Thursday, 22 September 2011

The pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one's opponent - Ghandi

The world, of late, has gone a bit topsy-turvy.

Although it has been in this state for quite some time, the recent riots have brought this to the attention of the world's press who are at a loss for someone to blame and so they are busying themselves blaming everyone. The sad thing is that nothing will change, we'll soon go back to the previous state of ignoring the problems that caused the building tensions to come to a head in the first place and we'll start talking about some celebrities misfortune or terrible tan. (NB: I started writing this a few weeks ago but time ran away from me and in that time the Guardian published this incredibly dismissive yet frighteningly apt article on Big Brother's function as an opiate for the masses in the wake of the riots.)

The state of our society hasn't escaped our autistic 12 year old son, who is confused and frightened by what goes on in the world. His father always listens to the news while we eat our dinner and this simple part of our routine, now induces panic in our boy. Even last night when we travelled home from his grandparents, reports of an attack in the local area sent him pure white and saw him begging us to turn off the radio.

So how do we explain to this our boy? How do we explain that the world as beautiful as it is can also be a frightening, evil place?

So this week I will mostly be pondering that age old conundrum: why do bad things happen to good people?

Now this question is usually posed within the context of wondering whether God exists for kids (and adults possibly). My son doesn't believe in God, so that rules out an explanation bringing divine powers into the equation. I guess it would be easier if he did then I could answer his questions just like they did at my Catholic school with either "Just because" and "It is God's will". Oh gee, thanks that's answered all of my questions! In the context of this question I remember my old (mental) Spanish RE teacher quoting Romans 3:12 and Luke 18:19 that there is no such thing as good people or a good person because only God is good. I remember him banging on about we're all sinners or some crap where no one is guilt free and so if you've as much as stepped on a slug, you're doomed. Huh? Okay...

Philosophers have pondered this question too since time immemorial but it is a giant big fat grey area so not the best for explaining things to someone with as ASD. I could bang on about assigning meaning to things and ask him how do we decide what is good and bad. I could ask him why shouldn't bad things happen to good people and what is evil? I could bang on about free will but all of these would just pickle his brain.

My saving grace (Google!) failed to give me any fodder at all given that the first few pages of results were filled with things like  and

While pondering this conundrum an incident occurred. A and his school friends were followed and attacked when walking home one day. A group of older lads from another nearby school thought it would be funny to follow the guys home, swearing, shouting, kicking and punching them repeatedly during the 1.27mile walk home. Nobody intervened on the street. No adults stopped to challenge the youths and the kids were too frightened to get their phones from their bags and call for help.

A is devastated. He was so frightened during that time that he cried for hours after coming home. Now he is really angry with himself for not having done anything during the attack and for not defending his friends. We're trying to help him understand that there was nothing he could have done and that they did the right thing by ignoring them and carrying on walking. We spend time telling our kids not to react to physical threats, that ignoring bullies will make them go away. What do I say to him when he asked me "Mum, we ignored them but it didn't make them stop, why didn't they go away when we ignored them?"?

I have no answer for why this happened to him and he has begged me to walk him to school. He says he doesn't care if people laugh at him, he just wants to be safe. I just want him to be safe.


  1. You have highlight a valid point and one of which i agree with.
    It sadens me angers me as a mother when I carn't answer either of my childrens questions x

  2. Thanks for your comment Brianne. It does make you feel powerless :(


Thanks for taking the time to comment!