Having Asperger Syndrome, I tend (by nature rather than spite) to be legalistic. I do not choose this route; I am simply being mind-blind. I think others will naturally like all the same things I like or believe as I do.
I can become defensive toward someone if they express that they “hate” something I love. I react this way, because I see it as a personal attack. Usually this is not the case at all. Someone simply has a different taste in music, movies or holds a belief contrary to mine because they are different than me. My getting defensive and refusing to accept their beliefs is a fast track to losing a relationship.
(*)Legalism (noun): Strict, literal or excessive conformity to law or moral code.
An example of legalism would be me sounding off on someone who was vehemently opposed to gay marriage. Yelling and sending sarcastic comments to them just makes for another relationship ended (a good friend, not a new acquaintance! See my blog on what not to say in new relationships).
Legalism thinks, “I am right and only I can be right!” Legalism says, “You are lesser than I for thinking/believing differently than me.”
I am very sorry to say that I have encountered a fair deal of legalism when communicating with some people on the autism spectrum. I have had to confront my own legalistic thinking that tries to tell me that all people who tell me off are horrible people. Part of this is having Asperger’s; the other is a result of being severely bullied during my middle and high-school years. I have had to learn through therapy, family support and faith that there is such a color as gray (and it comes in more than fifty shades!) I thought that seemed a bit daunting at first. Black is one color and white another. 2 is a good number, easy to keep track of, right? It turns out that in real life this is not the case for reasons already stated.
(**)Sarcasm (noun): a cutting or contemptuous remark.
A neighbor to legalism is sarcasm. Let me explain. Legalism hurts because it makes snap judgments. Often times, when a sharp or cutting remark is made on top of the judgment, it is like pouring salt into a fresh wound. Legalism and sarcasm are catalysts.
Sarcasm thinks, “As if you could possibly be right!” Sarcasm says, “As if you really have any worth or value as a human being!”
Life is too short not to enjoy it and do so with other people. Doing that requires “gray” thinking. Don’t be daunted by this metaphorical phrase. Simply put it into use by being open toward others; their views, beliefs, likes & dislikes.
Here is an aside: if someone you meet and get to know turns out to be a member of a hate group or tells you their favorite pastime is pornography, this is a time to make use of your other friend, common sense. If you know a person engaged in such activities, I advise telling them calmly that interest in activities that demean or look down on others is wrong and you cannot support that. They might not change; each sober-minded person is accountable for themselves. If you are of a faith, you can pray for the person, but then you need to let go and move on (did I mention there are an estimated 7 billion people on the earth? That is a lot of people!
We on the autism spectrum as a growing minority must take the high road. Don’t try and beat your hurt feelings by joining in with the person who hurt you. You may wish to pray for them (though your feelings at the moment tell you otherwise). You might wish to simply say “That wasn’t very nice.” If they defend themselves using legalistic thinking and sarcastic words, let them have at it-but don’t reply. A fire without fuel dies sooner or later. On social media such as Google+, which I use, you may have to block a few people. Never tolerate harassment and bullying from anyone. For each person I have to block, several decent people take their place. Summed up, life goes on. I hope you choose to spend it with positive people who in turn cannot do anything less that inspire and encourage you.
Let us be open to people of other beliefs, opinions and ideas. It will not only inspire, but define us as stable, humble, gray people!
* Merriam Webster Dictionary
** Merriam Webster Dictionary