Friday, April 29, 2011

Wicked Men Prospering

I was reading some on Bertrand Russell, since a few of the things he's said (primarily some of what he's said about mathematics) appealed to me. Then I came across this (rather common) fallacy:

In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying.
~Bertrand Russell

I think, for me, it is more annoying that this idea exists.

Let's take the view of life as a game. Any game will do, but because I happen to be thinking about it now, let's go with trading card games. Cheaters come about fairly often in these games, and there will be times when these cheaters win because of their cheating, and you might lose because you didn't cheat when you had the opportunity. This seems to prove Bertrand Russell's quote, but only if we don't look deeper.

Trading card games are about who can form superior strategy and tactics with a given set of rules. When a person cheats, they are effectively admitting that they cannot win within the set of rules. This means that they are admitting that you have superior strategy and tactics. When people bemoan how often cheaters win, they are themselves saying that they don't really care about who possesses superior strategy and tactics, only winning.

Similarly, people who complain about being a "good" person and seeing wicked men prosper are saying that they don't care about anything but physical comforts (since, after all, they point to the large number of physical comforts that these wicked men have as defining their prosperity). The problem with this is that anyone who understand the psychology of happiness knows that, no matter what the physical comfort is, it cannot bring happiness. In fact, physical comforts can actually cause depression.

The reason why the "good" person does not have happiness is because all he is focusing on is physical comforts. According to the psychology of happiness, you become happy when you stop caring about these things (something Taoists, Confucians, and really most any of the major religions have been saying for quite some time). The reason why the "good" person is not happy is that he has fallen prey to one of the most simple of faults: Envy. As we can see, this "good" person is not truly good, at least not in the way we normally define it. When you nod and agree with this "good" person, you are overlooking their envy, and betraying your own.

The wicked man does not have prosperity, nor does the man who complains that he does. Only those that do not look to others to measure their own happiness can find true prosperity.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yin and Yang

OK, this post was originally going to be about sex, Taoism, and abstinence, but I apparently need to address a misconception. One that's almost as bad, and much more common, than Tao/Dao = Way.

That misconception is what Yin and Yang are. ...Or, rather, that they actually are anything. I remember reading articles that claimed that Taoism is sexist because Yin is both female and evil.

...Except Yin isn't. What Yin is is the opposite and equal of Yang. That's it. Look at it this way: Yin is male and evil and Yang is female and good. Or, perhaps, Yin is female and good and Yang is male and evil. Let's try another one: Yin is up and Yang is down, or Yin is down and Yang is up.

Again, Yin is not female. It's the equal and opposite of Yang, and Yang is the equal and opposite of Yin. Whatever force Yin is used to represent, Yang is the opposite and equal force. If Yin is used to represent female, then Yang represents male. If, on the other hand, Yin is used to represent male, then Yan represents female.

So where did this misconception come from? It seems to me that it comes from an ease of use issue. Early Taoists started using Yin to represent female, and so it became a habit to make it easier for people to understand. This happened with the other concepts people mistake Yin and Yang for being.

Yin and Yang are the equal and opposite of each other, nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Fool On the Hill

Last night, I watched a movie entitled Dinner for Schmucks. This post is not about that movie, though, but the song that was playing in the beginning.

This song struck me because of how well it described me. In fact, it didn't just describe me exceptionally well, it seemed to describe Chuang Tzu perfectly.

What must Hui Tzu have thought of Chuang Tzu, to be so dismissive of a post with such honor and respect as Prime Minister of Liang? It seems that people everywhere considered Chuang Tzu a fool. It does not matter, though. He recognizes the wisdom within him, so their thoughts on the matter prove themselves the fools.

I've talked about how lucky I was to be able to develop enough confidence in myself that I could dismiss the things people would say about me. A lot of autistics don't get around to developing this confidence before the dozens of people that insist that they're somehow wrong finally get to them. I learned long ago that I have a unique way of viewing the world, and I think that's largely due to the fact that I am autistic.

And yet, when I tell people my view of the world, they are dismissive of it. It's not how they see the world, and so it must be wrong. I've often said that, in the land of the blind, a one eyed woman would be locked up in a mental institution.

There are people out there that see the wisdom in the way I (and other autistics) see the world, but the vast majority do not. It is sad, but you must understand that that does not make you a fool. Wise men are often called fools. Obviously, that doesn't make them so.

Don't let the words of foolish people affect you so. Do not blind yourself to the eyes in your head that see the world spinning around merely because of the words of others.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where's the pride?

I was reading a topic on WrongPlanet. It claimed that autism is a disability because autistics are completely incapable of finding love.

First of all, I'd like to point out that, from my way of thinking, autism, by itself, is not a disability.

More importantly, though, I feel that this post shows how autistics think of their autism. I've said before that I believe one source of pride in my autism is that I wasn't told for 20 years that everything I am is wrong. That applies to interpersonal interactions as well, though.

Friends, coworkers, family, and significant others (or lack thereof) can all affect how a person thinks of being autistic. In my experience, autistics get along very well with other autistics. If there are other autistics, or neurotypicals that don't dismiss autistics, around an autistic, then they won't consider themselves wrong. Naturally, a negative reaction to autistics will exacerbate the lack of a positive reaction.

For me, I had enough confidence in myself that the lack of many friends or significant others going through school was not an issue for me.

But you must let go of the past and peoples' ignorance. If you never had the chance before to interact with other autistics or autistic-accepting neurotypicals, then now is the chance to change that. There are autistics around you, and you will know them when you see them. Autistics are rare, but when you find one that you can connect with, it will be worth it.

Remember, though we are in the minority, we are not alone, and being part of a minority does not make us wrong.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Golden Rule

I've said before - many times - that I would never want to be neurotypical. There are obviously many autistics that don't want to be neurotypical, either. Of course, there are plenty of neurotypicals that would never want to be autistic, even knowing all I know. I've said before that I believe that one of the reasons I wouldn't want to be neurotypical, or even be able to emulate a neurotypical, is because of how I was raised.

But there's another reason. I am not you, whoever you are. You look at me and think, "If I was like that, I would want someone to come and make me more like how I am now." The problem with this is that you are not like that. That reasoning only works for you. Do not do unto me as you would have others do unto you. The reasoning behind "The Golden Rule" is flawed. For more on this, consider Bob the Masochist.

Every person you meet has different wants and different needs. I am not you; my needs do not match yours. You may love who you are and wish to be no one else. I mean no offense, but I don't wish to be you. I wish to be me. I have no want to be anything else. Do not try to "cure" me. There is nothing to be cured.

Always beware of what you believe others want. It may be what you want.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I was reading an article about how autistic pride is based on laziness. See, the logic behind this is that the reason why autistics don't want to learn social skills is because it's hard.

Funny story: I'm not the most athletically adept person. Am I supposed to work on trying to become a professional basketball player?

When a neurotypical person isn't that good at mathematics, for example, we don't try and put the neurotypical in calculus classes. We teach them enough to get by (for some reason, we don't have them take Consumer Economics, which would probably be a lot more beneficial than Geometry) and then focus on their strengths. There's a reason why Time and Newsweek are considered snobbish when they write their articles at a tenth grade level: We don't try and push people to become masters of things they have very little ability with. For the record? I was reading at a college level the first time I was tested (in the 9th grade). It's not difficult to read at that level, but Time and Newsweek wouldn't be able to sell many magazines if they wrote at that level.

I have about enough social skills to get by in my everyday life. I can go to the store, talk to some close friends of mine, and things along those lines. I don't need to have extraordinary social skills. I will never be a salesperson or a customer service representative. I will likely never be a politician. I am fine with this. Instead, I focus my effort on my stengths, which is what every neurotypical is allowed to do. Autistics, on the other hand, are not allowed to focus on our strengths. We instead must fight the way we naturally are, putting so much effort in our social skills that, if redirected to our strengths, would allow us to be in the top of whatever field we choose.

Wei wu wei: Ideal inaction, action without effort. I could spend eight hours a day every day for the next several years slowly working my social skills to the average of a neurotypical. Instead, I decided to focus on other fields. If I had spend the past several years focusing on social skills, I wouldn't be able to play poker, write, bake, and all the other things I've been able to do. I wouldn't have any sort of useful skills other than my ability to make change. I'd be destined to working at a fast food chain as a cashier for the rest of my life. Instead, I can write, and bake, and play poker. I can contribute to society in a way other than asking if you'd like fries with your burger.

I put effort in my strengths, because it's much more beneficial, as a time:benefit ratio, than focusing on improving my social skills. I'm not a people person, and I have no issue with that. I'm not constantly making myself miserable to meet an impossible goal. Ideal inaction in action. Just like the person that has difficulty reading above a 9th grade level, I don't try and become a master of social skills.

Autistics are not special. We have strengths and weaknesses. What's special is how we are treated. Instead of being allowed to focus on our strengths, we are pushed to focus on our weaknesses. Why can't we be allowed to practice wei wu wei along with the neurotypicals?

Edit: As far as the argument that humans are social creatures and social skills are therefore important: Language is important, too. It's a social function (that's why incredibly smart octopi have absolutely no language, but chickens have a rudimentary language). And we still have people in their twenties and thirties who still think that "alot" is a word. There's not much issue with that. We're not forcing those people to take specialized classes for eight hours a day every day so they know to put a space between the "a" and the "lot."

Friday, December 31, 2010

I had been meaning to write this since the 25th, but ended up posting about compassion instead. Why have I been meaning to write it since Christmas? Because it's about the significance of a Christmas gift that was given to me by my younger sister.

It was a frame, and inside the frame were objects that she felt represented me. There were poker cards and chips, as well as a couple pictures... and a Pokemon card and arcade tokens. To understand the significance of this, you must understand the legend behind the name of Lao Tzu.

You see, Lao Tzu is not actually a name. It's more along the lines of a title. Now, there has been debate in the past about what exactly it means (there are those that believe it means "Old Master" rather than the legend), but the legend is that it means "The Old Boy." Whether it actually means this or not, a sort of playful attitude towards life has been an important part of Taoism from the start.

The arcade tokens and Pokemon card were meant to signify that this is something that I still have. This playful attitude so often fades or even disappears as a person leaves their childhood behind. And I don't claim to have kept it all, but I'm glad I held onto as much as I did. My life hasn't been the easiest (I might go into detail in the future, but the difficulties in my life are beyond the scope of this post), but I still have much more than most people do. I retained considerably more than people who have gone through even one of these hardships.

What do I attribute this to? Being autistic. Some of these hardships seem to affect people because of the way society views them. Others affect people because of the importance they place on themselves. For the first: How society views anything has very little effect on me. For the second: As I've said, my mind is a very logical one, and I've been able to set aside the effect of self-importance on those hardships.

Most certainly, a strong spiritual nature (first when I thought I was Christian and later Taoism) has helped, but I doubt I could have retained that spiritual nature if not for my autistic mind.

As I've said before, these hardships have affected me, but not to the point that they seem to affect others. If not for me being autistic, I would never have been able retain my view on the world.


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