This dynamic happens a lot with autistic or otherwise socially-marginalized people:
- You’re not treated as fully real, for your whole life
- And you don’t even realize it, because it’s pervasive. You don’t know that it’s possible to be treated as real. You don’t know this isn’t normal.
And then you discover a group of people who seem to approve of you
- They’re an ideological group, and they approve of anyone who shares their ideology
- And their ideology seems plausible, or valuable, or good
- And it has some concepts that allow you to understand things you never understood before
- And you adopt the ideology
- You’re accepted into the group. In a way you’ve never been accepted before.
- And they treat you more like a real person than anyone else has before
- And you yourself *feel* more real than you ever felt before
And so you throw yourself into the ideology
- Passionately, completely, and sincerely
- And you care deeply about understanding it, and using the concepts, and doing good and right
- And so you work really hard
- And then, eventually, this pulls you away from the ideology
- Because you learn something, or notice something, that the ideology doesn’t cover
- And that makes you a heretic
- And you lose your standing in the group
And then they stop treating you as real. And then you wonder if you are real, if maybe you’re just not good enough for anything. And then maybe you find another ideological group, and it repeats over and over and over. Because you think the problem is that you just haven’t found the right ideology, and that if you find the right one, it won’t fall apart.
Until you realize that, actually, you were real the whole time. And that groups that only think their members are real people are never going to solve the problem. And that when they treat anyone as non-real, it’s a threat to you, too. Because you have to think everyone is real, because everyone *is* real. And seeing people as unpeople is always destructive.
And then you realize that the world is both better and worse than you thought it was. Worse, because there’s no ideological group that will solve everything, but the awful things the ideological groups notice are often true. Better, because everyone is already real, and genuine respect between people is already possible. Because you don’t have to wait for a revolution to be a person, and neither does anyone else.