I give a lot of talks about Autism. Often people in the audience remark that I seem to be talking more about being human than just speaking on Autism. Given recent changes in the world and the fact that I think I do have some useful thoughts, I drafted this open letter to everyone on thoughts about being human and doing it well. Here goes…
Genetically, we are thousands of times more similar than we are different. Focussing on difference and particularly being prejudiced or judgemental because someone is different to us is not only very rude and unhelpful, it is also foolish. We are all a bit the same and a little bit different.
On that note, prejudice on any demographic characteristic is just stupid. Has a racist met everyone from the country whose people they don’t like? If not, how can they form an opinion about the whole nation? Does a homophobe know all people who identify as Queer in the world? No? Then please, none of the sweeping generalisations. Prejudice seems to be based in ignorance and fear and stirred up by people trying to deflect blame away from themselves and onto a scapegoat. Foolish and mean and incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands.
We are one of many creatures on this earth. Even though we have built some cool stuff, make some nice sculptures and invented beer and other good things, it is important to remember we are part of the Earth. And yes, apparently we are made form elements from within stars – not really a point in my little manifesto here but a very beautiful fact.
Money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. I feel that money comes and goes. Unless you are poor and need money to be able to find appropriate housing, food etc, try not to think about it too much. When it is spent it is gone but some more will come along soon enough. Whatever Pharaoh thought, you cannot take your money beyond the grave. And nobody in 100 years will remember you have a nice car (or whatever).
Your family does not need to be your biological family. In fact, for some people, biological family are not really family at all. If this is the case for you, it is OK to find yourself a ‘true’ family, composed of people who care for you and respect you and who you care for and respect.
Everyone, from the most senior national leader to the person begging on the street, is born, lives and dies. There are no exceptions to this,
It is true that ‘none of us gets out of this alive’. You can view that as horrific or you can view it as a motivator to do the best you can while you’re here. I aim to leave the world just a little better than it was when I got here. Not a big goal but quite a meaningful one.
We grieve because we love and I think maybe we love because we grieve.
It is OK to make a mistake, make poor choices or fail. Absolutely everyone does it. Don’t beat yourself up about errors – instead recognise it and then try to make some value from it by learning for the future, Adversity can be entirely negative or it can be both negative and useful if you use it as a learn gin opportunity, a /teacher; if you like.
Your mind is a beautiful palace. Fill it with good things.
We all view life through the lens of our own experience. This is why it is so important to listen to other people. You can ask for clarification if you like.
Music, art, theatre, wine, chocolate: none of these are essential to life but they make it richer.
Judging people based on body shape is a terrible thing to do but it happens a lot. You do not know why someone is overweight so assuming they are simply lazy and gluttonous is not only very mean but it may be completely wrong. Whichever, shaming someone is unlikely to help them lose weight!
The beauty in a person is within their mind and soul, not their looks or their figure. I would rather spend my life with someone outwardly ‘unattractive’ than an outwardly ‘beautiful’ person with a hateful heart, or even who was just really boring for that matter!
Everything changes. Each moment becomes another moment. A somewhat scary thought but also a good thought for those facing difficult times. Life is a journey which can take some very odd turns.
Never assume what you have in your life now will stay the same. I went from being prisoner to a student to an author to a government official to a homeowner in eight years. I never stopped – just kept moving on and trying to make the most helpful choices,
The future is not predestined. I’m pretty certain of that. So the choices you make now create your future. Nothing is set in stone. It really is all up to you. I say ‘you are the CEO of your own life – it’s you making the decisions.’
Life is the greatest gift you have. Please don’t throw it away. Make the most from it. Even if things are hard now, you really don’t know what’s around the corner. Cherish the treasure which is your existence.
My final point: cats are the best!