WHY FRIENDSHIP NEEDS MORE.

I remember a man who used to do the gardens at a place where I lived who told me that he used to have a Chinese girlfriend who was a doctor back in China. His mother, who was very racist, told him, “Don’t bring her here! Your father fought those people!” To which his father replied, “What are you talking about?! I didn’t fight the Chinese, I fought the Japanese!”

“They’re all the same!”

“No, they’re not! And anyway, under different circumstances, I’d have probably had a beer with them.”

My own mother is the same as his mother, in a lot of ways. One example being when I saw one Chinese doctor who wasn’t very good and when I wanted to try another one, she asked me if I wanted one just the same! Well, here’s a point to note: there are plenty of Australian doctors who are just as bad as that one, and I’ve seen several!

Two were disgusting neurologists, neither of whom really deserve an article written on them.

The one I saw who claimed that men and women could never be just friends, and shouldn’t be, has also written a book that is basically a plea for everyone to be friends, needs to observe a few realities. One, you’ll never live in a world where everybody will agree with everything. A plea to avoid violence and war, fair enough, but wanting everyone to be friends is going to far. Two, friendships develop for various reasons, the most important of which is, on a one to one basis, it’s not just shared interests and the like but because two people want to be friends with each other. And, three, there has to be a sharing of more than just interests, namely values.

Someone whose article I read on why autistic people might not necessarily get along suggested I write this article and that I am intending to. Two autistic people may have a common diagnosis, but just like you say, if you’ve one autistic person you’ve met one autistic person, if you’ve met one Australian; you’ve met one Australian. If you’ve met one Japanese; you’ve met one Japanese.

Two autistic people can have diametrically opposed political values for starters. They say that politics shouldn’t come between people, but let’s say you have two Australians, one of whom is a One Nation voter and one of whom, like me, wouldn’t vote One Nation even after hell froze over, the political platform of that party, one whose leader is divisive, is something upon which either you agree or you disagree. If you support multiculturalism (okay, its Queensland State Member does not oppose multiculturalism, per se), humanity for refugees, oppose gun ownership (I personally believe that unless you are in the armed forces or the police force, a farmer (in a remote community) or a sporting shooter, there is no need for you to own a gun. And if you are sporting shooter, unlike where I say you are autistic 24–7, you should be able to join a gun club, go to the pistol or rifle range, at a time when it suits you, and that may be for two hours on a Saturday afternoon, take your gun out of the safe there, do some target practice and then lock your gun away in a secure safe and leave it there and forget about it until next time. There should be no need for you to have a gun at home) and support marriage equality, the UN and LGBTIQA rights, then you are hardly likely to have any shared values with a One Nation supporter! So, a friendship is unlikely unless you suppress your true self!

Two people can like the same make of car and be in a car club, but if they don’t share the same political values, they might not have any common ground other than a car club and it might be, “Fred and I go to the same car club; we’re not friends.”

There are, also, different levels of friendship. Okay, some might say that the milk vendor can’t be your friend, and I say, “Okay, if you live by yourself and the milk vendor is the only person you consistently see, and every time they come, they say hello, fair enough. But if Hello is the only word you exchange, then you don’t know anything about them.” I also say, it depends upon how much a person absorbs and remembers about you. I remember my Year Eight English teacher saying that his grandmother, a quite elderly lady, hated ATMs, because after over 40 years of going to the bank and chatting to the tellers asking how their families were, the thought of having to go to a machine was anathema. If the bank teller thinks, “Oh, here’s Mrs Smith, again.” And says, “Hello, Mrs Smith, how are you, today? How did your grandson get on with this?” that’s a sort of a friend. If the bank teller remembers nothing of you, then no.

One thing that I will say to people before they say, “Oh, you saw that person out and about and they had no idea who you were, so they’re not a friend,” is this. Some people may not recognise you if they see you in a different context, not because they’re rude, not because they don’t like you, but because of this. Say, for instance, they are a hairdresser and if they see you in the supermarket they think, “Um, who’s this?” but if you walk into their shop, they know you straightaway, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re rude or after your money, it’s just that they associate you with being a client. Or, they may have facial blindness. Okay, I knew a woman who worked at a supermarket and if you went to her register, she’d say hello, but if you saw her and she was shopping, she’d turn away from you. She was known for that sort of behaviour and was even rude to other staff members. I say that there’s no need for that.

The fact of the matter is, autistic people are like any others. Not all people who like Fords will get on well, not all people from the one country will get along well (that’s the thing about war; you could end up serving alongside someone with whom you share nothing and be firing on people who, under different have had a beer with) and not all autistic people will share the same values, opinions and beliefs. I mean, let’s look at two of the three Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Islam. Christianity is divided into Catholics and Protestants, and amongst Protestants, there are Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Uniting Church, Mormons, Scientologists, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventists (they attend church of a Saturday, not Sunday), and Muslims can be Sufi, Yazidi, Sunni, Shi’ite and so on. And amongst those, sometimes a Catholic and a Protestant may get on better than two Catholics. Why? Because if religion is important to both it can provide a glue, whereas if one Catholic attends Mass everyday and twice on Sunday and one attends Mass at Christmas and Easter and when they feel like it, there’s a different level of commitment. Similarly, some autistic people can be proudly and openly autistic, while others don’t like talking about it.

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.