Many autistic advocates are concerned about discrimination and lack of inclusion. Eric was more concerned about the criticism, negativity and bridge-burning going on in social media regarding autism disability issues.
Idealism must be tempered with pragmaticism. Being unwilling to accept anything short of perfection is not helpful. Going on a crusade to force our views on everyone else divides people, making it even harder to build enduring change based on mutual acceptance and addressing root issues.
There is much we can do if we stop fighting each other. If we accept different opinions and approaches. If we stop complaining and start constructing. If we stop waiting for change and become the change ourselves.
Heroes are made, not born. So are leaders. Whether anyone is qualified to lead is not for academics or policymakers to judge. There are no admission criteria, save for our desire to lead the way. There are no grading criteria, save for our ability to deliver on change.
Being a leader is perhaps the most inclusive occupation – because anyone who chooses to can become a good leader.
Advocates who call for more support for disabled people but are themselves too impatient to mentor the disabled are not sincere. Service providers who make demanding criteria of how they must be treated, chasing all potential clients away, are not sincere.
Likewise, leaders who offer solutions that cannot be implemented even after they pass on are not sincere.
Equality is not only something others grant to us; equality is something we must grant to ourselves first before others can grant that to us. That means striving to be equal – not taking advantage of accommodations that we do not need, focusing on self-reliance rather than dependency on external help as well as striving to improve ourselves to be more competitive and capable.
Respect is not purchased with rank or academic qualifications but earned with emotionally mature behaviour demonstrating tact, wisdom and sincerity. Disability (and autism) is no excuse to indulge intentionally in divisive, quarrelsome and petty behaviours. This is even more so for those supposed to know better thanks to much life experiences and academic qualifications.
The best leader is not the one with the most followers, but the one who brings most people to leadership. Eric does not believe in a few superstar leaders representing and fighting for the community, but in everyone taking charge of their lives and supporting the community together.
So take heart everyone: we do not need to wait for saviours because we are our saviours. Let us start the dialogue towards mutual understanding and demonstrate how we can unite the community to make the world a better place.