bookmark_border“No one’s treading on you, sweetie”

Um, yes, someone is. Many people, actually.

I came across this image on Facebook. It was the profile picture of someone who left a bullying and harassing comment on a post about statues.

Contrary to what is claimed in this image, I can think of various ways in which I have been tread upon.

First of all, as an autistic person who wasn’t diagnosed as such until I was 25, I’ve spent the majority of my life being held to the same standards and expectations as a neurotypical person, causing me to be almost constantly stressed and exhausted from trying to live up to standards and expectations that were not realistic for me. 

Growing up, even though I didn’t know that I was autistic, I knew that I was different from other kids, and they knew it too. I was bullied for the way that I talked, the way that I dressed, the way that I did my hair, the music that I listened to, the shows and movies that I liked, the fact that I collected toys, and the fact that I wasn’t good at gym class, sports, or physical activities. 

I was also taught from a young age that each person is required to have friends and to socialize, a belief that I internalized. As a result, I spent countless hours forcing myself to participate in social activities, even though I didn’t enjoy them and would much rather have spent the time engaging in my interests. Having been rejected again and again by my peers, I was unable to say no or to express disagreement with anyone, no matter how inappropriate their behavior or unreasonable their demands, because I didn’t feel that I was in a position to push away any of the few people who were willing to be friends with me. 

Due to these repeated negative experiences with the people around me, I became interested in history, because historical figures were the only people I could relate to. Particularly, I was interested in historical figures who today are frowned upon and misunderstood, historical figures who fought losing battles for unpopular causes. 

Historical figures such as those who fought for the Confederacy. 

After a lifetime of feeling rejected, hurt, criticized, and controlled by the people around me, I was forced to watch helplessly as our society decided, starting in 2020, to obliterate from existence the one thing that I actually liked, the one thing that made my life worth living: the historical figures. I was forced to watch helplessly as statues, monuments, memorials, and holidays honoring the historical figures that I love were destroyed, sometimes violently. After a lifetime of bullying and exclusion, I was forced to watch helplessly as our cities, our parks, our public spaces, our calendars were reconfigured to ensure that I could not feel represented or included. 

And our society declared that it was doing all of this in the name of diversity and inclusion. 

When, in my eyes, nothing could possibly be further from the truth. 

And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that within the past few years, governments at the local, state, and federal level have decided that they should have the power to force people to undergo medical procedures against their will. 

If the totality of what I’ve described doesn’t constitute treading on someone, I’m not sure what does. 

That’s why I like the Gadsden Flag. That’s why it resonates with me. That’s why I display it in my home and use it online, including in the header of this blog.

So yeah, contrary to what is being claimed in the above image, someone is actually treading on me. Multiple “someone’s,” in fact. People have been treading on me in various ways throughout my entire life. 

Frankly, it is disgusting that someone would create, post, and/or use an image like the one above. Doing so is condescending and contemptuous, dismisses the experiences and struggles of other people, and demonstrates a complete lack of empathy. Perhaps the person who created this image, and the people who use it, think that it is somehow clever, or edgy, or funny. But in reality, it is none of those things. In reality, it is mean-spirited, cruel, and idiotic. Using such an image as one’s profile picture is abhorrent and achieves nothing other than proudly broadcasting one’s lack of empathy. And I’m not sure why anyone would consider a lack of empathy something to be proud of.

I choose to display the Gadsden flag in my home and to use it as an avatar online because, as a person who has been tread upon in various ways throughout my life, its message resonates with me. No person should tread on another person. This concept is not a joke. It is not ridiculous. It is the very essence of morality. 

Therefore, the Gadsden Flag is neither a joke, nor ridiculous either. Any person who would treat it as such has no concept of morality and no empathy for other people.