I hadn’t planned to write this.
I had a nice post in my head, practically putting itself on this page, about something happy and cheerful.
But then, something happened.
Something that broke a little bit of my heart.
You all know how important the subject of autism is to me, and how it affects our family everyday.
So when I hear about people suffering because they didn’t get the help they needed, or got left out of the circle of caring that every human being deserves, my heart aches.
Last week, someone gave up the struggle. Someone who deserved better than he got gave up the fight to live, because no one was there to tell him he was needed. No one was there to tell him that he had something to give to society, and he thought his life was expendable.
The message he got was bullying in school. The message he got was rejection. He got that he was a social misfit, and had no real friends.
This song plays out over and over and over again. We need to change it.
If Everyone Cared and Nobody Cried
It breaks my heart a little bit more every time I hear about someone no longer able to accept the place society gave him, simply because he didn’t know how to fit his unique look at life into the accepted mold.
His obituary is carefully and kindly written. He had “a great passion for drama and literature, especially writing his own stories and material. He also found enjoyment in reading within the fantasy genre… Harry Potter Novels… he enjoyed music and his favorite song, “If Everyone Cared,” brought him some sense of comfort.
“Blessed with an old soul [he] was humble, kind, wise beyond his years and saw things in a unique way… He was brave, trusted willingly, never cried and had no fear. A problem solver, he pondered openly about ways to find peace and agreement amongst others. …He could not understand how anyone would want to intentionally bring harm to others rather than live together harmoniously. A thinker… he enjoyed a peaceful and quiet environment. He could bond and connect with animals in a unique way most people never experience.
“He deeply absorbed words, thought and felt intensely, tried to be a friend to many, …. sought acceptance, craved compassion, and wanted to ‘fit in’ but instead, captured and internalized the rejection. Still he remained patient and kind, never wishing anger or harm to anyone. Selflessly, he consistently worried more for others than himself. More than he could ever comprehend, he brought pride and joy to his family.”
If Everyone Shared and Swallowed Their Pride
How many people, do you think, in his town, in his school, in his circle of peers, knew this about him? How many, do you think, took the time to try and understand his heart?
I’m afraid there were not very many. My family was neighbors to him, and didn’t know him that way. Granted, my family was not socially close to his family, but should we have been? Should we have known that with his strange ways he would need someone who cared, besides his own family?
This is hard for me to describe, but I see it so much for individuals in the autistic community, if you want to call it that.
They want friendship beyond their families.
They crave compassion and want to ‘fit in’ but instead find only rejection.
Everyone thought this young man was dealing with it.
Everyone thought his ‘old soul’ and understanding ways would be enough.
They thought his desire for peace, harmony and nonviolence would prevail.
But in the end…
…when it was all said and done…
a young man in the tenth grade saw no future for himself, and took himself to another world.
Imagine What the World Could Be
And my question is…
Who of us is making a difference for these rejected souls?
How many, outside of the few who work in social work because they have hearts of compassion, actually understand what this young man lived each and every day?
His intelligent mind told his emotional mind that he could be okay. That if he showed love and caring and compassion to others, he would get it in return.
His superior intelligence could grasp all that, but his lonely soul could not win over his intelligence.
this is a fine line. And I sit here and weep as I think of the many who walk that line every day of their lives.
Let’s Show the World They were Wrong
Let’s be the ones to make a difference for someone today. And everyday. Because they know the difference. They know if you truly care, or if the pat on the head is a one-time deal.
Can we fit one person like this into our lives? Can we set aside a tiny bit of our schedule to have a consistent relationship with someone who needs it?
What works great, as I have seen, is a text now and then. A song shared, or the old word of cheer. It really doesn’t take much. Then, once every couple of weeks, plan a coffee meetup or a shopping outing or just let this person hang out at your house for a few hours while you go ahead with your own thing.
Consistency is the key, and it doesn’t have to play out daily. They may act like they want to be with you every day, because they crave friendship. But they truly will get it if they have one or two people in their lives besides family that give them consistent, honest friendship. They will want to know, when you part ways each time, that there will be a next time. Just a promise, “I’ll text you on Friday” or, “Let’s go for coffee next week” is fine.
That gives them something to look forward to. It gives them the joy of feeling a part of something.
This doesn’t sound that hard, does it? We should all be able to do that for someone, and then everyone would have someone to care. And the caring would give them the little tilt they need to stay on the upward side of that fine line.
To paraphrase Hillary Clinton and the old African Proverb she was referring, it takes a village to raise a person up from a hard place.
People say, “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, my grandfather did”. That may be true, but many of those “bootstraps” are no longer available today. And the first and foremost problem is that the supportive community of our grandparents day, the village, the neighborhood, that place where people looked out for each other and supported each other, where they shared joys and sorrows, good times and bad times, in many places is no more. It has gone the way of the gaslight, the horse, and the buggy. And we’re paying a really big price for that loss. source.
And Teach Them All to Sing Along
Singing amen, I, I’m alive.
May we help someone to sing today.
Note: All words in color are taken from the song, “If Everyone Cared,” by Nickelback. All the Digital sales of this song go to Amnesty International and International Children’s Awareness Canada. I personally have never heard the song, but the lyrics I found read like a song promoting awareness and compassion for those in need. A beautiful goal, and so wonderful that some proceeds go to charity.