Monday, July 14, 2014

Autism Answer: Acceptance And Tolerance, In My Home

I grew up in a home with a comfortable culture of acceptance and tolerance. Different races, neurologies, sexual orientations, and even histories--many of my family members were adopted and came with stories from genres different than our own--made up my family of many siblings and a (mostly) single and dating mom.

This is good! This was a wonderful thing! But it also invited me to see the world with the assumption that acceptance and tolerance were the norm. And though this is also good--allowing me to engage with the world always expecting myself and my loved ones to be treated as valuable equals--it's also a lie that I would have to do mental gymnastics to prove true in many situations.

And then I moved to a small town in Texas. With my hippy ideas, colorful children, and eventually a black husband twenty-three years older than me, I quickly learned that my family is special and that a culture of acceptance and tolerance was less common than I'd imagined. No amount of mental gymnastics, regardless of how limber I might be (and if I'm being honest, I'm not so limber!), could hide the fact that being gay, mixed race, autistic, tree hugging, natural healing, and so much more was something that might challenge people. Honestly, and here my naiveté will show, I believed that stories of proud prejudice were only in the movies.

Luckily I grew up in a home filled with acceptance and tolerance, and so people with a culture of prejudice are valuable and equal in my heart. Living surrounded by such different (and sometimes dangerous) views hasn't changed my mind or made me less open, acceptance and tolerance are still my go-to, but I am much more vocal about my personal reasons and beliefs.

And being accepting doesn't at all mean not asking for change! I have expected, insisted on, and been surprised by so many of the changes in myself over the years that I can ask for and encourage change in the world around me without judgment! I can keep an open mind and take a long, honest look at the change I'm hoping for when it's challenged by others.

Because the culture I grew up in is so different from the culture I live in now, I'm aware of the feelings and confusion and struggle me and my family are for the many people drastically different from us. Because they were that for me. I had to discover and explore and learn their history and beliefs in order to understand, and it took me years. I changed in ways I'm proud of because of it. 

I am excited and curious to see how this culture of acceptance and tolerance in our home, mixed with a less accepting culture in our town, will affect my sons in the long run. They are amazing young men with brilliant ideas and the desire to be purposeful and important in the world. So I know all four of them will shine some kind of amazing light on issues. I adore watching it all evolve and grow!

Like my mom, I create a culture in my home with intention. Unlike my mom, I choose to live in a culture that clashes with my own. So far, I'm loving how it looks on us, and appreciate the rich soil for organic thought that can be found were ideas and beliefs challenge each other.

And when my two oldest sons chose to leave, looking for a culture that was more comfortable, I was also proud--though curious about my own choices. Yet, even then I chose to stay here. Truly, it's good for me--at the moment.

We are one world with a gazillion cultures. I'm choosing mine with intention, while learning from and appreciating the ones I refuse. 

In my home, however, no matter where or when I live, there will be acceptance and tolerance. In my manner, in my words, and in the way I choose to evolve. 

It's my favorite way to live!!!

Living a life of acceptance and tolerance,
it's the most fun for me!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)