Theorem of Compassion

The old trope that autistic people are so withdrawn that they cannot connect to the world, and thus they are inherently selfish and disconnected from people … they cannot empathize with people … therefore, in human context …

We’re not human.

Empathy is a socio-political tool.  It’s used to gain perspectives and viewpoints.  Accusing someone for not having empathy is also a tool.  It’s used to continue the schism of us/them, as well as to put oneself on a pedestal of pity and feed a victim complex.

“How can you be so obtuse?  Can you understand where I am coming from?  The suffering and the pain I am in?”

How many times have we heard this?  How many times have we been accused by our peers and by our friends that we lack empathy and emotion during times of emotional distress and pain?  As we sit quietly by, our eyes trying to access the information that we have been given.

Juxtaposed are our NT friends looking ashamed at us as we struggle in a sea of sensory information. Screaming in pain and/or doing anything to combat the input that we cannot process.  They avert their eyes or accuse us of embarrassing them.  We however don’t point fingers and shout that they lack empathy. Instead. we apologize for being autistic.

Changeling culture has giving us a schism of typical and atypical, in which all those that are neurologically atypical are always at fault.  It is normal for typical to look upon the atypical with disdain and to lack the empathy necessary to understand the footsteps and journey we take as disabled people.  So we’ve grown apologetic for our nature as disabled.  Being overly-apologetic is normal for an autistic person.  What parent hasn’t heard their son or daughter on the spectrum constantly apologize for everything.  We don’t apologize for an action but for being who we are.  Changeling culture has viewed us as mistakes, problems, unwanted. So we apologize for being mistakes in our families.

While we nurse a rather large victim complex, autists need to step back and stop saying sorry for being human.  It’s time to look at what is empathy and what is compassion; NTs and autists alike have seemed to mix those definitions up.  As I stated in another essay about Theory of Mind, every human lacks empathy.  A hetronormative male will not understand the feeling of being gay to their homosexual peer.  A very rich American can’t understand what it’s like to really go hungry or what it’s like to be surrounded by rubble like their Haitian counterparts.  Typicals like to pretend that they do, until someone calls them on their privilege. In all, no human being can be a mindreader; if we can be, why do we still have sexism, classism and racism?

However an autist and a typical both have compassion.  Yet they show it in different ways.  A little girl has lost their dog.  A typical person would hug and use physical affection and soothing words to comfort the child. An autist would find a photo of the dog and make flyers to post all over the neighborhood.  An autist is practical whilst a NT is more emotive.  However it wasn’t prayers and pleading wishes to deities that helped the people of Haiti or the ravaged New Orleansians; it was hard work and real practical compassion.

An autist may lack the understanding of someone looking for their beloved dog, might even suggest that the odds of finding the dog are slim and that it’s better for them to look for another dog at a shelter.  An autist would even accuse the poor man of being irresponsible to not properly put a collar on the dog or microchip it.

Still …

It will not stop him from getting the flyers.

Theorem of Compassion originally appeared at Prism*Song, and is republished here by permission of the author.

on 06/28/10 in featured, Society | No Comments | Read More

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