1) I am right.
2) It is impossible for rational and educated people to disagree with me.
3) Anyone who disagrees with me is wrong.
4) Whoever disagrees with me must be convinced to agree with me.
5) Whoever cannot be convinced must be forced to agree with me.
Together, these beliefs define the core of fanaticism. Fanatics perpetuate the cycle of intolerance, oppression and bullying that they claim to fight against. They divide the world into so-called ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people – those who agree with them and those who do not. They seek to destroy those who disagree rather than find a solution that includes everyone. While they pursue what they believe to be right, they risk their health, career and lives to create suffering and chaos for everyone else.
The wisdom of the NeuroTypicals tells us that issues related to politics, religion, sexuality and money should not be discussed if people want to remain friends. This is for good reason – while the issues are complex, many people strongly believe that they have simple solutions for handling them. With their ego at stake, quarrels can start easily when people disagree about these solutions.
Free speech is supposed to enable people to develop awareness and have in-depth discussions on how to solve these complex issues by hearing diverse perspectives from people coming from diverse backgrounds. Democracy is supposed to include everyone to actively solve these issues together, with each of us using our strengths and awareness to support each other’s weaknesses and blind spots. A government is supposed to be a mechanism where people can organise and coordinate their efforts to solve these issues.
Yet what happened is the abuse of free speech to attack people and organisations at a personal level to vent personal grudges and unhappiness. What happened is the twisting of democracy as a platform for demanding that one’s personal interests and opinions be prioritised above others’. What happened is the dumping of all responsibilities to the government while people walk away from their obligations and contributions.
The idea that someone has to be wrong for another person to be right, that someone must lose for another person to win, that someone has to reject for another person to be accepted – fanaticism has already divided us by starting with the wrong foundation. Rather than cooperate, we must compete. Rather than unite, we must divide.
When we presume that those in power cannot be trusted, we demand a weak and disunited government that only lasts a few years over a strong and united government which can be entrusted to put decades-long strategic plans into action. When we separate the government from the citizens being governed, we are asking for customer service hell where everyone orders their favourite dishes but no one wants to prepare the dishes and pay the bill.
When we believe in the maturity of people without supporting them to contribute meaningfully, we create a political circus where personality is more important than substance, where winning debates is more important than implementing ideas, where we show that we are better by making others look worse than us.
The world is simple. The problems are simple. The solutions are simple. Destroy any resistance. Implement the solutions at all costs, then problems can then be magically solved.
Fanaticism is the biggest obstacle to inclusion, democracy and world peace. Fanatics attack those who disagree with them, making inclusion impossible. Fanatics seek to promote only their ideologies and beliefs, making meaningful conversations and rational debates impossible. Fanatics promote divisions and mutual hatred, making world peace impossible. The result is a bitter world where people are busy attacking each other while ignoring the problems that need to be solved.
While autistics do not have a monopoly on fanaticism, they are highly predisposed to it. Poor social and communication skills result in a small circle of friends, preventing them from interacting with and learning from people with diverse backgrounds. It also makes them prime targets for bullying, reinforcing a negative view of Humanity and encouraging them to escape from their problems. Besides, executive functioning dysfunction makes it hard for autistics to understand volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous problems plaguing billions of people in many different forms.
Yet the global autism community does not seem to take this threat seriously. If anything, the community has cheered Greta Thunberg for her fanatic views on environmentalism. Warnings about her being used as a figurehead by fanatical environmentalists are quickly dismissed as ableism, making these politically incorrect to mention in public.
By encouraging fanatical tendencies in people already vulnerable to them, such role models provide a terrible example of how to solve problems constructively. They encourage autistics to play with political fire before their wisdom has matured, associate with highly socially savvy people with hidden agendas, and to blindly prescribe simple solutions for complex problems that have baffled many experts. This sets up many autistics to be exploited by savvy manipulators and to face severe disillusionment with Humanity when they finally realise what happened.
The cycle of fanaticism can end with each of us. Knowing how tempting fanaticism is, we must strive to combat it. Firstly, we must become aware of and welcome all the painful and unhappy thoughts we have of the world. Then we have to work on ourselves to bring about peace within us because whatever we experience within us, we create outside of us.
Plant seeds of anger and reap resentment.
Plant seeds of forgiveness and reap empathy.
Plant seeds of hatred and reap oppression.
Plant seeds of sincerity and reap unity.
Plant seeds of wanting and reap dependency.
Plant seeds of responsibility and reap results.
Each of us can learn to solve our problems before we tell others what to do. Each of us can commit to becoming the solution rather than adding to the problem. Each of us can commit to developing the skills and maturity to contribute meaningfully. Each of us can learn not to take things personally when people disagree with us. Each of us can learn to listen and accept the diversity of perspectives including those that we strongly disagree with.
There is no more excuse for jumping to conclusions without bothering to read the full article. There is no more excuse for demanding that people explain themselves to us rather than us taking the first step to try to understand them. There is no more excuse for being an armchair critic who complains but takes no constructive action. There is no more excuse to dismiss criticism as ableism and to use autism itself as an excuse to behave immaturely.
One day, some of us reading this will win the Nobel Peace Prize. One day, some of us reading this will unite all Humanity with everlasting peace. One day, some of us reading this will lead Humanity to the stars. Become one of these people.