Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

I love the quote “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants” from Isaac Newton. There is inherent humility of that sentiment, but it’s more than that. I relate to it because I am fortunate enough to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Yesterday, after my post about the misguided #silentselfie campaign, I flagged the event to some of the giants that I know. They helped in their epic way with the result that the campaign was shut down. While the shutting down of the campaign meant that we were silenced, it also meant that we had achieved something. We stopped another “awareness!!!” campaign that would further marginalise us. I could never have achieved that on my own. Most likely, I would not have had the courage to address it on my own. Getting guidance and help from those who have been doing this for a lot longer than I have was essential. I needed to know that my reaction to the campaign was representative of the greater Autistic community.

If I had commented on it alone, I would have looked like one single cranky autistic person. I would have been ignored. Perhaps, I could have blogged about it, but done nothing more, and that wouldn’t have achieved anything either.

I don’t want to be a single autistic voice blogging away without ever acknowledging the people I learn from. They are the giants in my community. If I do that, then I am not representing the Autistic community. I am only representing my own opinion. So, I try wherever possible to check with my community that my thoughts align with theirs. I try wherever possible to link back to those who have gone before me. This is so that readers can see that I am not just one blogger rambling on about Autistic community. My ideas are not solely my own. My ideas are based on the giants that are already present in our awesome culture.

But, what upsets me is that sometimes people don’t acknowledge our giants. There are bloggers who write from a position of authority when they do not have the experience nor the expertise.

Yes, I believe that being Autistic means that I have experience that non-autistic people do not have. But, my personal experience is not the sum total of what I know. I have learned and I will continue to learn from those who I consider to be my giants. We get upset when people talk for us. It would be a disservice to my community to position myself as authority without  acknowledging my giants. I would be talking for them, and that is not my role. That is not my position. I am not the authority. No one is. We all have our own part to play, and we all need to ensure that we’re doing it together. I need to ensure that I write for the benefit of all of us, rather than just for my own benefit.

Who are my giants?

You’re probably wondering who I do consider to be my giants, so here are four:

That’s not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination. But, those are a few of the giants whose shoulders I stand on. I am fortunate to be able to stand on their shoulders because I would not be able to see as far as I do if I was pretending to do this on my own.

Update 17/12/2018: I’m only still in contact with one person mentioned in the list above; however, I learned a lot from all of them which is why I’m leaving that list intact.