Monday, February 17, 2014

God, Society and Autism: Can you assimilate the anger? Do you even want to try?

I have written on occasion about the anger inherent in learning that your child has an autism spectrum disorder. Whether you rail against injustice, nature,  God or man's disrespect for the environment, you know that your child did nothing in their short little lives to deserve having to deal with a developmental disability. You know that you have done nothing so evil that God should feel fit to punish you through your child. Yes, we all have had moments when we sin, afterall that is what makes us human, our fallibility. Yet with the overabundance of evil in this world, you could possible chalk your sins up to a missive or an oopsie daisy on the scale of the things that would piss off the Almighty. So at some point we make our peace with God, or sometimes we don't, that of course is a personal decision. Personally, while I remember the exact moment I let go of my anger at God, it happened to be a Yom Kippur years ago during a illness scare I went through, I have not forgiven him for the trials he decided to put my sons through.

I think one of the most annoying statements people tend to say to you when they are confronted with your reality is,  "God only gives you what you can handle." But those of us who live in the world of special needs actually understands that no, no he does not. Sometimes he pushes you to the breaking point and as a human being you do break. We are not all Jacob fighting the angel of God through the night and winning. We cannot all be renamed Israel, God's chosen. We are not all prophets being able to assimilate the meaning of visions or understanding the purposes of God.

In all honesty I think at times, God is just an ass if he really exists at all. For that I point to the story of Job. Betting the devil that Job would not abandon him and allowing the devil to destroy Job's life is a real putz move. To think that God's abandonment of Job is forgiven simply because Job can be given more money, and another family is ridiculous. All that is new doesn't bring back or remove the heartache and devastation that God permitted.  In my book anyone who continues to believe in, or honor someone, or something, that is so abusive towards  those they love and gave life (for God gave humanity life) needs a good therapist and some self-esteem therapy.

There may be the concept of free will, but I have yet to meet anyone of quality who wishes disease, death and terror on the innocent. I know that Christianity, unlike Judaism, assuages this human need for an answer by creating an explicit afterlife, where those who are truly evil spend eternity in hell, and those with pure souls, especially the children go to live with God. Sorry, but that just doesn't suffice. And not simply because I am Jewish. The idea that a loving God would be so cruel doesn't fit in with my purposes of human existence. It is the lazy person's way to answer that which is unanswerable. It is the lazy way of dealing with the idea that God is simply at times a real schmuck.

I am tired of people telling me not to blame God for evil. Oh and don't tell me about the devil either. They are merely  different sides of the same coin. An unreasonable answer to unanswerable questions. The idea that God made mankind and that mankind is solely responsible for the outcomes of their lives, but we are still beholden to this omnipotent being is illogical. The reality is that human beings are responsible for the choices they make and for the lives they lead. You can pray all you want, but there is no answer forth coming that you do not create yourself. Society chooses which path it is going to take, and a God, or God, has nothing to do with it. So I see no reason to worry what God has to say on the matter of choices.

Then of course comes the next level of anger which is completely directed at society. When we started our family's journey through the world of autism it was not easy. Society was cruel. The world that we had built for our family crumbled and those around us were the reason. The schools, the synagogues, the doctors and even the civil rights groups abandoned our child and considered him unworthy of their largess. It is hard to remember those days. It is hard to forgive those adults who thought nothing of being evil to a very disabled little boy. Sometimes I dream that they actually would be rewarded with the life that they deserve. But I doubt it. I don't think in many ways life works that way. It's almost as if the more evil you are, the more sought after aspects of life, life gives you. When you have former Nazis collaborators who become billionaires, who actually control the politics and attitudes of societies, while manipulating monetary policies, you know for a fact that there is no justice in this world. When oligarchs, tyrants and mass murderers walk away unpunished, while running human rights committees and actually get to redefine human rights for the world, you know there is no justice in this world. When terrorists are lauded as saviors, heroes, given stipends and have towns in Europe named for them you know that evil wins.

It's the same with those that bullied MrGS in school. They went on to good schools, college and sports scholarships and even national acclaim on occasion. It is difficult to watch these horrible people be lauded as some great human being when deep down inside you know just how despicable they happen to be. And no I don't forgive them because they were simply children or teens. By the time you are old enough to drive you know enough about right from wrong and know enough not to be cruel. When a teen chooses cruelty that is who they are and who they will always be. (The enlightenment of the character of Penny on The Big Bang Theory, when she understands finally that she was a bully, is not reality. It is the wishful thinking of some hopeful parents that is all.) You know these bullies will be showered with money, friends, jobs and the protection of society with ease. Meanwhile, you fight for everything you child has and continue to fight for their rights to just be considered human.

This is actually where I have trouble assimilating the anger.  I know it does me no good to dwell on how unfair this reality happens to be. I know it does my children no good when I obsess. But would I not be a descent parent if I wanted my children's torturers to be punished in some way for what they did? Not that I have the power to punish those that hurt my sons. OK yes I wish I did. I know every parent understands what I mean. I suppose that is why I always felt closer to the Sith then to the Jedi. Does that make me evil, or does it simply mean I, like everyone else on the planet, including my sons, are human? We want those who hurt us punished and if society doesn't do it, we want to find some way to do it ourselves.

I know ultimately the idea of forgiveness is for your betterment, not for those that hurt the ones you love. But I am not ready to give up that anger. I think channeling the anger helps in many ways to try to prevent society from closing in and taking from the boys their God given right to be considered human beings first and foremost. (Yes I get the irony here. But then again I never said I didn't believe in God, I just think he's a schmuck.) I know channeling that anger makes me a better civil rights defender and a better advocate for the boys. Does channeling the anger make me a better parent? It makes me more protective and more attuned to those who would subvert the boys' progress. It gives me the strength of character to stand up for what I believe in and to push the envelope for them as well. Does it take me from a touchy-feely kind of motherhood? One where I lament and cry and woe-our plight? Thankfully in many ways yes. But it doesn't mean you aren't there to do what is best and right for your children.

In fact I think it directs your energy where it needs to go to do the best by your children. When you let the anger guide you, it means you no longer trust the world around you and when you don't trust society you are never sideswiped by the cruelty and the lack of caring and the hypocrisy. This way you will be strong, ready and prepared to do what you need to do so that your child doesn't actually need society's blessing or largess to exist. Your child's existence will be a positive one not because society has finally decided that they are allowed to be considered people, but because they have been taught how to fight for themselves in the world's arena. You, as the parent, will have given your children that strength of character needed to succeed and strength of purpose to make for themselves the good life that they deserve merely by virtue of their existence as human beings.



Elise