Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Michelle Obama: I'm Tired of Being Afraid

When we choose to get involved in any sort of political activism, whether it's a traditional political campaign or an Internet-based civil rights effort such as the neurodiversity movement, there is always some degree of risk. Change is scary, in and of itself. Publicly speaking out and taking a stand for one's beliefs and values, for a vision of hope and possibility, can be a lot scarier. Many people are going to react negatively because they feel threatened by change. Some of them are going to be quite hostile at first. Occasionally, there will be a bigot who has so little decency that he resorts to nasty underhanded tactics such as insulting the children of his political adversaries. Threats of violence and real-life harassment lurk in the background, breeding a climate of fear.

But we can't give in to that fear. Yes, it may seem easier not to get involved, not to take the risk, not to disrupt our lives and our families—to stay in our comfort zones, our secure little bubbles of everyday life. Yes, it may seem easier to go along with the conventional wisdom of the day, to stay quiet when we don't agree with the popular stereotypes, to keep our heads down and avoid confrontation. When we go through every day of our lives in an environment of fear, oppression, and intimidation, it can be hard for many of us even to recognize that there are other possibilities—that we don't have to live like this.

Not long ago, Michelle Obama, in discussing her husband's presidential campaign, talked about why it's important not to make decisions based on fear. Here's an excerpt from her speech:

...Barack and I talked long and hard about this decision. This wasn't an easy decision for us because we've got two beautiful little girls and we have a wonderful life and everything was going fine and there would have been nothing that would have been more disruptive than a decision to run for President of the United States.

And as more people talked to us about it, I mean the question came up again and again, what people were most concerned about I think was—

they were afraid.

It was fear. Fear again, raising its ugly head in one of the most important decisions that we would make. Fear. Fear of everything. Fear that we might lose. Fear that he might get hurt. Fear that this might get ugly. Fear that it would hurt our family. Fear.

But you know the reason why I said “Yes”? Was because I am tired of being afraid!

I am tired of living in a country where every decision that we have made over the last ten years wasn't for something, but it was because people told us we had to fear something. We had to fear people who looked different from us, fear people who believed in things that were different from us; fear of one another right here in our own back yards—I am so tired of fear and I don’t want my girls to live in a country, in a world, based on fear...

...We have a chance to make something real happen; something possible happen; to live beyond our fear.

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  • Thanks for this post and these words abfh -- a much-needed balm.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 AM  

  • It's unfortunate that one asshole or some assholes have managed to scare off at least two bloggers already. I hope that's the end of it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 PM  

  • Well I would be courageous except I've had threats made already of "having the autism raped out of me", and I think I'm probably much less known than, say, Amanda Baggs. That will teach me to open my mouth.

    Doesn't mean I am not going to keep fighting for our rights, but I'm done with blogging at this point (I had a LiveJournal account, and have de-activated it). Saying things on a public forum has put me in danger and so, call me a coward, but I can't keep fighting if I'm dead, now can I.

    Thanks to all of you on the Autism Hub for your perseverance. Maybe someday it will be safe for me to have an opinion again.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:02 PM  

  • Sigrun, I hope you reported those threats to the police. And no, I wouldn't call you a coward. The slimy creeps who threatened you are the real cowards.

    Best wishes, however you choose to fight.

    By Blogger abfh, at 9:55 PM  

  • Sigrun:

    I don't think anyone here would think that those who need to lie low for the protection of their very lives are being cowardly. You absolutely need to do what you need to do to protect yourself, just as others have needed to protect their children by disappearing for a while and/or going anon. I've had to do both in the past. I really want to encourage you to report the ghastly threat you've received. Thanks for your time at the hub and sorry it was brief. I was finding it interesting reading what was going on in your part of Southern Calif. Please take good care and be safe.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:07 AM  

  • Thanks to both anon and afbh. From a legal standpoint there is not much I can do about an e-mail. However, IRL harassment is another story.

    Even if I have to stop blogging for the time being, for my safety, I am not going to stop doing what I do here locally. I think that I can't be of service if I'm dead, or seriously injured, or even if I'm in chronic stress fending off the latest drama.

    Those of you on the Hub provide a very helpful service and I am glad that I have found these blogs. I'll still keep reading. It's been of a lot of use to me in figuring out that I'm on the autistic spectrum, it's not bad or wrong, and here are ways to maximize the strengths and work around the deficits. I can apply some of that knowledge in the work I do out here. And I'm doing so.

    I made the mistake of posting pictures and location online, somehow to prove that I'm a person and not a sockpuppet account, and that was a rash decision on my part. This is why, for now, my blog has to stay shut down. Even with the pictures and information pulled, so long as they think they haven't "defeated" me, they will keep going. But I'll be fighting, offline. :)

    Thank you :D

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:33 AM  

  • I hope you can post soon again Sigrun.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:20 PM  

  • Accentuate the positive.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:37 PM  

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