What is the Correct Level of Fear?

Right now, Greta Thunberg is on a boat on the open ocean, sailing for NY harbor. I guess I feel an undeserved kinship to her. I don’t know her at all, but I feel like I get why she is doing this. I too, have felt the existential crisis that climate change suggests. I too, worry about my carbon footprint.

She’s been on my radar for a while, so I get to witness the shift as the rest of the world sits up and takes notice. This boat trip has spurred a great deal of personal attacks. A sort of milestone – the day your efforts earn you enemies. But instead of the regular misogynistic bullshit, these attacks are hitting me closer to home. Greta is autistic. So suddenly she is “deeply disturbed.”

Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun says, “Her intense fear of the climate is not surprising from someone with disorders which intensify fears.”

‘Disorders which intensify fears.’ Um, yes, I am familiar with those. But it is so fucking, well… neurotypical, to assume that you are experiencing the correct level of fear.

I think a lot about autism – why I am the way I am. What is the evolutionary benefit to these traits? I mean, the analytical thinking, the technical skills, the creativity are obvious enough. But the anxiety, what is the point of that?

What I find, time and time again, is that my brain is wired for crisis. As long as things in life run smoothly, I struggle. I run a million what-if scenarios that are never gonna happen. And they wear me down. But how do I deal with actual crisis? When the only choice is forward? When my apartment burned down, I handled it like a boss. When the shit hits the fan, I’m there and I’m ready. Because I’ve basically been expecting it to hit the fan all along.

But climate change isn’t just pessimism. This is the overwhelming consensus of the word’s scientists. We are entering the greatest crisis humanity has ever seen. I expect to spend the next 20 years watching the world burn. I expect to see people running around with their heads cut off, crying “How could this ever happen??” Um… because we have been telling you this would happen for decades?

So if you rag on me for being afraid of the grocery store, okay fine, I see your point. My brain can be a bit frustrating to work with. But rag on me, rag on her, for this?? The one time our fear is real? Justified? Serving it’s purpose? This is why we have to suffer through the endless assault to our senses at the grocery store, the parade, the local watering hole. Because our brain is fine tuned, perfected, to deal with the horrible shit that is going to happen, making it oversensitive to the mundane stuff in between.

The weird part is, if she succeeds, no one will really know. How bad it would have gotten if we hadn’t stopped it in time. The curse of the doomsayer is that you are either proven wrong or you get… doom. So, Andrew Bolt, I hope you are right, because it gives us enough time to start actually fixing societal problems. Like why a grown man was paid to belittle a teenage girl who is literally trying to save the world. We have our work cut out for us with folks like you! But most likely we will never get around to fixing that. We just don’t have time any more. I’d say my money is on disaster, but it won’t be of much use to me if I’m right.

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1 Comment

  1. Ferocious Cub, your blog will soon be added to our Actually Autistic Blogs List (anautismobserver.wordpress.com). Please click on the “How do you want your blog listed?” link at the top of that site to customize your blog’s description on the list (or to decline).
    Thank you.
    Judy (An Autism Observer)

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