A Failure to See

We set up divides, barriers, eager to seek the boundaries that create commonalities so that we know where we stand at all times with one another. We each have our own deal breakers, things which cross our boundaries and for which we simply cannot allow our companions to partake in, believe in.

Our boundaries constantly shift, though, depending on what particular thing holds the utmost importance to us at a given time. We often fail to see people in their totality, to value them for who they are, regardless of who they are to us.

In the online autism community, we face these divides constantly, and we push those boundaries, watching them snap back at us, till we find ourselves suddenly on the other side, looking in instead of looking out. It's an odd thing, especially given the unique qualities that we, as parents and individuals on the spectrum, bring to the table. Even the most neurotypical of parents and siblings tend to display certain characteristics; some of us more so than others.

We're quirky, eccentric, interesting individuals, all of us, with our own baggage, and we often find ourselves in the middle of miscommunications that leave us befuddled and upset. Too much drama, too many spoons used trying to sort it all out, too much period.

I don't think there's a fix to the many divides, the shifting boundaries, the rotating allegiances, other than to stop and focus on the big picture, which can be hard to do when we're hyperfocused on the details.

We're so ready to cast stones, to see the other as the enemy that we often fail to notice the things we share. Sometimes it's important to stop, to see, to acknowledge.

Julie Obradovic writes

"Your children are in there. They see you. They feel you. And they need you, especially you, to see and feel them. Be responsible for the energy you bring to them. Make sure they know you feel more for them than just the pain and anxiety you feel deep in your heart. Make new memories. Good ones. Ones that have absolutely nothing to do with Autism. Treat them like a child as much as possible, not just a medical case. It's easy for them to get lost yet again in all of this. Don't let that happen.Whether your child ever recovers from Autism or not...and I pray with all my might for you that they do...they will only be this little once. They are children. Stop. Sit with them. Play with them. Enjoy them as they are, as hard as that may be for some of you. You must choose to make new memories.
There's so much more to our children than the Autism. And that's at least one thing I agree we need to celebrate."

Enjoy them as they are. Those are words of wisdom, and failing to see that, to honor people, to acknowledge them, well, that's just another way of cutting ourselves off from our fellow man.

Joseph Campbell wisely notes,

"People are afraid to move into the free fall of a totally new way of looking at others. So the new mythology to come must be a global mythology, and it's got to solve the problem of the in-group by showing that there's no out-group. We're all members of a society of the planet, not of one particular place, and the fact that the three main religions of the Western world-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-can't live together in Beruit is a refutation of all three in terms of their value for the contemporary world. They're monstrous! We must begin to realize that each is saying in his own language what the other is trying to say in his. There must be brotherhood and cooperation. Because unless that comes, we're going to blow ourselves to smithereens.
Every single one of the old horizon-bound mythologies reserved love for the in-group, and aggression and denigration were reserved for the out-group. Now, something's got to break that. And when we see that picture of our planet taken from the moon, the question arises: What are we going to do with our aggression? How is it going to be absorbed into love and transmuted from gross matter to gold? I think teaching "I-thou" relationships, rather than the "I-it" relationships, which [theologian Martin] Buber spoke about, is the first step. The teaching of humanity rather than the teaching of in-group appreciations is what's important.”

Take the time. Make the effort. See the other, and in his or her eyes, see yourself reflected back, see our common humanity and reach out. Connect. Share.


melbo said...

So true - the smaller the world gets, the more we can see how alike we are. It becomes harder to demonise and exclude others when we are so closely interconnected.

I think sometimes this progression causes fear in some quarters. It might also call into question some of the beliefs that people have been hanging onto and those are never easy to relinquish. Particularly if one has based a life or a career around them. =)

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post. Between the Asperger's diagnosis and my marriage difficulties, I feel like I am constantly in freefall - trying to figure out where I fit in so many ways. I have pulled back quite a bit online because I am using too much energy in real life to worry about controversies which are sometimes (although not always) exercises in semantics.

I wrote in a recent book review elsewhere that I am looking for places in my life where I can extend mercy rather than judgment. It's a hard task but a worthwhile goal, I think, and I have been inspired in part by the journey I have watched you go on over the last year or so.

Kim Wombles said...

Absolutely, melbo.

aspergirlmaybe, thank you. It's become impossible to be so quick to anger and judgment the longer I am involved in hospice work; we're there for the families and to help them, to respect their beliefs, customs and wishes, and I think once you do that, stand for others and support unconditionally like that, it becomes not only impossible but completely undesirable to be quick to judge.