The autism movement is at a cross-roads. Many of the families I’ve spoken with can feel it as well. We’re divided, leaderless, fighting amongst ourselves for scant resources, and arguing over petty differences. So much like it was 234 years ago for a few men on the east coast of America. Today, we should pause and think of what we can learn from the founding of this great nation, and the spirit that created it.
It’s important to take time to reflect on what really transpired this day when 56 men, irregardless of the their race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status, signed a document knowing full well that by committing this one act of treason, they were signing their death warrant. They had everything to lose. Yet, these men held firm to this new Enlightenment idea that authority and power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that Liberty and Rights reside within the natural order of the world and can not be granted by other men. After trying to talk with King George for dozens of years, they could no longer continue, as Dr. King would say almost 200 years later, “to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”
Penned by Thomas Jefferson, who passed away on this day in 1826, it spoke to the heart of a new yearning within the race of mankind, which for thousands of years had existed in the wallows of tyranny, subject to the whims of power and force. Today, we honor these men who were willing to put their life on the line for something bigger then themselves, to know that their story was but one thread of the larger movement, and that as Patrick Henry had said but a few years earlier, “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”
Happy Birthday America! For all those families affected by autism out there, we will continue our fight with the inspiration of those that came before us. For our movement, how much gradualism is enough? Will there be allies who come to fight on our behalf? We must have faith that it will. It happened for America, and over time, for nearly all it’s people. Yet, let us remember that what we are fighting for is much larger than ourselves. Our time is coming like a rolling thunder, and America will have to face us and our families in the eye and listen to what we’ve been saying for so long. Those that came before us walked on faith that this would happen and so must we.
So, let us never forget those beautiful words, spoken with a spirit that few people speak today, and be thankful that in America, at least we have an opportunity to change the world for the better:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.