Just because that’s the way it is, doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be

In a tweet earlier today, @Think_Better makes the following suggestion:

Next time someone says, “That’s just the way it is,” try asking, “What would be an alternative?”

It is all too easy to get stuck in the rut of doing things the way they’ve always been done just because that is the way it has always been done.  This one little question can make all the difference, if you just take the time to ask – and answer – it. Just think of the possibilities.

This brought to mind something I wrote back in Aug 08 (on my now shut down 29 Marbles blog) that I thought would be appropriate to repost here.

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That’s just the way it is (but don’t you believe them)

Frequent readers of this blog know that in my attempt to understand autism better, I have a tendency to see connections in things that aren’t always directly related to autism.  A lot of times this will come in the form of a song, a TV show, or a main- or sub-theme in a movie (like the X-Men trilogy).

My post yesterday brought to mind Bruce Hornsby’s (excellent) song, The Way It Is (from the album of the same name).

They say, “Hey little boy you can’t go
Where the others go
‘Cause you don’t look like they do”
Said, “Hey old man
How can you stand to think that way
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules”
He said, son

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them

“Don’t you believe them.”  Don’t listen when someone tells you that you can’t change things, that this is how it was meant to be.  Nothing is “meant to be”, that is the wonder of being human, that we determine what is for ourselves.

Well they passed a law in ‘64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change in another’s mind
When all it sees AT the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is

Note that in the chorus after the last verse, Hornsby never says “don’t you believe them”.  I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but it is definitely true.  You can make a law, you can tell people what they have to do, but you can’t tell them how to think about others.  That takes education, persistence, and persuasion.

And that, I believe, is the challenge we all face in gaining more understanding and acceptance for autistics, indeed for all people who are different.

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When was the last time you asked yourself, or someone else, “Why is it this way? Is there another way that is better?” When is the next time you’ll ask?