Friendship, filters and fireworks

What a rough day.  My best friend needed some surgery and I agreed to pick him up from the hospital, take him home and stick around until he was able to get around on his own.  I was to wait for his call once he cleared the recovery room.

But when he did call, it was to say he had to stay overnight.  There had been some complications and he was waiting to be admitted.  Could I pick him up tomorrow?

“Sure, what time?”

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Just say “no” to hate

Chef Arnold Abbott made the news for refusing to stop feeding the homeless despite multiple arrests because in Fort Lauderdale, Florida feeding the homeless is illegal.

In Florida it is the homeless that are the problem rather than the fact of people having no place to live and starving in the street. Well, Florida and like 20 other states that criminalize homelessness.

Some days I can barely muster enthusiasm to continue living in a world so devoid of compassion. They say autistic people have no empathy but when I read how the law is perverted to inflict emotional, economic and physical harm on people – in the name of religion, no less! – I feel their hopelessness so deep within my heart and so profoundly that I come close to giving up on ever making a dent in the encroaching culture of hate.

But I have raised to kids who are smart, compassionate and kind, and I stick around because the difference I make through them ripples forward through time. And for my family and the people I meet through my work because I’m able to make the world a bit better for them and through them. And to stave off the worst of the hopelessness, I commit random acts of kindness by donating my time, money, or expertise, or just doing small kindnesses like letting someone merge into traffic while everyone else is rushing to close gaps between them and the next car.

In the greater scheme of things, my contribution of kindness and compassion to the world is a lone drop in a sea of hate and I have no illusions that it turns the tide. But the tide turns only through collective action of millions of us lone drops acting individually and impacting collectively. We can refuse to let our elected representatives inflict harm on others in our name without protest and we can directly intervene in ways large and small, relentlessly, tirelessly, with hope, compassion and in the faith that enough others are doing the same to collectively make a difference even if we don’t see the effects immediately.

If you have not already, will you join me as a kindness ambassador?

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Dealing with depression

I spend a lot of online time in communities of autistic people and, this being the holiday season, lately there have been a few people in crisis posting to the forums.  As an Aspergian I always hesitate to respond to someone depressed because…well, we’re known for being socially inappropriate, right? Every time we open our mouth, a friendship is on the line and that’s tough enough. But when it is someone’s mental state or their life on the line, the stakes are a bit higher and I become paralyzed with fear that I’ll say the wrong thing and make the situation worse.

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Michael asks: What brings you happiness in your life?

Well, it isn’t the number 42.  In the end it turns out, at least for me, to be what they always say it is – do what you love, in service to others.

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Killing autistic people A-OK with Facebook

Last night I posted a request to autistic friends and allies to report a Facebook page called “Exterminate all Autistics.”  Many did and by the next morning the page had been removed.  But earlier in the evening, one friend received the following email from Facebook:

We reviewed your report of Exterminate all Autistics. Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the Page you reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found it doesn’t violate our Community Standards.

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Obesity, disability are not capital offenses

This is unbelievable.  The AP story as published here by ABC News begins with these words:

“Eric Garner was overweight and in poor health. He was a nuisance to shop owners who complained about him selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. When police came to arrest him, he resisted. And if he could repeatedly say, “I can’t breathe,” it means he could breathe.”

If we are going to give cops a free pass to kill people, let’s just say so.  Or if we are going bury their offenses in bullshit, can we at least try to be convincing?  Because the state of someone’s health or disability is supposed to be a factor that influences a person’s treatment at the hands of the police to help ensure their safe and fair treatment, not a factor contributing to or justifying their death at the hands of the police.  Disability is not a crime.

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When does intervention cross the line from helpful to harmful?

As most of you know, I’ve been asking people to boycott Autism Speaks and their major sponsors such as Home Depot and Toys ‘R’ Us.  But I want to know in such matters that I’m making the right stand. As a rule I try to always entertain the possibility that I’m wrong and listen to opposing views with an open mind. But on something like this I feel I need to do a bit more due diligence so in my spare time I’ve been reading through the Autism Speaks web site and materials. Tonight I downloaded a couple of their toolkits.  Sadly, I found nothing to dispel my negative views of that organization. To the contrary, the “toolkits” reveal the extent to which the organization’s bias is ingrained.  After reading, I’m even more concerned for the welfare of autistics under their treatment than I was before.

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