When I look inside myself I am constantly disappointed. I want to be a better person, so why do I fail? Surely at 51, I should be who I want to be.
I suppose I should contextualise this. I am not a bad person. I teach in secondary school and I am considered to be a fair teacher. I am not popular or cool, but I think most of my pupils view me as a kindly soul.
Outside of work I am not an axe murderer. I have a few good friends. I don’t steal, and I am as honest a man as you are ever likely to meet.
It is this honesty that is my downfall. Because it is combined with an analytical capability to finely dissect the events of the day, each day’s weaknesses are laid bare. My Aspergerian compassion is applied with its usual “could do better” assessment, so I judge myself, over and over again, as lacking.
Though I claim not to aspire to sainthood, I indulge in this mental flagellation over my inability to epitomise perfection. I have hurt myself over the years and at times, withdrawing to lick the wounds I try to keep hidden, have hurt those who tried to comfort me.
I don’t know if I can change. However this is my start. My biggest weakness is not that I don’t accept others, it is that I do not truly accept myself. If I say that out loud, perhaps it will scare me less. If I acknowledge it perhaps you will scare me less when you notice. If I am not scared perhaps I will allow you to help me.
I will never be perfect. I may never be a better person than I am now. Accepting that, however, might just make me a happier one.
Most of the time I just am. I forget the people surrounding me and I just feel and experience the sensuality of existence. My secret life is lived in full view and I am oblivious to the reactions of those around me.
Being born with a disability, I suspect I’m noticed often. My disability is not crippling or painful. It’s not even terribly noticeable. A funny walk and a limp wrist is how it manifests. It’s so easy to parody and some people are acutely cruel in their observation and mimicry.
Some people think I walk this way because I am gay. I am gay. I also have cerebral palsy. I walk this way because this is who I am.
However I only notice the reactions of others when they intrude into my world. Most of the time I live in my world. I have my few friends and my many pleasures. Not alone or cut off but perhaps at a slight remove from what others deem to be reality. In my spectrum disordered world, I am cocooned in my the beautiful landscapes of my mind. Aspergers is another gift the universe bestowed upon me.
We are all different. We are all unique. We all have intersecting facets that make us who we are. We are born different and now is the time has come to acknowledge our differences, to love our diversity, and to see the beauty of the other.
I am beautiful. You are beautiful too. I’m sorry I don’t notice you more often.
Life isn’t a bed of roses and romance should be left in the pulpy swamps from which it is dredged. What is being acted out around me is grimy. Those visceral feelings are not pure and altruistic, but far more deep seated in a brutal survivalism. Man invented his wheel, but it has been used ever since to ride roughshod over our neighbour.
Humanity is stretched across our flaws like a thin veneer, often chipped and peeling. Social media is full of inspiring clips, much liked for they are deemed remarkable purely because an ounce care and compassion was shown. We have evolved so little since our cave dwelling times. The pictures on the wall may be cable rather than chalk, but the bloodlust is far greater than the killing of a buffalo to feed our kin.
Everywhere I look I see mass acts of greed and hate, of envy and pride, of man beating his chest to prove he is just the dominant ape. It is hate,and not heroism, that has gone viral.
So I will put down my rose tinted spectacles and see my life in the mire. The future isn’t looking good so I am going to turn off my television, leave my cave, and see if someone wants a slice of buffalo. I will find the meme inside myself and share it in the social networks of reality. It’s time for me to reinvent my wheel.
We all see the world differently. Perspectives can change with time and place. However difference can unite us or divide us. It is up to us to decide on that.
I am a gay. That makes me somehow different. In my life, that difference has been the source of intense hatred from some and touchingly profound love from others. Being outside, my brothers and sisters showed me what solidarity can look like. Being outside, sometimes I really needed them. My family never cast me out and indeed, love and acceptance has been more of a motif than hate.
Hate is strong though. The power of seemingly isolated incidents can butterfly effect into a tsunami that crushes self esteem and inhibits self expression. I remember so many of the acts of hate, so vividly. Why then can’t I recall the individual kindnesses with the same focus too.
I am going to change my perspective. Acts of love need to be marked and gratitude needs to be both registered within and expressed without. I am surrounded by love, not hate, and the bubble I float in should not be popped by the occasional small prick.
From today I will see the world differently.
“Whatever makes her happy on a Saturday night” sang Suede once upon a misspent youth I squandered many years ago. However I don’t think Brett and the boys ever thought that going out on a Saturday night could be so tragic and terrible.
In London there has been yet another attack and yet more loss of life. So tonight it won’t “be okay like everyone says” it won’t “be alright and ever so nice”. It has been carnage and chaos on the streets of Britain’s capital and far away from home I worry about the people I love.
However, what happens after an event like this is what is important. If you allow hate to be planted in your heart then the war on terror has been lost. Hate and fear are what terrorists want. They seek to divide the world. At a time like this, I hope that people will look for commonality and not difference. The diverse people of Britain are united in a kingdom where we share more values than we realise. We want to live in peace and go to work and get on with the banal and humdrum daily activities of being a mum, dad, sister, brother, daughter or son. We want to build a life to share with the people we know and love.
So on this Saturday night I won’t be singing to Suede. I will return to the song, that for me is a relevant today as when it was written because “we have got to find a way to bring some understanding here today”. Forty six years later I still agree with Marvin Gaye.
War is not the answer for only love can conquer hate
So a man decided to attack Parliament in London. The man was a Muslim. This was a terror attack. The logic is very simple. However this simplistic logic can be quite dangerous. There are extra police on the streets of Britain. Sadly what is feared most now is not another attack on the highly protected mother of all parliaments, but an attack on ordinary Muslims living in the U.K.. Why would anyone do that? Islamophobia apparently, but surely its just good old fashioned stupidity served with a dash of post-imperial racism. A Muslim man attacked Parliament so let’s should attack someone with the same religion. Or even more ridiculous let’s expect someone of that religion to explain the motivation behind the attack and a solution to ISIS and Syria while they are at it.
I know what fills me with terror and it’s not terrorists. I see people, scared people, not terribly intelligent people, who are filling themselves with hate and anger. This vitriol is then hurled indisciminately at people who are in some sense, other. It could be Muslims, gays, the disabled, blacks, Europeans, Asians or intellectuals. There are a lot of people in the world to hate and ironically, the narrower the mind, the broader the hate spectrum. We need a war on that kind of terror. We need to educate the ignorant and reduce the threat of prejudice. So let’s choose a phobia and start to gently wipe the fear from the minds the scared people.