I’m so humbled – I’ve now reached over 100 followers on Twitter. I realize that politicians and celebrities have counts in the millions, but I am content expressing my personal voice in our own special community.
Twitter has a wonderful way of building community with strangers around the world. Where Facebook is great about staying in touch with close family and friends who live on Facebook, and Instagram is incredibly inspiring with beautiful images for me to paint, it’s Twitter where I find the actual conversations take place.
I think one of the most important concepts which arises in my mind as I read the hundreds of tweets involving our community is that each voice matters – and also that no one voice should dominate. That is, I sometimes see a Twitter user dismissing other voices as being unimportant. That feels sad to me. If there’s any one critical lesson that we in the autism community should have learned, it is that every voice matters. Every one. Even ones who dissent.
Dissension is how we learn and grow.
Yes, it can be challenging to hear an opinion you disagree with. It can be upsetting to have your sense of “what is right and what is wrong” questioned. But the world is full of 7.8 billion people. Think of that. Billion. Each of us is one unique voice out of 7.8 billion. If it took you one second to say a person’s name, it would take you 240 YEARS to say every name of every person who is alive right now on our planet. It’s stunning.
So of course different people will have different opinions than you do. We all have wildly different brains. Every single brain is unique. Every single brain is made with its own set of instructions and was shaped by its environment as it grew and learned.
So my message would be to strive to hear every voice. Don’t exclude people because they aren’t X or Y or Z and therefore they don’t count. We all count. We all matter. If you disagree with someone, learn from it. Think about the issue. Sometimes the things which upset us the most are the things we can learn from the most. Because at some point comes the peace of being content with our world’s diversity. And the comfort in knowing we each follow our own path, for the blink of an eye we have on this Earth.