Empathetic Resonance

Art of three prancing greyhounds

Little Sarabande 02 (2020) ©Dawn-joy Leong

“It is not my purpose to ‘fix’ what is ‘broken’,
but to empower beauty in the vulnerable and unnoticed.”
(Dawn-joy Leong, 2010)

I am Autistic. No, I do not have a super power. I am simply doing my best to survive in a social system that aggressively alienates and stigmatises my natural embodiment, and to navigate built environments that present terrifying assaults to my finely tuned senses.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with the concept of ‘kinship’. In Asian society, blood ties claim priority over all else, with power to nurture or crush those connected in the human collective called ‘family’. As children, we are taught to trust and obey our elders—parents, grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles—without questioning. They are supposed to love and protect us, and have our best interests at heart. Yet, human history, mythology, religion, traditional and modern stories are liberally peppered with accounts of familial betrayal, abuse, manipulation, domination and even murder.

My journey towards awakening began when I tore away from the oppressive clutches of this behemoth in inexorable pursuit of Selfhood. This emancipation demanded a hefty price. The love and loyalty once declared by people near and dear to me—kith and kin—dissolved into brittle fragments and tangled clumps of betrayal, condemnation, rejection and even bitter vengeance for daring to escape the intricately embellished golden cage.

I am not alone. Autistic people have been stigmatised and abused in horrific ways, subjected to myriad aggressive ‘treatments’ and ‘interventions’ that deny us our humanity. Our organic way of Being is considered an abomination by a social system that punishes anyone considered deviant or non-compliant. Today, more and more Autistic voices are boldly challenging the colonialism of the neurotypical world. But it isn’t only about our own rights to exist; many also speak about humanity’s inextricable kinship with all sentience and materiality in the complex and vibrant ecosystem called the Earth. Thanks to a humble, meek Greyhound called Lucy Like-a-Charm, who showed me the way into Clement Space, I have discovered that 'making kin' is about finding my place in this vast empathic resonance of interconnectivity.

Dawn-joy Leong
Contributor to Making Kin

(From October 30, 2021)

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