Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Us vs. Them

       One big example of how universal ego-centeredness is would be the concept of "us vs. them". It's everywhere and there's no escape. Ethnocentrism is only one form of this, and that's a little like ego-centrism but on the collective. In some ways collective ego can be even more dangerous, insidious and sneaky than individual ego yet appears more altruistic.
       Many people are now familiar with the famous red state/blue state maps that come out every 4 years after the general elections. I'll admit I find them fascinating and have their purpose. What I don't like is how they're used to simplify Americans into "us" or "them" groups with one side being the good guys and the other the bad. People get seen on a linear spectrum of right and left while the average person is far more more complex than these relative terms- and I stress the word "relative". This kind of associative thinking can lead to naive assumptions of others. Where would other countries fit in. Lets say a country is Socialist/Far Left but they still have the death penalty and wouldn't dream of same-sex marriage? The terms "right" and "left" may have a different meaning and context in other countries. A "San Francisco Bay Liberal" may not have much in common with many "Rust Belt Democrats". Many people are not at all into news or politics but among themselves have their own "us vs. them" dichotomy (eg. those who love pit-bulls vs. those who don't, those who love punk rock vs. those who don't get it...). I'll in admit that even in the "Autistic Community" there are signs of an "us vs. them" mentality here and there. For those who don't know the term NT or neuro-typical refer to people who are not ASD.
       Our own culture changes too. If one looks at the red/blue maps from historic elections going way back the "red" and "blue" counties and regions have changed. Even among well meaning good causes not aligned with the contemporary political or religious spectrum, there is frequently a "people are either with us or against us" attitude. This sometimes created a false dichotomy which can be used to manipulate people against their own reason and prevent "thinking outside the box". I'm Catholic for example, and when reading Catholic literature and online discussions there is a strong divide in people who support Vatican II and people who bitterly oppose it. Then again there are many younger Catholics who don't even understand what Vatican II was and would be lost in such an argument. I'm also a dog lover and found that even in the warm hearted "dog lover community" there is sometimes heated debates between those who follow Caesar Millan's methods in a biblical way, and those who are dogmatic about "positive reinforcement only". Of course there is overlap between both sides as both only want the best for their dog but might not realize that others with a different view mean just as well.
       In dealing with Autistic people and other developmentally disabled people there are many good people and few go into Human Services with purely selfish motives. The pay is not usually that good anyway. But no one is immune to their own ego not even a Buddhist monk. While this not know to be as competitive or cut-throat of a field as are many corporate environments, there is sometimes a moral one-upsmanship among "bleeding hearts" that can turn nasty under the radar. It is important to recognize and respect the good intentions of others even if we disagree strongly. Many times people just differ on the best methods to reach the same goal (as is the case in politics). People may differ in which way to view or approach Autism. Many times the only thing people agree on is how wrong everyone else is. In politics I feel most "Conservatives" and "Liberals" want to see an end to poverty, world peace, less crime, less corruption, less waste, good roads, and even a good beer, but it's on the means to the end in which they disagree.
       PS: If I start to seem a little random or off-topic at times- good. While I want to use this blog to give another insider perspective on the Autistic Spectrum, it is not the only purpose of this blog and Autism is not the center of my identity. So far this blog is resembling an Autism e-book with the chapters backwards more than a blog but it is still a blog so don't be surprised if I don't throw in a random post about the weather or something on the news. This week hasn't been all that exiting in weather or current events. I also don't intend for this site to be all serious. I don't like being serious unless I have to be. So far I don't have a lot of catchy photos and images yet. There will be since I like to take pictures and as for images I have to do more research on copyright laws so I don't make any big faux-pas. I realize there is a need for information and different perspectives as people try to understand Autism. I also understand that the Internet is flooded with information on the topic much of it excellent and I don't want to just repeat the obvious. This is why I'm taking a laid back approach to this and not too worried about being comprehensive. Autism/Neurodiversity is such a broad and evolving topic anyway- it would be impossible to say all that needs to be said in one lifetime.

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