My greatest hope is that the discourse on this blog and its accompanying Facebook page can serve as examples of environments in which compassion, understanding and mutual respect are paramount.
That said, I publish nearly all comments, but there are rare exceptions.
I have long been frustrated and deeply saddened by the chasms in the autism community. I will not allow Diary’s comment section to become a megaphone for the anger that serves to keep us divided.
I will not abide personal attacks, either on me or my readers. While I actively welcome constructive disagreement and respectful discourse, this is not a forum for unproductive anger, particularly that which is directed at one another.
While I am happy to respect anonymity, please note that I also do not publish comments without a name (or consistent pseudonym) and a valid e-mail address.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you – not just for sharing in our family’s journey, but for joining the conversation. And in so doing, respecting each other, supporting one another, and finding ways to bridge the space between us.
~ Diary’s long-standing comment policy
I received a comment on yesterday’s post that quite forcefully implied that I should shun TPGA because they are divisive. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to publish the comment because it was framed as a pointed personal attack from an anonymous commenter using a fake e-mail address and, as you can see above, I’ve been very clear that those (at least when I can catch them) will not see the light of day on Diary.
But despite its delivery, I think the question implied within it warrants an answer. Because it comes up in a lot in different contexts and in regard to many of the various people and organizations with whom I engage. So maybe it needs to be said out loud.
Why don’t I walk away from people in this community who are – or are at least perceived to be – divisive?
This is why –
(Ed note: Just to be clear, the following is meant to be general and is in no way, shape nor form reflective of my feelings toward Shannon or Rachel. Moving on .. )
Because if I do, then I’ve allowed them to divide ME. I’ve given them the power to categorize me, to put me in a box with whatever label fits NOT THEM. And I’m not willing to get into that box, nor any other.
Because if I walk away the dialogue stops.
Because if I walk away then I no longer have a voice in molding how things happen within an entire segment – the now NOT ME segment – of the community.
Because if I walk away then I’ve stopped listening.
Because I can retreat to safety and talk all day with people who share my views and therefore always think I’m right. But as delightful as a chorus of Amens may be, they will never force me to examine my thinking, deconstruct my own prejudices and grow, evolve and change in the way that my girl needs me to.
Because if I walk away then I have given up the right to ask anyone else to examine THEIR thinking – deconstruct THEIR prejudices and grow, evolve and change in the way that my girl needs THEM to.
I have changed dramatically since starting this journey nearly six years ago. I don’t doubt that I will be able to say six years hence that I’ve changed even more. I sure as hell hope I can.
Individuals evolve. Hearts open. Organizations evolve. Perspectives change. Advocacy evolves. We move forward. Society evolves. It has to.
Nothing will open, change, move or evolve if we walk away from each other. No matter how divisive you may believe someone is, no matter how wrong-headed you find an organization to be, I challenge you to engage them anyway.
If you don’t, if I don’t, NOTHING will change. And the ones who will lose the most aren’t going to be US or THEM – it’s going to be our children.
So say what you will, my dears, but I will continue to talk with and work with those who you may find unpalatable. Hell, I’ll even continue to work with those who (whom? I’m never sure) I find unpalatable. Because when I stop engaging in conversation with ANYONE, I’ve failed. And I may be able to live with failing myself, but I refuse to fail them …