5 min read

Acceptance except when unacceptable.

I'm trying to be less of a hypocrite. [issue 44]
Acceptance except when unacceptable.

hello computer

Recently my wife and I watched the Netflix series 'Cheer'. It's a fly on the wall documentary about a cheerleader group in America. If you suggested that to me I would have ignored it but I'm glad I watched it. The show is about struggles, pain, heartbreak, and overcoming adversity. The people in the group spend months perfecting a 2 minute 15 second routine. They spend months working to establish muscle memory, stamina and the fitness required to do the job. If you see them perform the final piece you see 2:15 of cheerleading and while impressive it's just a 2:15 piece. The documentary makes these people relatable, understandable and people you can empathise with. When one kid gets a shot at being part of the routine you understand why it means the world to them.

By the end of the 6 part show you know people's names and stories. By the end of the show I feel a small amount of guilt for dismissing them. Some of them have been through more in 20 years than I have in 42. I've never been in a real fight or been in jail or felt the tragic loss of someone who had been my entire world. I've never had to deal with those things and then fling myself through the sky like a leaf on the wind.

The show made me think of Chadwick Boseman aka Black Panther from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and went on to star in the biggest movies and the most important MCU films ever. We had no idea he was sick.

Chadwick Boseman out here literally dying in front of us is a HUGE reminder that we never know what battles people are fighting. You don't know what's killing a person. Be kind. Offer grace. Be gentle. Love freely. - Shanita Hubbard

This got me thinking about the idea of acceptance and how I need to be less of a hypocrite. I initially dismissed the idea of watching a show about cheerleading. Why? Preconceptions about cheerleading I guess. It's just young girls covered in diamanté's being pressured by their parents to get on talent show. I needs me some space lasers. Pew pew. Blergh. Stupid stupid stupid me. I was dismissive of peoples' pain and hard work. I dismissed them as individuals and it makes me a hypocrite because I now live a life asking people to accept me for being an autistic person fighting for Neurodiversity. I have an invisible disability I need to make visible in order for people to accept me and others like me.

I'm trying to accept myself and demonstrate to the world that being different is a good thing to be. "Think different." I do. I am. I'm slowly accepting myself, my issues and my strengths. I am different. "Witness me!" I can't be for difference if it only benefits me. That would be like producing a diversity poster with various shades of able bodied white people.

Being autistic means, medically speaking, my brain is different to 99% of everyone else's in the world. I try and live in a world that isn't designed for me. To that end I fight for Neurodiversity. Websters Dictionary defines... what does it define it as?

the concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal and that brain functioning that is not neurotypical should not be stigmatized

Neurodiversity is a recent a term coined in 1998 by Australian sociologist Judy Singer. People who fight for Neurodiversity are fighting for the idea that difference is ok and that what disables us is society. We push and challenge a world designed for 99% of people to make it a place we can thrive in. We ask for acceptance. We fight against the idea of being broken for the idea of being different.

How can I be for all that while skipping over the lives of cheerleaders just because they are "different"? I can't. I failed. No pun intended but I have to accept that failing and grow from it. The kids in Cheer went through so much to get to be who they are today. Their group gave them purpose, focus, friends, family, hardship, adversity, growth and through it all they were accepted for themselves. All they had to do was show up and work hard. Their trainer saw them as her kids. She was protective of them and supported them as best she could. She never judged them.

As Shanita Hubbard said;

"...we never know what battles people are fighting. You don't know what's killing a person. Be kind. Offer grace. Be gentle. Love freely."

Oh I'm not suggesting we should be accepting of everyone. It would be nice to be that zen but impractical. You'd end up forgiving Michael Bay for all those Transformers movies and absolving of their failings because at least they tried. You can't accept everyone. I think you can probably accept most... maybe? It's 2020 so who really knows? Let's be optimistic and say most. (Good handful) 🖖


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