One of my self imposed guidelines for social media is, “take nothing personally.” However, I am not always successful in following it and when it comes to others attacking people I care about, directly or indirectly, it tends to fly out the window.
Recently the personal attacks on social media directed at 16 year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg by climate deniers has gotten under my skin. Still, I managed not to engage with any of these hateful people until I happened to come across a glaring example of complete ignorance that someone tweeted in the form of this sentence:
Greta, has autism. Aspbergers which means she believes all that is said to her and repeats it.
And then I just had to set this person straight. I did manage to do it without violating Twitter's guidelines, though not my own, and I'm perfectly okay with that.
For the record that sentence is not true. People with Aspergers Syndrome (aka, Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD) simply have difficulty with social communication and are likely to have sensory challenges as well but they are just as intelligent and often more so than anyone who is neurotypical.
I know all of this because I happen to be married to someone with this mild form of autism and trust me, he doesn't believe all that is said to him. In fact, I believe that his sense of right and wrong is more objective than mine because he doesn't follow or even take notice of social cues that might influence him otherwise. He believes in following the rules as long as they are based on logic and fairness and if they are not, he won't follow them or he will complain about them and pays no heed to what the consequences may be.
Greta reminds me of him in that way and she has helped me to further see and respect the value of that. I realized that, just as she is speaking to the collective conscience of our society with her unequivocal stance on the dire reality of our planet's climate emergency, my husband's insistence on doing what's right keeps me honest and in tune with my own higher principles. Because of him, I never throw away a recyclable item even when I'm tempted to for the sake of convenience and I always make sure my car comes to a complete and full stop at any stop sign when I'm driving. But more than that, I have learned from him, and now from Greta, that I do not need social validation to believe in or to act on what I know is right and just.
It has been said that Aspergers makes Greta Thunberg a better activist and I think that is true because both she and my husband have inspired me to be a better person.
So be warned, if I catch you saying ignorant things about either one of them, all bets are off.
Peace, love and justice for all,