It was hate that knocked you down
and it pinned you to the ground
I’m a hateful person and I’m not proud of that. I’m hateful of the society and so-called civilisation. I detest the fact that people care more about social hierarchy than social (in)justices. The modern technology of communication has further stripped people of their basic manners and decency. Life has become a show business.
I had a strong sense of social justice since I was a child, what I didn’t realise then was that injustice was so close to heart until I became one of the marginalised group myself (autism). When I was at school, I would make friends with classmates who were ostracised either because they weren’t doing as good academically or they were often absent due to sickness. I wasn’t tough enough to stand up for them but I can offer my friendship. I knew how it felt to be singled out and excluded. Although I never experienced physical bullying, I was set up and accused of doing things that I didn’t, my quietness was taken as a sign of guilt and weakness, on the other hand, I wasn’t given a chance to defend myself, my only response was to cry out of helplessness. Since then, I became wary, even defiant, of people in authority (teachers, prefects, class monitors) because they were culpable for perpetuating the power imbalance. I started to build up my defensive protective mechanisms and even till now, I get triggered into a defensive mode easily because I wasn’t defensive enough when I was a child.
2014 was the year of my autism awakening (I got my diagnosis earlier before 2014 but I wasn’t fully aware of its implications then – it is very characteristic of me that I’m always slow to react). I gave myself two years to do everything I can to get myself out of the country and move to Australia. 2016, I started this blog and gave myself another two years. 2018 came and went. Whenever people ask about my progress, I struggle to answer. To tell the truth, I don’t know how. If someone could just tell me that to move or get a job in Australia, I’ve got to do A, B, C and D, or A, Z, E, Y and J, that’d be easy but it doesn’t work that way so I’m looking over round the places searching for answers. I tried the autism advocacy route because it is the only area I can think of that I’m interested in and can make meaningful contributions to and thus, demonstrate my skills and worth. Of course, it could work against me if autism is seen as a deficit that would make me an unwelcome burden. Let’s just say my self-advocacy plan hasn’t worked out well so far, it’s a fierce competitve world out there and autistic people are not immune to competition.
When I was in Brisbane to present my poster last year, there was another conference participant from the same country as I am who presented a poster about teaching students with special educational needs. In the poster, she mentioned about getting employment offers from schools in Australia, I took down her contact details and sent her an email recently to find out if she could share her experience with me. I sent out a ‘proper’ email (as I always do), by that I meant beginning with “Dear so and so”, ending with best regards. I introduced myself as an autistic researcher and ended the letter apologising for the questions I have and saying there is no need to worry about responding immediately if she’s busy. I asked her several questions, such as what was her degree, what courses would I need to take to qualify, how did she get involved in special education and if she can reveal the name of the school that hired her.
In her reply, she said I can do a postgraduate degree in education. Whether special schools employs me or not, it depends on them. Two sentences, that’s it. No dear or hi, no best wishes or regards. It was cold. I wasn’t expecting a detailed career history from her but whatever happen to manners? Am I expecting too much of human courtesy? After all, she did reply, didn’t she? What more can I ask for? I mean those “dearest” and “yours sincerely” were a bit pretentious anyway, weren’t they? I remembered sitting through lessons in letter writing when I was a child and thinking why should I address a person “Dear” when I don’t even know them? Do teachers still teach that in schools today? If her brusque response in anyway reflects her mental health state or quality of interaction with her students, good luck to the students. She is probably burnout too. And on that note, I am sorry that my “mental health affirmations” did not bring any sort of comfort, might it be mis-interpreted as a mockery? I need to further reflect on this.
A rather more disturbing thought I have is would her mannerisms changed if I was someone higher up the social hierarchy? The conference organizer? A well-known autistic advocate? A professor? I attended a conference on children’s rights few months ago at the university. After the conference, I stayed to talk to one of the presenters who is involved in a disability advocacy group and who I know is on the autism spectrum. I wanted to introduce myself for if I ever get to do my research, I would like to involve the local autistic community. He was a really friendly person but while he was happy to talk to me, it was obvious that he was more interested, at that moment, to go around, talk, take pictures with other presenters, including the international reputable speakers so I told him I’d wait because obviously, I am a nobody compared to these other famous high-ranking people although what have they practically done to help the development of children’s right, I can’t say for certain. Call me sour grape, I’d admit I don’t get impressed by fame or social hierarchy. I would hold more respect for these people if they use their fame to empower people to speak for themselves. Again, I suspect I’m asking too much. I don’t know these people well enough to be judging them. My bad. I’m sure my perspective would change if I ever join the league of famous people but I fear that would not ever happen and that’s probably a good thing too, I might become a different person.
I fear for my future as well as this city’s future. On my way to work one morning, I spotted my neighbour ahead of me and as I was about to overtake her on the narrow stairs, she turned around and gave me this stern furious look but when she realised it was me, she immediately softened and smiled a little. I didn’t blame her. This city is already overloaded beyond what it can handle and people are overworked and tired, they can’t even enjoy a moment of peace while on the stairs.
I’m not proud of who I’m. There is too much hate in me at the moment. I don’t like that. The environment isn’t helping either. There are renovation works going in my building, construction works at my workplace, even construction works along the nature trail where I walk. There’s noises everywhere, madness everywhere.
Sorry but comments are closed. I’m not really looking for comments unless you have any practical advice on moving to another country. I’m not looking for comfort so I’d spare people the trouble of coming up with words to comfort. I hope that doesn’t make me sound cold or unappreciative but I am thankful enough that you are even spending your precious time to read my post. And that, having my thoughts heard and vented, is good enough. People are always welcomed to send me a private message if they want to keep in touch. Thanks for reading.
It was hate that knocked you down.
and it pinned you to the ground,
you swore you’d get up again,
and you’d get through this