Many months ago I read an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
The article addressed how some schools were starting a program where students could speak out. They could apologize for having made the unfortunate choice of picking on others, they could stand up and say many of you don’t know, but I am the sister of the autistic girl, the one you make fun of, who is more beautiful than you know and on and on.
It was about creating a voluntary forum for students to recognize the impact of their words on the lives of others.
I know I cried by the end of this article, reading of these children, so brave when having to face a quiet, silent peer pressure, stepping out to ask forgiveness or to ask for human identity.
Why this should be a new concept is beyond me. I don’t know.
What would happen if children learned in the home, in the media, in the school from an impressionable young age, that when you make fun of and gossip about others, the harm is to themselves, they lose their own dignity? What would happen if children were taught that “character is what happens when no one is watching”?
I watched on CNN this morning a story about a brilliant young woman, who was labelled autistic. She was able to use a computer, and/or keyboard with a voice simulator to speak in “our” language.
She said on the program what I have always believed since I was young: it’s a two way street. I believe I found the direct link to her blog, if I’m wrong, feel free to drop a note: Amanda’s Blog.
The link to this fascinating and eye and soul opening blog was found on Andy Carvin’s blog.
We the non-autistic people may believe there is something “broken” in the ones with autism. As she said, if you can’t understand us, we’re broken, and if we can’t understand you, we’re broken.
In other words, the view and focus for so long has been on what is “wrong” with the autistic mind, not what is wrong with us that we have constrained ourselves into such a limited channel of intelligence and communication that we are the ones that cannot communicate on the level of “autism”.
It’s not just in the schools when even teachers ridicule children or fail to see for many school should be a safe haven, a place of growth, and a misplaced word can do such severe damage it can only be undone by disastrous consequences.
Yes, yes, we must teach our children a foundation within themselves that cannot be shaken by mere careless or hurtful words, but in the meantime, we need to check our words, our faces, our “looks” at others, until we can build the foundation within ourselves.
Watching groups of young children, I sometimes wonder, do they already have that center, that open heart, that lack of malice in judgment and in effect do we teach them to unlearn that natural love?
We can create peace daily. It can be as if a wave that washes over every moment and interaction and we can build a stronger more loving society. Forget statistics, forget whether evil is in born and who is to blame for this vs. that. If we took responsibility each moment for the thoughts we project and the consequent actions they produce, if we stopped negativity before it began…..it is anyone’s guess what enormous gains humanity would reap.