I write to this blog as catharsis with the hopes that my posts will resonate with others. While this may be my personal feelings on life, particularly in regards to my favourite topic of social issues, I gain satisfaction from knowing that perhaps I have reminded people of their own experiences. We’re all in this thing called life together after all.
In order of “more likely to read your blog”, I prioritize “writing insightful posts on topics that interest me” over comments well over follows over likes. Of course, the first one requires me to find your blog first, but I believe just writing good posts is a reward in itself. In regards to comments, I always appreciate a good discussion from which I can learn more about a topic, especially if comments raise counterpoints to what I say. Well, as long as one is interested in a constructive discussion rather than dismissing it off hand. And I do not accept off-topic comments, but I am lenient in tangentially related comments as it may open up new avenues of discussion I wasn’t aware of previously.
And now, to my life story.
Who am I? No one of significance. But a being that bears multiple masks. I am light and dark, joyful and sad, open and secretive, embodying both Bodhisattva and Asura. People are too complicated to be defined by single traits.
Once upon a time, I was born in small town Canada. From an early age, I wanted to understand life, the universe, and everything. And from an early age, I knew that I was not normal. Counselors, teachers, and my parents constantly mentioned my strange behaviour which none of us could understand. Some tried their best to accommodate me. Others merely passed it off as bad or lazy behaviour. Eventually, the condition was revealed to have a name: Asperger’s Syndrome. Even with a name, I did not fully understand it at the time, but then again, autism is still a mystery in many ways.
Like most, I struggled to navigate through the tumultuous rapids of adolescence, only amplified by a faulty social compass. Growing up at the turn of the millennium and the rise of the Internet, a plethora of ideas flooded my mind; not a good combination with the emotional volatility that comes with teenagers. I bullied others under a warped definition of “cool” and was bullied due to my naivete. Growing up in Western culture of Chinese descent, I stood in the intersection of values, trying to reconcile familial devotion with becoming a part of the community. And yet, uncertainty was a benefit. It allowed me to reevaluate what was truly important.
Now residing as an engineering graduate student in a more welcoming, diverse environment and steadily having learned to actively participate in society with my mental disorder in tow. Even with the weight of the present and the challenges of the future awaiting, I am the most confident I’ve been in years.
Above all, sincerity is most important to me. If people are true to themselves, everything else about them comes out naturally, but if they are not, then how can I trust anything else about them? And I have experienced how fake the world can be many times. I had trouble coping with my family issues for many years because I was led to believe the illusion that they were supposed to be endlessly supportive and content in their traditional roles. I’ve learned the ugly truths behind the pretty faces of historical heroes and national myths. I’ve participated in the farce of finding one’s individual identity through cliquish consumerism. And I have honed my bullshit detectors through the power of the scientific method.
Empathy is the other value I hold in high regard. Ironically, it was its absence that taught me to cherish it. Every time the media presented the image of what a “normal” person should be, I was reminded that I was different and that difference was anathema from its frequent caricatures of Asians and the mentally ill, among others. And if you were a Muslim or some other “enemy”, you received even more hate for just being yourself. Even for people going through hard times, in which you would expect to find empathy, it is often lacking. If you were homeless or even abused, to many people, it’s your fault. If you complained about your lot in life, you are often dismissed as an entitled whiner. And that’s why empathy is important; someone has to care, and it only takes one person to make someone not feel alone.
And the third, autonomy. For what good is humanity without the conscious self-determination that separates us from a machine? I don’t believe in human nature. That is the artificial boundary humans impose on themselves, as one who is self-aware should have the initiative to change their own unfavourable nature. The power to change, that is the gift of hope left behind in Pandora’s box, and we should not be bound by prejudices and preconceptions. Many of us are incapable of doing so anyway as it, well, goes against our nature.
I’m a firm believer in Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Of course, most uses of “stupidity” really mean ignorance, and I do believe that most people do not mean harm, but may be misguided because they don’t understand what a person is really going through. You know, what philosophy calls “the problem of other minds”. There are those so stubborn that they will continue to believe in their illusions against mounting evidence to the contrary (the IMF, for instance), but it does cut through most of the cynicism surrounding political and social issues.