Filed under: autism, disability, Parenting, success | Tags: asperger's, autism, childhood, children, growing up, happiness, life lessons, parenting, success
There is a tradition of people in their maturity addressing, in writing, their childhood selves; turning sixty seems a good time.
I think the first thing I would say to my younger self is, “There is nothing wrong with you. You may find the world confusing and feel out of place, you may be aware you are different and don’t fit in; your brain is wired differently from other people, not wrongly, just differently. You will eventually learn you have Asperger’s syndrome, high functioning autism, it’s no big deal. However it’s something you share with some of the great people of history, they are great because they walked their own way. I wasted time trying to be normal and fit in, you are normal for you, you will never fit in with the norm, but those who matter will include you. You may feel now that you will never have friends you can trust, you will, but they will be few, their lack of numbers offset by the quality of their friendship.
You may feel alone now, it will not be forever so. You find girls confusing and think you will never understand them, I am sorry but you never will, that’s nothing to do with the Asperger’s its the curse, or blessing, of all men; don’t worry, it is just what’s so. The best you can hope for is that you will find a girl who understands you and accepts you as you are; you will, I did. When you find her, love her and tell her often that you love her, women like that sort of thing. Love is another thing you will never understand, but there will come a time when you know you are loved, and you love so much it brings tears of joy to your eyes. You will learn that tears are not always bad, but often beautiful. You will never understand romance, I’m still trying, I have worked out that it’s something to do with flowers. On the subject of love I should mention sex; apparently it is not just a bodily function, but women have it as a way of expressing love, take your cue from her. Oh, and you can learn a lot about the mechanics of sex from books, you probably won’t get much practice before marriage and when it comes to sex, practice may cause problems.
Sex tends, eventually, to lead to children. There are books on the practical aspects of parenthood, but nothing can prepare you for the emotional chaos children bring. The best advice I can give is love them and do your very best, whatever you do they will turn out as they will, and all you can do is love them and be their for them. Parenthood is an emotional maelstrom, yours and theirs, whatever happens hold on to them, but let them go their own way and make their own mistakes. Not all your tears will be the good sort. Grandchildren make it all worthwhile.
You are intelligent and have lots of potential, however other people’s expectations of you are just that, other people’s expectations. Walk your own way. I have used my intelligence to get into management, in all honesty it did not make me happy and caused a lot of stress. There is nothing wrong with ambition and realising your potential, but it is more important to be happy and to go to bed looking forward to waking up in the morning. One thing you should know is that there is help available for you with employment and studies. I dropped out of university, had my Asperger’s been known perhaps I might not. Would my life have been better with a degree I neither know nor care; I can only live this life in this moment, speculation on what may have been is futile. Remember follow your happiness, what does not make you truly happy is unlikely to be right for you. Walk your own way, follow your happiness and work at your pace.
Change is inevitable, sorry. As you go through life you change schools, change jobs, meet new people and worse lose them. Pets and people die and when you love them it hurts so badly you want to go to bed and never wake up again. Life goes on and the pain somehow changes into a sort of bitter sweet wistfulness that adds a richness to living. The only way is through, you will come through, I have many times.
Keep an open mind. It is too easy to see things digitally. In fact nothing is entirely good or bad, black or white, there may always be factors of which you are unaware. By all means hold firm to your values, but don’t judge others by your standards, what matters is that they meet their own. By all means avoid those who make you uncomfortable, but first examine your reasons; prejudice is a very poor basis for decision making. Try and be tolerant, other people may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean they are not worthwhile. Be open to experience and be prepared to put up with some discomfort. Push your boundaries, get out of your comfort zone. Pursue knowledge insatiably and don’t discount anything just file away the stupid stuff, further information may make it sensible. Finally, for now, read and read and read widely, about anything and everything you live in an amazing universe immerse yourself in it and enjoy it. Walk your own path, in your own way, with an open mind, be open to experience, but above all follow your happiness.
Filed under: disability, Justice, Politics, Scotland, Yes Scotland | Tags: Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, Scottish Labour, SNP, Trident
I am very disappointed by the number of SNP supporters who seem desperate to join the Tory media in attacking Jeremy Corbyn. We have many points of agreement with Corbyn and where we agree we should work together. Together we can fight the Tories, when we attack Corbyn we are serving the interests of the Tory party.
Corbyn is a unionist true, but just as he hopes to persuade his party to unilateral disarmament, we should seek to make him understand the justice of self determination. I don’t think it will be that difficult, I believe in his passion for justice. Of course if independence is just going to make Scotland another tool of international capital it will be a complete waste of effort. However I believe he would support a Scotland committed to social democratic principles as a good thing.
It was not Corbyn’s decision to not discuss Trident at conference and all the papers discussed were drafted before he became leader. The next Labour conference in 2016 well be a better indicator of the direction of travel of the Labour Movement. Until that conference we might best employ a position of cautious, but not uncritical, support for any Labour action with which we agree while maintaining a commitment to independence.
Jeremy Corbyn has benefited from his refusal to stoop to gutter politics and personal attacks. The attacks on him have made him stronger. I suspect that the surest way to revivify Scottish Labour is to drive them to rally around a socialist leader. Far better to give them nothing to push against by following Corbyn’s example and confining our attacks to policy and making the Tories (or the Westminster government) the primary focus of those attacks. Far better to win support for Scottish freedom than provoke resistance to it.
Corbyn’s victory, like the rise of the YES movement, indicates the need and desire for a new type of politics based on positivity and hope. If we aren’t seen to be fair and reasonable, rising above the divisive hate politics of the past, we will suffer by comparison with the new politics Corbyn embodies and we will lose ground to Labour (assuming they follow Corbyn’s lead). There will be plenty of people attacking Corbyn, many from his own party, if we avoid personal attacks the Labour Party will be left to fight itself and the Tories. We must take note of Corbyn’s example and ensure we occupy the moral high ground.
Filed under: Justice, Politics, Scotland, Yes Scotland | Tags: independence, IndyRef, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
You could say this has been an historic week. At the weekend the English Labour Party elected a new leader. Jeremy Corbyn is not an identikit party leader in a sharp suit surrounded by media managers, he is different. An honest man of integrity, without a chequered past, he has upset the establishment who could find so little upon which to attack him that they resorted to highlighting the fact that he didn’t sing the National Anthem at a memorial service and allegedly insulted the country. However when asked about he said his thoughts were elsewhere with the people being remembered and with his parents who lived through the blitz. Certain Zionists tried to discredit Corbyn by accusing him of associating with anti-semites and Holocaust deniers, they couldn’t accuse him of anti-semitism himself because no one would have believed it.
I, like most of the country, had forgotten the whole holocaust denying charge until this week when I was watching the House of Commons debating the Trade Union Bill. As I listened to the arguments and realised that we were facing an attempt to destroy the ability of Trades Unions to protect their members or to campaign politically the words of Pastor Niemöler came, unbidden, to my mind. The Thatcher and New Labour years had served the right wing agenda of demonising socialism and now the Conservative government and their financial backers were going to kill the unions.
“Then they came for the Jews”. In today’s Britain one hopes the Jews are safe. However since Nine Eleven we have seen the increasing demonisation of Muslims in particular, and foreigners in general, culminating in the Conservative resistance to allowing refugees into Britain and the constant suggestion that any Muslim refugees allowed into the UK will bring terrorists along with them. In Britain today the word ‘Muslim’ is almost inevitably followed by ‘terrorist’ and ‘Islamic’ by ‘militant’. The British peoples are being conditioned to regard foreigners with the same suspicion as prewar Germans did the Jews. ‘Foreigners are stealing our jobs, houses, benefits, women, grooming our children, undermining our values and culture. We are in danger of being swamped by a swarm of migrants.’
On BBC Question Time last night the new Shadow Chancellor was attacked for remarks he made in 2003. John McDonnell explained his remarks and apologised for the hurt he caused. In 2003 he wrote an article “Why I Stood up for Bobby Sands.” in the Guardian explaining his remarks. In it he indicates another lesson of history,
“Among British people there has to be an acceptance that the violence of the past 35 years had a root cause. It wasn’t some pathological trait of the Irish. Britain faced such violence in virtually every colony from which it was forced to withdraw, from the Mau Mau in Kenya to the nationalists in India. We have to face up to the fact that without the armed uprising in 1916 Britain would not have withdrawn from southern Ireland. And without the armed struggle of the IRA over the past 30 years, the Good Friday agreement would not have acknowledged the legitimacy of the aspirations of many Irish people for a united Ireland.”
John McDonnell points to a sad fact that very rarely does a subject people achieve independence without violence whether the Belgians in 1830, the Irish in 1916, America in 1776, India in 1947 after many years and several rebellions, Bangladesh 1971, and virtually every other successful move to independence. This week we mark a year since the Scottish Independence referendum and we might well be advised to remember the lessons of history. Were it not for the repeated failure of the English government to honour its promises of Irish Home Rule the Irish would not have had to rise in 1916. Now that the English government is backtracking on the promises made to the Scottish people to in 2014 to secure a No vote, it should pause and remember what happened in Ireland ninety nine years ago.
The Tories claim to honour Winston Churchill. They should bear in mind his advice,
“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Filed under: Politics, Scotland | Tags: Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners, democracy, justice, nationalisation, ownership, privatisation, property, royalty, slavery, Trades Union Reform
I have started watching BBC 2’s excellent series of documentaries on ‘Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners’. Although living in Glasgow we are probably more aware of our debt to slavery than in most parts of Britain, I had not realised how much modern Britain stands on a foundation built of enslaved, exploited and dehumanised people. I was surprised at how many of our ‘noble’ families owe their enoblement and wealth to slavery. I was very interested to discover that Britain’s financial sector was funded by the earnings from slavery. Britain’s trading power owes its former dominance to slavery. Many of those who formed our laws owed their position to slavery both in the Lords and Commons and it is their heirs who still dominate society using the industries born from the proceeds of slavery. Horribly slavery could not merely be abolished for the inhuman evil it was, the British taxpayer had to pay the slave owners millions of pounds in compensation.
In Britain we fetishise private ownership and so successive governments are happy to sell the assets that belong to the people to private enterprise for a fraction of their worth, however whenever a private asset like the coal mines or railways has been taken into public ownership the previous owner, like the slavers, have been royally compensated, ironically some of them were descended from those same slavers.
This year the Tories in the UK Parliament thought it great fun to laugh at Cromwell’s enslavement of Scots who were shipped out to the Caribbean plantations, but given the rabid racism of their election campaign, it was hardly surprising. As an Irishman, thousands of whose countrymen were shipped as slaves to the West Indies by Cromwell, I find nothing amusing in slavery. However when all is said and done Cromwell has one thing to commend him, he executed a king. A commoner executing royalty set a precedent for the Jacobins and the Bolshevics to follow. In the debate about EVEL in the Commons when the SNP claimed the People were sovereign, but Dominic Grieve, the former Attourney General made it clear that the people are subservient to the Queen and Parliament.
But by what right does the Queen rule over us? The Crowns of the United Kingdom owe nothing to the democratic will of the people they were taken by force. As for this Queen, even if one accepts the principle of hereditary monarchy, her family came to power by usurpation of the legitimate king, the Crown under which the Kingdoms were united was not hers, although her usurping ancestors united the Parliaments.
The Queen’s right to rule comes from her ancestors’ theft of the reigns of power from those who in turn stole it by force from their predecessors at least one of whom was buried under a carpark in Leicester. Her rule does not depend on right, or justice it depends on force. Neither does much of the ownership of land, wealth and property in this country rest on any sort of right or justice. In Scotland the great estates were the outcome of the clan lands being conferred on the clan chief when enobled by the king in a move to bring the country into conformity with European models. The great estates south of the border were conferred on their followers by whichever king they supported at whichever time they supported him, the people who worked the land were little better than slaves transferred from one lord to another. And of course our banks and industries were built upon slavery and not upon any sort of honest or moral foundation. The only right the Queen, our landowners, industrialists and bankers have to their property is that of possession.
The majority of people own only themselves and their labour, but this government wants to remove from the worker even the ownership of his own body by effectively denying him the right to withold his labour in protest against unjust working conditions. Our industries were built on slavery and the Conservative government wants them to return to slavery. The worker who puts into a company is as deserving of the produce of that company as the heir of slavery who invests in the company as his forbears invested in slavery. No, the worker is more deserving because what he contributes is his own not stolen from others, his body, his own labour, unlike the product of exploitation or usury provided by the investors.
The British have been whipped so long into submission that they believe they must be slaves, those who are supposed to represent them refuse to oppose the burden of austerity laid upon them, choosing rather to accept the lies of slavers in return for their comfortable Westminster sinecures. British workers have a choice and they must make it for themselves; will they bow the knee to the Tory descendents of slave owners and expropriators of wealth and remain slaves themselves, or will they take back the country which is theirs by right of birth or adoption, but above all by right of participation? They are no lesser men than the bankers and businessmen who exploit them, they are no lesser men than the parliamentarians who abuse them, there is not one Briton who is in any way inferior to the Royalty artificially raised over them. This country belongs to its people and its people should take it back!
Yesterday I said to a friend that that the first depression is never as bad as the second, because the second shows you that no matter how often you come through it, it can come back. I joked that I sometimes envy the bi-polar because at least they get highs in between the lows, but perhaps they would argue that the higher you soar the greater the crash. The bottom line is that staring an oncoming depression in the face is almost as bad as being hit by it.
I woke yesterday with that depression that always lurks on the periphery of my consciousness reminding me it hadn’t deserted me. It is rarely a big thing that brings on my depression, but rather, an accumulation of little things accompanied by a voice telling me that all this is pointless. So there were the aches as I pulled myself out of bed and the increasingly noticeable veins in my legs reminding me that in any realistic chronology, I am securely into the second half of my life. And the voice asking what I have to show for my years. Outside my window the midsummer sky was grey and the garden wet with rain, and I found myself wondering if I will make any real progress with getting my garden into shape before the winter comes. Experts tell us not to cut mow our lawns when the grass is wet, but the day before I could wait no longer and mowed the damp grass, now it didn’t look as if I would ever get to mow dry grass; the weedkiller washes off the weeds before they get a chance to absorb it and so I hand weed, knowing the roots I leave behind will furnish more of the same within weeks, if not days, and again the little voice reminds me how pointless it all is.
I look at my writing projects with depression reading over my shoulder and whispering that I am not a writer, that no one will ever read what I write and if they do they won’t like it. And so the flow is gone and typing is a struggle, a slow struggle as my fingers type a word order my brain knows is wrong, very wrong. I keep backspacing and retyping, it’s so slow and tedious and the voices tell me I am wasting my time. Voices? Yes, now there’s more than one and they are discussing me without having the decency to go out of earshot of my mind’s ear. All the time I stare at my keyboard another voice is urging me to catch up on tidying that I know will never be complete until the day I just give up trying to sort things and ruthlessly dump roomfuls of accumulated history and knowledge. I ask myself why am I carrying on?
I carry on because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate, I’ve been there. The call of the pit may have a horrible fascination, but just as previous depressions have told me I am not immune from further depression they also remind me of why I will not return willingly into hell. Familiarity warns me when depression is bracing itself to swallow me, I know what to look for and I know when to fight. Yesterday I had a Skype call prearranged with a friend, isolation is depression’s ally so connection is essential, my daughter visited for a little while as well. No amount of social media can replace another’s face to fill the emptiness. All day long I kept busy, studying, reading, writing, housework, getting into the air between showers. Today is not great, but it’s better than yesterday. One thing I have learnt is to be grateful for even small things, everyday I record my gratitude in my journal, some days that awareness, that there is always something for which to be grateful, is the only thing that stops me going under, a life belt against a ‘sea of troubles’. Every day, one day at a time.
I do not know what tomorrow may bring. I know that there will be challenges, I am aware I need to find some solidity beneath me, I know I will not sink willingly however tired I get of struggling. Depression may want to embrace me, but I’m not fucking giving in! I had hoped this blog would be more upbeat and positive, affirming that depression can be overcome; it can, I’ve done it, again and again and I will not give in now. I suppose my message is depression can be beaten, but be ready to fight, don’t be afraid to cry for help and don’t leave it too late. Today is the day to fight, I shall not sit and weep at the grey sky, I shall go out in the rain, so there! Fuck you depression, fuck you sideways, just fuck right off, go directly to fuck, do not pass fucking ‘Go’ do not collect two hundred fucking pounds, I am not fucking playing! I can do this!