This week, one of our instrumentalists – a wonderful, talented guy who happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome – quit. Nobody’s heard from him. Nobody knows what happened, but everyone suspects that someone, somewhere, said something wounding.
It’s hard to hear something negative. It hurts. But it’s important to remember that the negative person does not speak for the group. I know for a fact that our orchestra is thrilled to have our friend sharing his musical talent with us.
On the other hand, why is it so hard to speak positively?
Perhaps if we’d been more open and encouraging, he might not have left us. Perhaps, if someone had caught the negative comment, he or she might have gained the courage to stand up and counteract it.
I can’t help but think of our Asperger children who go through these moments at school all the time.
One bully, or bully-in-the-making, stands up and says something demeaning/negative/discouraging. Everyone else says nothing. Regardless of how they feel. It gives the impression of universal condemnation, even if that’s nowhere near the case.
Once upon a time, I, too, would have said nothing.
It’s hard to stand up and defend others. It’s hard to gain the courage and decide to create conflict. I admire, and always have admired, those who can just laugh or say something casual to defuse the entire situation.
I want to be that person. The defuser. The one socially talented enough to defuse and lighten situations. I think most of us would like that gift.
But sometimes the best some of us can do is to approach the victim later, and let them know how we feel. To support and encourage them.
And it makes a difference. Sometimes that’s all it takes; just one friendly face in a crowd, or just one smile in a classroom.
For our children, and for the adults – really anyone – who struggle or feel “different”, please keep in mind that the nay-sayers do NOT speak for all of us. Not even remotely.
There are good people out there. The silent well-wishers exist. And when you leave, or transfer, or decide it isn’t worth it… you are missed.