Change the Climate!

From when I was about eight years old, we did a project on climate and pollution every year. Our last year of primary school, when we were 11, usually performed a musical for the whole school. Ours was on the plastic soup in the oceans. (It did also claim that because of pollution, no more male merfolk were born so the merpeople were about to die off. I guess, since I haven’t heard anything about them in recent years, that’s what eventually happened?)

 

I am 40 now, so this all took place long before Greta Thunberg was born. Obviously the climate and pollution has been a concern for a considerable time.

 

As someone who keeps a vegetable garden, I definitely notice the change. Whether the current change in climate is 100% the fault of humans, or 75%, or 50% doesn’t really matter all that much; we definitely need to shape up NOW and do something about it. (Seriously, cleaning up after yourself is a good habit to have.)

 

However. (There’s always a ‘however’).

 

Our prime minister was asked how exactly he’s travelling to the Climate talks in Madrid. His reply was that he is going by plane. Of course, this earned him some (well-deserved) scorn, but, one of our news outlets did the math. Travelling by plane from Amsterdam to Madrid takes two hours and costs under a 100 euros one way (apparently our prime minister doesn’t do budget travel, or he could’ve gotten a return ticket for half that price). Travelling by train is more environmentally friendly, but costs well over 300 euros for a one-way ticket and takes a whopping 15 hours.

 

Now, I’m sure our prime minister could’ve afforded the expense of the train journey, and I guess he could’ve brought a laptop or something so he could keep prime ministering from the train.

 

But it does show a problem; that sustainability comes with a rather hefty price ticket. If plane tickets increase 25% in price to compensate for the extra pollution and to deter people from going by plane, all it’s going to do is stop people on *lower* incomes from travelling. Train journeys – in Holland we have a pretty decent network of trains; at least, as long as you don’t want to go to Madrid – are far more expensive and take more time. Unless the increase in plane ticket fees come with a hefty reduction in costs for more environmentally friendly ways of travel, all it will do is make the rich grumble for the ten seconds it takes them to whip out their credit card, and further reduce the mobility of the poor.

 

This doesn’t just apply to travel; for the ladies (men, if you’re squeamish, don’t read) more sustainable products for periods are becoming more available, but they are also an investment. Three cloth sanitary pads cost $30, particularly if you need a larger size, and three is not enough; unless you want to be washing non-stop to get your two spare pads cleaned and dried before you leak through the third, you’d need about a dozen. That means a $120 investment at least.

 

And investments are the very thing that are nearly impossible for low-income families to do. It might be cheaper in the long run, but you need to hand over a large amount of money NOW. Aside from sanitary products, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo are items many low-income families *already* often struggle to afford; the sustainable products are at least four times the costs of the ‘regular’ brands, let alone the budget ones.

 

The ecological footprint of low-income families isn’t that significant compared to large industries and the top 10% income families. The impact of any measures – which most of the time might even be pretty meaningless compared to the totality of the problem of climate change – will affect the lowest income families the most, creating even more inequality and poverty.

 

The fight for climate change has to go hand in hand with the fight for social justice, or we could well end up with a world that may not have been worth the bother of saving.

Change!

Just a notice:

 

After some years of inactivity, I’ve changed this site, both name and topic.

 

While I’m still happily advocating all around for people with disabilities in general and autists in particular, I found it a bit limiting to just stick to that topic for a blog. And since I don’t have the funds to add domains, I’ve changed this one to a more general blog.

 

 

Another update

Hi all.

It’s been a while. I’ve been working on what is now a ‘manuscript’ instead of just a ‘document’ (doesn’t that sound official?) and still learning to live with autism, instead of merely existing.

The most difficult part, I think, is that I know  acknowledge that things are difficult, where before, I just did them. This is undoubtedly confusing for people – I used to do those things and now I’m complaining I find them difficult.

Truth is, I always found them difficult, and ignoring that cost me my happiness and the chance to lead a productive, fulfilling life. Balancing is still tricky to learn, and of course I sometimes do things that I find hard because it is necessary to do them. But I’m learning to plan time off to unwind, and tricks to not make difficult things any more difficult than absolutely necessary. It’s the downside of being diagnosed so late in life, I guess.

I don’t seem to have it in me to become very spiritual. I think I’m sort of okay with that.

Meanwhile, the manuscript is at the end of the ‘first draft’ phase and being read by a couple of people who will provide comments and suggestions for improvement. (I fear getting back a list of ‘throw it out and start over’ comments).

So…that’s about it!

Also, I attended my first Orthodox funeral last week and was struck by the…practicality, intimacy and down-to-earthness of it all, right next to looking towards the resurrection. Even so, I hope not to attend another one.

 

Progress, not Perfection

Hi again.

As promised, an update on the book. Or booklet, really – it’s not very long. I’m quite happy to be able to say that I’m done with a first rough draft. More stories are definitely still welcome, and I hope some more trickle in for the next couple of drafts, but the basic outline is done!

The process was surprisingly emotional, even though I have not yet figured out what kind of emotion. If I ever write a book again, however, I’ll write a fantasy novel or something like that; that ought to be easier than to write on something that a) I am living through and b) has so much potential for saying something completely wrong.

The title of this blog refers to that  – a friend of mine used this as a nickname long ago and it’s how I learned of this expression. It’s what I’m keeping in mind in writing: that I’m seeking to make progress, and perfection is, has to be, still a long way off. I don’t have to get there. That’s not my responsibility, or at least, not mine alone. Making a tiny bit of progress is good enough.

So – again – I’ll invite adults with autism in the Orthodox Church to share their experiences and stories for this book (all contributions will be anonymous, of course, never fear) and I hope in the end I’ll be able to say I’ve helped make a little bit of progress.

 

 

 

 

A Short Note

A short note to let you all know why I haven’t been posting lately.

Well…the thing is…I’m sort of accidentally writing a book.

Only a tiny one, mind. But I reworked a lot of these blogs, added bits, restructured bits, asked for advice, and, there you have it. Halfway through writing a book.

Actually, it is quite self-serving. I am hoping that by writing a short booklet for orthodox adults with autism, other people will take up where I leave off, and write the dozens of books I wanted to read, but couldn’t, because they don’t exist.

Also, I’m looking for stories, experiences, weird/funny/odd questions you get asked about autism, things you do to make your life in church easier, things you do that have improved your spiritual life (or things that definitely didn’t). If you are willing to share and let me use it in this book, I’ll be very grateful. Leave a comment with your email and I’ll get back to you. Think of it as an opportunity to share, for us with one another, but also with your non-autistic fellow parishioners, on what things are like for you. After all, how will they know if we don’t try and explain?

 

 

 

It’s not a problem, it’s a challenge! *ugh*

That title is just bullshit, don’t you think? (pardon my French). Of course some things are just problems. They’re annoying, they’re painful, they’re standing in the way.  (For a further, excellent, exploration of this, see David Mitchells Soapbox)

Our autism provides us with some strengths, but we’d be crazy to deny it also causes problems.

Still, when it comes down to it, there is a grain of truth in the expression.

We HAVE been given unique opportunities. People around us cause us near constant pain and confusion, to which they are either oblivious or indifferent. Only very rarely will we encounter someone willing to accommodate us.

That means we live in an almost permanent state of being forced to forgive people who are not in the least remorseful. We live in an almost permanent state of not knowing what’s next, forcing us to rely on the only Person who IS constant and reliable.

And because of this, when we do encounter those rare people willing to make an effort, we have all the more reason to be thankful.

So all things considered, maybe we’re not that badly off. We certainly have been provided with loads and loads of practice material on our way to sainthood (whatever route we need to take there).

Also – our own peculiarities provides plenty of practice material for other people, so we contribute quite a lot to their deification process, as well 🙂

Of the above, only the latter comes easily. The other two – forgiving and relying on God – require practice. Especially when our brain difference requires that we take a different and sometimes uncharted road towards that goal.

Let’s explore those uncharted roads. Let’s make roadmaps for future generations, for the children with autism who are growing up. Let’s set aside all those things, excellent and godly though they might be, that do not work for us and make our way to our salvation by finding the ways in which we can.

It’s not just that we owe it to ourselves – a true, if cheesy, sentiment – but we owe it to Christ Who came to save us, came so that we may have life. After all, if there’s *anyone* who has shown Himself willing to make an effort, it’s Him, right?