the culture in which it was introduced, then it would ultimately be rejected or distorted through a cultural filter so that it could function in that given society.  Early psychological theories that failed to take into account cultural relativity were therefore discarded or mutated complicating the migration process.

Internationalization is and has been occurring throughout history.  So too has philosophy and psychology migrated across borders with Western theories penetrating non-Western ideologies.  To overcome the misconstrued assimilation that results from barriers of misinterpretation, such as language/translation complications or mis-identification with cultural contexts, it is critical that psychological discourse is adaptive to the dynamics of cultural variabilities.  Incorporating the “and” which encompasses all notions of ‘being’ in order to attain a state of harmony is essential to finding commonality and avoiding filtration as cultures attempt to analyze the “transatlantic migration (Brock, 2006, p. 48)” of knowledge. 

Brock, A. (2006). Internationalizing the history of psychology.  New York, NY: New York University Press.
King, D. B., Viney, W., & Woody, W. (2009).  A history of psychology: Ideas and context. Fourth edition.  Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.