Feel free to connect with Marcelle Ciampi in Linkedin or Samantha Craft on Facebook
Equality does not equate to acceptance—the whole of the human race will never reach mutual agreement on what is acceptable—be it physical, emotional, mental, cognitive or behavioral presentation. It’s an impossibility. There will always remain limits to acceptance based on our individualized morals and values. There will always be outliers who are deemed dangerous or criminal. One cannot accept all divergents who lie outside the norm of society. Just as the all of society cannot stagnantly teeter on one concept that defines divergent.
Differences, diversity, and atypical are ever-changing concepts, interdependent on shifting societal norms and the invisible dominant players lodged within the societal constructs. Cultural constricts will continue to allow room for the ideals of individuality and authenticity, but not for full acceptance of all. The sociological and psychological barriers obstruct embracing every one and every action. More and more can be collectively selected as equal in measure and deserving of equal treatment, but there will always remain the reality of other-ness. Order, justice, and equality have their opposite counters, that being: disorder, injustice, and inequality. True equality would allow for the counterparts of equality, the rivals, the outliers of equality itself.
Where we might not ever agree on what constitutes the contents within the box of acceptable by societal terms, due to the perpetual churning of societal norms, we can agree to try our best to value one another as human beings.
For most of us, we can respect those who are not a present or feasible future threat to our own or another individual’s well-being or freedom. But what of those who are? When is enough enough? And how much of the state of pushing the limit of enough is based on our reasoning and bias influenced by our culture?
Wherever we turn, we are subjects of society. We are burdened by something that exists that we cannot readily identify, pinpoint, or define. That of cultural influences. Treating our fellow human beings with respect and dignity is advisable; but this holistic act can only occur within limits. Given that what I hold to be true of justice or good-will may be different than what you hold true, the best I can hope for is to practice respecting my fellow citizen in a way that upholds the ideals I find to be worthy, while striving to eliminate undo suffering and affliction upon another being.
We can strive to treat others as best as feasibly possible while maintaining an optimistic aptitude for open-minded encounters and the capacity for change. What we lack in power over societal influences, we make up for in our substantial aptitude to analyze our individual behaviors and embedded ideals.
Regardless of the constricts of the human mind and societal influences, we have the ability to create space for mature conversations.
As we meet to discuss equality and social justice, we need not agree with what is said. Indeed, we can agree to disagree. We can agree to listen to others. Allow for uncomfortable discussion. Mature discussions might include the fact that we each have individual strengths, challenges, and suffering. That we all have wants, needs, and desires; and, that it is in this mutual understanding, that we are more alike than different.
Mature discussions might include avoiding pronouncing who is hurting the most from another human hand, who might be damaged more by the way of the world. Forgoing who is inferior and superior in their misery, and allowing for the suffering of all. We might bear witness to the fact that we are all victims to cultural norms, both the instigator of injustice and the noted injured. Careful discourse might mention the effect of perception on discrimination, the influences of environment, family, media, education, and intellect. We might find interconnection in recognizing that we are each human in our nature, all born with an innate perpetual drive to point out discrepancies and outliers, including the outliers who don’t see or cheer for our selected cause. Including the outliers that do not recognize or emphasize with our suffering.
In order to aim for proper justice, we must pull the weighted-blanket of ego aside and put away our singular need to have our endeavors validated. Replace our reliance on the want of open-armed approval for the want of betterment for the full of society. To want a better life for even those we deem ignorant. To allow room for understanding of their ill- or wrongful-ways. Not to agree, condone, or accept every behavior, but to accept the feasible possibility of eventual admittance of error and reconciliation. To gather and discuss the effects of eradicated definers of evil, of right and wrong. To examine our assumptions and expand thought for individual actions based on naïveté, pressure and influence. To not assume the worst in our neighbor, but the best. And when actions prove ill-will, to work that much harder to educate and bridge to knowledge; and to furthermore, risk the vulnerable action of opening up to a different viewpoint, whilst bringing to the table the origins of one’s own ethics.
It is not enough to want change; we must be that change. In essence, we must risk being that outlier by practicing the act of open-mindedness, and allowing for space to understand others, who don’t necessarily fit within the construct of our ideals and perception of right or wrong.
It’s not enough to raise our voices and fight. We must eventually meet on common ground to discuss the next step. It is to our grave disadvantage to build tall fences, while at the same time demanding entry to the the table of discussion.
If in truth, the perimeters of disability and divergence and discrimination are made way by our own interpretation of able-body and able-minded and normalcy, then we must expose the foundation of our interpretations.
If the majority continually classifies what is the majority, and the counteraction is pushing out the minority, be it of color, creed, action, or opinion, then we must expose the makers of the majority. We must locate the kindling fueling the fire and let loose the water of discourse.
Where it might be an impossibility to shed the interdependence on cultural norms that affects our idea of what is truth, we still have the capacity to steer away from the manifesto of compliance of normalcy.
We have ability to eradicate the interplay of subjective cultural definers of normal. Although this actions might be equated to tugging out the reemerging dandelion flower, as the interplay continues to sprout again and again. Still, it’s reasonable to question existing norms, regardless if they will be replaced with new norms. Choose to embrace the trenches of discomfort, once awakened within the ditch in which you lie. Spy the money mongers who influence the inequities, and forbade us to cast out the poltergeist of normalcy, as well as the multiple layers of complexity that nourish inequity.
Wherein I cannot silence the deafening and dominant voice of the-powers-that-be’s interpretation of typical, I can contemplate my own tendency to attach to what is truth based on influencers.
I can witness my own self selecting stimuli—this stimulus interpreted and understood through a biased mind. I can stand away from self, as observer, and watch my pre-dispositioned mind scaffolding off of past knowledge and past interpretation, noting the relapsing, disjointed interpretations that become declared evidence in a wilting humanity.
And so it is, in standing for justice, I must see the invisible. I must find the shadow which is making rise to man behind curtain, and recognize my own self in turn. And from that outpost, keep keen eye, an existential vision cast upon the disembodied dominant voice gathering evidence from a predetermined dominant collective.
I must pack up the ghost whispers predicating what is within the bounds of normalcy, cast them out to murky sea. And in so doing, be as the withe, withy in my ways. The outlier not proclaimed. Steadfast in my flexibility, moving with the winds of attributes society has pronounced as aspects of divergency. Recognizing that as long as we are to remain civil, we cannot escape interpretation, nor the deliberations of right and wrong, nor the dictation of acceptable and punishable actions. In order to be a citizen of justice, I bade myself to be a cog in the water wheel of norms, within reason; part of the water molecules that move the wheel; less than a drop, but still vital to the functioning.
I am stuck here, within the rank, sort, and design of the hierarchical machine—that of my mind and society. My hope of ratification of justice lies within the means of shattering the deficit-lens of the prescription of abnormal. To stealthy adhere to the causation that abnormal is to be celebrated and not outcast, whilst recognizing the concept itself is neither here nor there, non-existent under the finite scope of reason.
The one thing that remains within my power is to create a safe place for the outlier, for this outlier.
To demand safe places, through the establishment of formidable structures of mature discourse. To bring forth habitats of belonging. A protected fortress where citizens are heard. A place of storyteller and bard. A place where voices rise, not based on greed, nor omnipotence, but integrity, and some semblance of justice. A space where put away are the magnifying glasses in search of definers. Adopted, a distant view, so we might erase from sight the fenced properties that separate one boxed-citizen from the next. Infolding the inflated, umbrella housing markers of diversity; stopping the circumference from expanding. Removing myself voluntarily from whence I squat, hardened and determined, upon the proverbial soapbox; and rebalancing upright, on solid ground, merging into a mutual connective-ness. Meeting at the table, the once-tethered, to tear open armor with tusks of resilience. Beholding the ugly truths of imperfections. Sparse out the austere illusions. Adapting hospitable ways, and, in so doing, removing the stye from mind, the spike from heart, the splinter from soul that reaps injury and missed opportunity to connect.
Marcelle Ciampi (aka Samatha Craft) is a respected autistic author and community advocate, is best known for her writings found in the well-received book Everyday Aspergers. A professional educator, she has been featured in various literature, including peer-reviewed journals, Autism Parenting Magazine, The Mighty, Project Aspie, Art of Autism, and Different Brains. Marcelle works as the Recruitment Manager and Outreach Specialist at Ultranauts Inc., an engineering firm with a neurodiversity-hiring initiative, and is a consultant for Uptimize and Spectrum Fusion. A contributing author of Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, Marcelle speaks globally on the topic of neurodiversity. She also serves as the founder of Spectrum Suite LLC, the co-founder of the Spectrum Lights Inclusion Summit, co-executive of LifeGuides for Autistics (neuroguides.org), and a contributor and advisor to autism organizations and conferences internationally. Some of her works, especially The Ten Traits, have been translated into multiple languages and been shared in counseling offices around the world. She resides in the Pacific Northwest U.S.A. with her sons and life partner.
“Everyday Aspergers is an unusual and powerful exploration of one woman’s marvelously lived life. Reminiscent of the best of Anne Lamott, Everyday Aspergers jumps back and forth in time through a series of interlocking vignettes that give insight and context to her lived experience as an autistic woman. The humor and light touch is disarming, because underneath light observations and quirky moments are buried deep truths about the human experience and about her own work as an autistic woman discerning how to live her best life. From learning how to make eye contact to finding ways to communicate her needs to being a dyslexic cheerleader and a fraught mother of also-autistic son, Samantha Craft gives us a marvelous spectrum of experiences. Highly recommended for everyone to read — especially those who love people who are just a little different.”
~ Ned Hayes, bestselling author of The Eagle Tree