Tag Archives: pseudoallies

Information isn’t power on its own, unless it’s used in the right way.

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First an explanation, as much as I can give, about the current situation and why I’m not blogging a lot:

I haven’t had either much to blog about or much capability of blogging lately. Mostly due to not having any time or energy left over, after a bunch of serious offline responsibilities, to take in more information and figure out what to do or say about it in any sort of public manner. I don’t like to post online just for the sake of posting. And I don’t have an ounce of energy or a second of time to waste, I have had to become much more streamlined than I already was. Which was pretty streamlined already.

I also don’t believe in saying anything when I have nothing to say, or when I don’t understand what I’m saying (that habit, which was once a survival thing, has long outlived its welcome and has harmed far more people than just me, and I’m sorry — and I do my best to avoid it at all costs, since nothing good ever comes of it). I do believe that in order to be able to do anything useful, I also need time when I’m not doing public writing, or a lot of public reading in a particular area. This is a brain thing. It works that way and I’ve never been able to stop it from doing so.

My ability to use language has always outstripped my ability to understand it, so more than most people I know, I really need a lot of seemingly unoccupied time to just figure out what’s going on around me. Eventually all the information settles into the back of my head getting more and more detailed as time goes on. Then, eventually, some event triggers a response that uses that information. Can’t pull that response out on purpose, it’s just wasted effort. And I now refuse to just repeat what someone else wants me to say (and I have had a lot of people tell me I really need to publicly talk about whatever their pet subject is, but since I can’t understand them, and/or can’t form words around them, then I can’t say them, end of story). But it will eventually show up when I’m least expecting it.

So some events today have triggered one of those responses. Don’t expect other responses forthcoming just because these ones exist. I still have from no time at all, to at most, two hours of ‘uptime’ for things like this per day, and that’s how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future. If anything takes up too much of that time with no useful return (and I’m the only one who can judge that against a lot of other things that are very important), I’m just not even going to respond. The stakes are too high, and that time is in too much demand already for other things. This is how it has to be, and it’s why I’ve taken on few to no online responsibilities lately.

Also, as I’ve noted many times before: Don’t assume this is about autism. I’m an autistic person, it doesn’t mean that everything I do or care about centers around autism and autism alone. As was pointed out to me again recently — I’m a person who applies values and skills I already have, to autistic people’s situations, as well as lots of other situations I happen to come across. Nothing about the world I currently inhabit has little walls around an “autism section” that I have to stay in.

Anyway, blogging is a way of getting information from one person to the next. It’s one of many ways, but it’s a way to do that. Getting information from one person to the next is a good thing as far as it goes and as far as it’s useful.

But it’s not the only thing required to actually get something done.

Right now, though, my problem is less with bloggers (since I figure, like me, they might be doing a whole lot in the offline world that I can’t see, and I know that, like me, many disabled people find themselves only able to do this stuff), than with organizations.

I’ve seen a lot of organizations in my life. I’ve tried to take part in a lot of organizations in my life. And I’ve gotten pissed off at a lot of organizations in my life.

Because a lot of people seem to think that all you need for an effective organization is some combination of good intentions, a nice website or office, nice letterhead, a board of directors following some utterly standard model of non-profit setups, some money, some office skills, and some means of getting information passed around between a lot of people (conferences, leaflets, newsletters, articles, little booklets, weekly meetings where people sit around and talk, etc.). Bonus points if you can find any rich or famous connections and hold fundraising events. Maybe some trendy liberal protests too, where you can hold up your sign that has nothing to do with the actual substance of the protest (if there was any).

And everything — everything — eventually boils down to that act of passing around as much information — especially proper information — as possible. And, how could I forget, lots of mutual ego-massaging, patting oneself and everyone else around you on the back just for being there.

It’s an entire culture. And it’s a culture I have tried to work within at times because sometimes it’s at least marginally better than doing nothing. But it’s a culture I feel immensely out of place within.

Because it’s empty. Scratch the surface and all the fluff just starts falling apart. There’s nothing left when you really need something done.

I’m one person, with limited mobility, limited energy, and limited time. But if someone asks for my help in an advocacy context, then I will do everything I can to actually help them in some sort of concrete way. The same as I would want if I were in their place. If I can’t help them, I will try my best to find someone who can.

And there’s the problem: Where do I look if I don’t know anyone personally?

I try to find groups of people who are united around the same problems that are happening to the person right then.

And most of the groups I find… they’re not into anything practical. They’re into passing information around in circles, and being very happy with themselves for doing so. And being all proud and weepy-eyed about its mere existence, which mostly just feeds people’s complacency, the same complacency that causes the scandalized growling of “We’re already doing something for you people just by existing, now leave us alone.”

(And thus, many people with far more time, energy, and power than I have, end up failing to use it at all for anything other than reciting the names of other organizations to people (with a hopeful “let’s get this person out of our hair” air), or repeating that, say, if they’re homeless, then a box of pamphlets on how to cook with equipment they don’t even have, would be just as good as a box of food. Wish I were exaggerating.)

The problem in most situations where immediate practical advocacy is needed, is not information. Yes, information is often necessary. No, information is not bad, in and of itself, it can be a very good thing. But it’s a means to an end. It’s not the end itself. The problem in most of these situations is things like power, money, and resources. Not endless workshops, pamphlets, and meetings about how bad the system is, with no actual move towards holding the system accountable for their actions and finding ways to get them to do the right thing.

And I’m in yet another one of those situations. Someone needs practical help navigating this mess, from people who are experienced in actually fighting against all kinds of injustice. But all I can find are these shiny feel-good liberal organizations who, as a friend put it, “…you, me, and [Jane] are too unimportant to be anything other than nuisances to them.”

(And I’ve found that even in organizations that somehow I’m now considered, usually by virtue of CNN or something, important enough to matter to, most of the people I care about aren’t, and are treated quite differently by them than I am. At least to my face. This is frustrating — I can still usually smell the scent of pseudo-organization on them, but it’s no longer as immediately obvious in their treatment of me as when I used to be nobody important to them. So I don’t always get the warning as fast or loud as anyone else does.)

It’d be nice if organizations were groups of people who all, individually, were involved as continuously as possible in making various things happen on a real-world level on a regular basis. And who came together to become more effective in numbers or in diversity of skills, or to learn from each other how to get things done in the real world, even how to use information to make real things happen for real people.

But most of the time they’re just groups of people who all decided one day “Hey, wouldn’t it be great to start an organization dedicated to our pet cause?” And who thought that starting an organization was the same as doing something. And it’s not — no matter how much money, love, dedication, information, and good intentions are poured into an organization, having the organization is not doing nearly enough.

I’ve said that in enough ways, and used up enough of the time that I’ve got to say it within, that I’m going to just leave it at that, even though I haven’t described everything I wanted to. I’ll now return to the regularly-scheduled silence for awhile unless some other situation leaps up and demands to make its way out of my fingers. I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet, just most of my life is not, and can’t be, online right now.

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