The reason most people can’t become activists

When I started my blog over 4  years ago, I was encouraged and even praised for saying the things that people could relate and agree with. It was encouraging and spurred me on to post more.  But it wasn’t long before little dark spots began to seep through the light. More and more people would hate me, for no apparent reason. They’d argue with me about one topic while I was talking about a whole other topic and be totally confused as to how there ever came to be an argument.

Over the last year especially, I feel like a boxer in the ring, never getting a timeout in between rounds, having to keep my feet moving the whole time all the time keeping my defenses up at the same time.

The more people that become aware of my activism and more so, of me, the more people there is on the opposite side of the boxing ring that are taking swings at me.

There are people that are just looking for fights. They aren’t bad people, they’re just angry. It will not matter at all what you try to discuss, they will pick a fight with you. As I said, sometimes it leads to them arguing about your topic by introducing a whole other topic that has no business being involved in the discussion at all except to serve the purpose of being a reason to fight.

Worst of all though are the bullies. The people that are jealous of what you do, what you’ve become and who you are. If you find yourself on the television news because you are making such a positive difference in people’s lives, you can be sure that you will inherit a whole new group of low life bullies that seek out your Facebook page, your email address, phone number and more. And why? Because you are doing something nice? Because you’re helping people?

I kind of look at activism in much the same way as gambling. You take a big risk putting yourself out there and in the beginning, you get a few small wins. Those wins make you think that you really have a shot at doing well. So you start putting in more time and taking bigger risks. Eventually though, you start wondering if all those wins are really worth it when you start to realize that the deeper you get, the better the chances are that you’ll lose it all.

You can see this happen with celebrities. No matter how well loved or celebrated they may be, by the entire world it seems, they will still always have a very vocal group of people that want nothing more than to cut that celebrity down and make them feel terrible. There’s no reason for it, or at least I should say, no logical reason that I would ever see. I am sure those people have their reasons but I make no effort to understand nor share in those reasons.

When I started my Minecraft server to help children with autism and their families, I became a huge target of this. The more people that knew my name, the more I would receive emails, phone calls, friend requests and more… and not to be my friend neither. It was to send me threats or terrible messages.

I don’t often speak or write about it but the truth is, the more that I get recognized, the more I get targeted by bad people.

Over the last year I’ve heard from many children with autism saying that they wish to do the same as I have done, or even more. And while I admire that in them and I applaud them for wanting to do good in this world, a part of me fears for them. I know what is awaiting them if they were to try do something grand, something wonderful. What’s waiting for them isn’t so wonderful.

I sit and watch as someone shares on Facebook how they do something wonderful in their community to make sure that people that are going hungry will get food donations… I watch as praise comes in for a while until eventually the conversation spirals out of control and turns into arguments and turmoil and eventually this person doing this great thing is left wondering what they just got themselves into.

It’s important to remind yourself, if you blog, run a program, do charity work or any other sort of activism, it’s worth it.

The people you help are a very real tangible thing. That’s progress, that’s a change in the world. That’s something.

People that try to upset you, anger you, fight with you or just be a terrible human being in general, that’s nothing. That’s not real. That’s a tiny little thing in the world coming from a tiny little person.

Over time, with enough of them doing it long enough, it can become overwhelming and we question what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and if we can do it any longer but the truth is… we really can.

That one terrible person may shout louder than the 100 great people that are supporting you but it’s still just one person out of a hundred. You must never lose sight of the big picture and that big picture is bigger than you, it’s bigger than the terrible people in the world… it is the world.

Keep your head up, keep walking passed the haters.

And if you can’t, help someone that can. Stay behind the scenes, there’s no shame in that.

So long as progress is made, so long as a difference is being made.

Never let one terrible person stop you from all the good you can do.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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7 Responses to The reason most people can’t become activists

  1. Patricia August 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Thanks for this, Stuart. I’m working on a website – my own little bit of advocacy/activism. It’s autistic-centric/neurodiversity based. I specifically have a “tough issues” page, because they need to be acknowledge. I may take some heat for it, but knowing that there are people like you, and autistic bloggers that hold tight to the 100 when the 1 is loud, that will help when that 1 shows up. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Autism Mom August 21, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I appreciate you. My son appreciates you. We are very grateful for you. It is as simple as that.

  3. Ellis August 21, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    All excellent advice, as well as inspiring, we in our infancy have already felt the tongue lashing from just such a self centered individual, whom I believe has a mutual dislike of Autcraft and SafeCraft, and not because of any actual intellectual reason, just one of simple jealousy and hatred, I did what you advised, put my head up high, ignored the rant, and sat back to get on with what it was we set out to do, Keep up the sterling effort Stuart, I am a strong believer in the theory that good will always win over evil, stay strong and aim true, and never doubt the impact your efforts have on some fantastic peoples lives. Good Luck.

  4. Lori August 22, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    You have no idea how timely this is. I have been an autism advocate all of my 45 years- although I didn’t realise it until my sons came along. My brother wasn’t labelled autistic, back then it was simply, and erroneously ‘mentally retarded’. I too now write as a way to advocate. I’ve done the lobbying of gov officials, started up programs, etc, but have found in the last year that writing in my blog, Days of Whine and Rosè, is where I seem to be able to make the most impact in terms of awareness, advocacy and simply connecting. The first time I was attacked it astonished me, as it came solely from within the asd community, and the attacks were horrible. PMs attacking every possible aspect of my life, wishing death upon my children and more, simply for posting a guide for parents on how to be prepared when your child is going through crisis. And there have been many ,many more. Sometimes the weight of the attacks can be too much to bear. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet, a person feels free to unleash their anger at the world on someone who to them is just a name on a computer screen. And frankly it usually has nothing to do with what you actually wrote, and everything to do with their need to attack someone, anyone, at that moment. But that doesn’t make it any easier to take. Tonight I posted an article about Asperger’s Disorder in the past being misdiagnosed as ADHD (happened to my own son) and the attacks again flew. Its been a rough few weeks in my Autism Household and tonight those attacks have left me battered and bruised and ready to give up. I am actually sitting here crying as I type. But to know someone else is going through it too, and sees the good in what we are doing, gives me the strength to get through til tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this particular post on this particular night. You’ll never know just how much it helped keep me from falling into the bottomless pit of depression these attacks can cause. It truly is cyber bullying, but because we are writing publicly available articles, some people think we are asking for it. I honestly can’t see how anyone could ask for the attacks either of us have faced, especially when all we do is advocate. To know I am not alone is worth more than anything. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for saving me, and Days of Whine and Rosè tonight!XO

  5. Full Spectrum Mama August 28, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Yes: 1. You are totally appreciated!

    Yes 2. It IS Scary and sad!

    Yes 3: or sisterhood/brotherhood 3: I cannot keep silent either. I know it would be a lot easier for certain local parents and institutions if I did…but then what??? This is for my son and all the kids like him on the spectrum and like him in being “different”…so they don’t have to feel “less than” or “tolerated”. Do i sometimes feel like people wish i would shut up? Sure. Will I? No.

    Thanks for this.

  6. Cassie (@CassieFeathrbed) August 31, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    I used to self-advocate for myself, many years ago. But eventually it all became too stressful. Notorious anti-vaxxers attacked me all the time for even daring to be myself, and tell my story. One even told me to kill myself, and I listened to him, it convinced me at a time I was vulnerable. Thankfully I’m still here.

    I do self-advocate again. But it’s no longer on the big scale I used to do it on, I can’t handle it.

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