It took a while to recognize my freedom from cultural conditioning as a high value benefit that supports my up spiral of independent sovereignty.
By Steve Staniek
When I look back at my 70 years of autism, I see struggles that I didn’t recognize as benefits at the time, but which grew into ways of finding and navigating the path to liberation and empowerment.
Those of us who are wired differently, experience varying degrees of difficulty trying to connect with, or fit into neurotypical societies. We often find ourselves living on the edges by choice or by default, and there were times when I would have done anything to avoid the pain of isolation by acquiescing to the demands of society, no matter how ridiculous they seemed to me at the time. I’m referring to the process of ‘cultural conditioning’ that affects and shapes neurotypical societies. Those of us growing up on the margins don’t become as deeply conditioned by ‘group think and group dynamics’ used to motivate or control the main population. It took a while to recognize my freedom from cultural conditioning as a high value benefit that supports my up spiral of independent sovereignty.
Becoming part of a large group generally meant surrendering my independence so I would no longer be guided exclusively by my own sovereign thinking, in exchange for a small measure of acceptance and perceived security. The hardest part of that deal is not allowing cultural conditioning to turn me into a mindless robot by assimilation. Whenever humans gather and move together as a group, whether we’re carrying weapons or peace signs, our personal perspective of the surrounding reality becomes radically reduced to a tiny window that limits our vision to the body in front, and the ground below. We are effectively dumbed down and blinded to the bigger reality around us, as we begin to accept alternate models of reality created and manipulated by others. Our options for freedom in its many aspects disappear, and our individual sovereignty descends in a downward spiral, as we find ourselves surrendering to the Borg mind. Eventually our original thoughts are replaced with theirs, as we do their bidding.
But Aspies are natural free thinkers, and we come with very different perspectives that often challenge conventional thinking. Our autistic perspectives are not as corrupted and shaped by culture as the rest of the NT groups, and our views are not as easily controlled by cultural conditioning. This freedom from cultural constraints and restrictions empowers us by allowing us to recognize the control systems used to manipulate the main cultural group toward some political goal.
As free spirits, spectrum people can show the rest of the world the other realities operating around us, as we see them. While many here express their unique perspectives in art forms, here are some of my unconventional observations to add to those already posted on this website.
1. On Literary License – In high school, I tried to show my English teacher and class that Ernest Hemmingway got it wrong when he wrote:“The Sun Also Rises.” From my very literal perspective (shared with the famous heretic, Copernicus), the sun is fixed in the center of our solar system, and Earth rotates as it moves in an orbital path around it. Standing on Earth and looking at our horizon, we see the sun appearing to move in an upward arc across our sky, when in reality it’s the Earth that moves down, making the sun appear as though it’s rising.
2. On Gravity – It’s not a pull but a push. I subscribe to the theory that gravity is produced not by Earth’s mass pulling us in, but by the repulsive force of the enormous collective mass of the universe reacting against the relatively tiny mass of the Earth.
3. On Sovereignty – The official narrative of monarchies claim that the monarch is sovereign, but my autistic eyes have observed that the lowest of us is more sovereign than the person at the top of this arbitrary hierarchy. True sovereignty is freedom from dependence on others. To illustrate this unconventional view, and avoid political conflicts, I use the hierarchy of the jungle to show how the lowly rabbit is more sovereign than the lion king. The rabbit is an independent creature that subsists entirely on grasses, and does not rely on other animals for its existence. The lion however is wholly dependent on, and therefore entirely indebted to all the other species in the jungle. As top predator, it uses violence and threats of violence to dominate the jungle hierarchy. The lion’s absolute dependence on other species for its survival makes it the weakest, and least sovereign of all species. That allows us to put society’s model of hierarchy in the waste can.
4. On Courage – The eagle has been elevated to the status of a national emblem adopted by many countries, based on the traditional misconception that the eagle embodies great courage and nobility. As any nature photographer who has stalked the bald eagle knows, the eagle flees at the sound of a twig snapping hundreds of meters away. It scavenges for food, robs nests, and preys on smaller creatures, exposing a complete lack of nobility. My field experience with the common Black Capped Chickadee however, suggests that it’s far more courageous and noble than the eagle. Chickadees do not flee at the sound of a twig snapping, but actually fly over to investigate the sound. They don’t rob nests, or prey on other birds, and are not afraid of making contact with the loudest beast in the forest, man. One of my most spiritual experiences happened when the first Chickadee came to my hand for a few seeds. As it sat in the palm of my hand and studied my face, its little chest was pounding with raw courage that was palpable and contagious. Chickadees are an inspiring source of spiritual courage, and I think we can learn much from them about living in caring communities.
So have a Chickadee Day, and next time you see one invite it to a truly awesome lunch! A little patience, some seeds, and kind words could be the start of a wonderful relationship. If you can’t find them in your backyard, they usually like to hang out in public parks in all weather.
Steve is a lifelong community activist, who’s main interests are human rights and public safety. He found the shamanic path to be a natural fit, and believes that discovering our spiritual sovereignty and growing it, will heal and liberate us.