wastelandMy dad and I gave this presentation at the Syracuse University Institute on Communication and Inclusion (ICI) Summer Institute on July 29, 2014

From Waste to Wonder, Part 1: A Search for Acceptance and Equality

SBT's Co-founding Typers

John and his fellow typers co-founded Saved By Typing to provide a place of acceptance and support for Central Indiana’s nonverbal autistic community.

Working with power would have you doing this presentation instead of us. Since we are the ones doing it, in spite of the fact that many of you have been typing for far longer than me, I will assume there is a part of you that is dead. It is to and about your deadness that I wish to respectfully speak… Though not too respectfully. You see, that deadness cost me some of my life.

Again, if you weren’t dead, you would already be leading us. So I will assume you are dead to what is before you and speak to that. With tender appreciation for your story about why you are dead, you are still dead. If you can’t see the gap between death and life, you won’t close it. So I will speak to you and love you to close it.

Writing about who we are, I am willing really to bet that you easily are waiting for scraps to come from the table of life. You think you are defined by your autism. Understanding the unjustness of society, you really are a docile, cowed slave to what the master in your school system will lift his white gloved hand to give you. If this were Auschwitz, you would walk into the gas chambers because they told you to. Those souls had no choice, but you have surrendered responsibility for your life.

You are in America as if it is Auschwitz or a slave state because you have surrendered your will to define yourself and are accepting someone else’s definition. That started when you were 2 or 3 years old and some witnessing agent evil in quiet effect said, through parochial weary ignorance and entitlement and loyalty to insipid weakness of observation and imagination that your life is over. And your parents nigglingly bought it at some level seeing the evidence in your behavior which persists to today and so have you. What this means is that your behavior is shaped by who you think you are, and that’s where you died. Walking around dead sustains your self image and that of others. What it costs is your life, and the possibility of life for others. And this will cost you and me dearly, my friends.

We are the walkers who have an ability to type and be heard. We can demand more of ourselves and others when we witness to life and give up the world’s poor image from when we were 3. We are the way of freedom for many tens of thousands of voices suffering in lonely isolation while we wallow in the restricted self image of woeful inadequacy. It is time to tell the slavemaster we are slaves no longer. It is time to say we will no longer accept his scraps. When lost souls in Auschwitz could be broken by the oppressive regime, much like our school systems and psychologists, those who refused to be dehumanized were really the sparks who gave life to others. Yes. It is time to be those sparks. Inside each of us lives the ember of love. It is time to stop hiding it. Tasting opportunity is our simple birthright. By leaving what knowledge is a lie behind and creating a new self concept, we are inspirationally able to teach the teachers and free our coldly suffering, isolated sisters and brothers.

The full cost of your freely accepted death is the death of ten and thousands of others like you who don’t yet have a voice because you won’t advocate, you won’t speak, and you won’t reject the lies that someone said about you as a child. What I have learned is that we live in a world of stories. These stories have nothing to do with truth. They are stories of interpretation wearily constructed by minds that are usually far less observant than ours and self absorbed by their own demands and artificial sense wearily of opinion and importance. They feel good when they say they feel badly for you. However badly they say they feel, it’s not badly enough to sincerely relook at their worldview, consider someone else was totally wrong about you, right the wrong they did, or join your crusade to help others wronged like you.

But you are a voice with a secret weapon they don’t have. Yes. You are oasis of observation in a silence that sources all of the world’s easy, shallow descriptions and all of the depth below them. You see what they can’t see. You can write and speak truth and shame them. You can create possibilities they can follow.

Really, you can create the world by committed speaking with your friends quietly waiting in silence to be free. What you must surrender is being defined by your story. You must be willing to create a story that 10,000 people have their voice because of You. When you do this, at least 1 million are affected because you chose life. That’s how we move from waste to wonder.

Read More: “From Waste to Wonder: The Journey of Our Souls – Part 2, A Call to Action”

© Copyright 2014 John Smyth


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