Tag Archives: advocacy

How We Fight

Wild One 101
From Ciarán of Ailbhe’s Nine

Some learn to become indifferent to pain until they fight without thought. They learn how to lose themselves (their ability to feel, the essence of who they are, their sense of being) in order to win. The cost of this is high, for the selves they defend are the very same they so easily abandoned. Their eyes go vacant or hard or unseeing. They are trained to deny much of their own human being, and so likewise cannot see those they fall as flesh and blood and bone. They choose an inner death before their life is ended, believing it makes them better able to survive. It is unknown what continues to exist after such a fight is done, even in a victory.

But we learn to fight with our aliveness. The power within us forged in the fire of feeling. Our eyes are clear and wakeful, whether full of sorrow or laughter– compassion and passion being as they are two sides of a soul. We live our humanity fervent and full. We see each other eye to eye, and in the defending of all people, recognize ourselves in all we meet. No one is immune to suffering or grief. But the cries that we utter are always our own, whether of joy or of pain, and always the radiance burning inside. And when we fall, we blaze out each like a pulsing star, a heart that dared to beat with love, until the last spark fades from who we are.

***************
My own thoughts:

I’ve been having a very hard time putting anything into words regarding how I feel about living in a nation that seems to have been swallowed up by fear, prejudice, hatred and greed, perhaps in reverse order. Reading the news is like downing a glass of pesticides every morning and then trying to go about my day hoping I won’t experience any side effects. I’ve been paralyzed by a sense of hopelessness, grief-stricken, incredibly angry, tentatively resolved into taking action, terrified, and sometimes daring to dream all in a day. I’m a philosopher who spent more than a decade learning the rules of reason: all that flooding of feeling recently often leaves me reeling. I’m still trying to learn how to effectively take action without shutting down.

I used to be an avid advocate for the rights of children. I used to daily defend my right to full inclusion, equal access to education, acceptance and regard. And, whenever someone ever suggested to me that my perseverance made me a fighter, I’d be sure to defend my definite opinion to the contrary. To me, the purpose of advocacy was to build bridges, while the purpose of fighting was to burn bridges and erect walls, and the winner would be the fastest. I thought advocacy was strategic and thoughtful, but fighting was inherently destructive and usually violent. Advocacy resolved conflicts, fighting created them. That was a lot of black and white thinking.

We’re now faced with a situation in this country where our supposed leaders want to build walls, and the most effective way to resist is to fight: for compassion rather than hatred, for freedom over fear, for dialogue over discrimination, for human rights, for healthcare, for immigrants and their families, for people rather than profits and for healing rather than division.

I believe now that when people used to tell me I was a fighter, I honestly had no idea what they meant by that. I am discovering that I have so much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

I am learning how compassion is as fierce as it is gentle, and is more powerful than fear, stronger than the deepest shame. I’m learning how wholeness is always in each of us, and that division is only as effective as the deception behind its appearance. I’m gradually accepting the fact that maybe, perhaps, I know how to fight for myself and for others… I just need to learn a new paradigm for how to go about it more effectively. I’m learning to trust more, to listen more, and to share, speak up, more.

I am not finding sharing these thoughts to be easy for me, at all. But I’m starting with where I am at, and that’s enough for now. I’m sure there will be many more insights from my ancient family to post as well, as I keep learning, so I will be sharing more from them here, too.

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Forget-Me-Nots

Dear broken little boy
We’re sorry you’ve been molested and abused
Your priest said he did nothing wrong
But nobody should ever have to be used

We hope that you don’t mind
That he’s now preaching down the street
All of his acquaintances
Swear he’s really nice to meet.

Dear shaken little girl
We’re sorry someone caused you to go blind
You didn’t see long anyway,
I’m sure that you’ll adjust just fine

Your nanny’s gone to work with other kids,
We Hope you have no problem with it
The very minimum of charges against her have been filed
We prayed for her soul, she didn’t mean to be unkind.

Dear battered woman, dear shattered man
Dear victims of slavery, misogyny,
Those estranged from their homeland
Your government and social worker’s done all they can

We’ve issued an apology
But don’t think sorry
Means we understand.

We’re glad that nothing like this ever happened to us,
We hope that you can cope
And act like nothing is amiss
Whoever did the things they did to you
Might be tried and caught, but probably not.

There are not enough resources,
Or people who care
If while you grew up,
Love was just not there,

We hope it won’t affect
The way you do your job.
You’re an inspiration,

Here’s a get well card
From the corporate mob:
Your reparation,A bundle of roses
But no forget-me-nots.

Dear grieving teenage mom who could not have her child
We hope that this experience turned you off from living wild
And your endless sorrow has convinced you that abortion’s always  wrong
You should have been strong and kept your baby alive.

We’re the ones who warned you with our “educational” signs
Depicting four dismembered infants above the slogan “right to life,”
We’re just looking out for unborn children we don’t want them to die
Just don’t ask us to protect them, that’s all done on your time.

And while we cause a scene and tell you how to live your life,
We cut funds for schools and childcare and we still sleep through the night.
Once the children are born, we’ve won our fight,
Especially when they’re disabled or poor—remember, working is their right.

We’re glad that nothing like this ever happened to us,
We hope that you can cope, come home to the god in whom we trust
Whatever the circumstances
A man just never was at fault, absolutely not.

There are not enough resources
Or people who care.
With nothing growing inside you,
How could love still be there?

We hope it won’t affect the way you feel about God’s Word
You’re an inspiration,
Here’s a get well card from the evangelical herd:
Your reparation, a bundle of roses
But no forget-me-nots.

No forget-me-nots,
Because it’s safer to forget,
But what’s remembered lives,
And I cannot forget you.

No forget-me-nots,
Because then we could not forget
That what’s remembered lives–
And I could not forget you.

Go out and smell the roses but don’t grab fistfuls of thorns
Whatever we ignore leaves its red stains,
Its sharp pains,
Its stark remains upon our hands.

I will take your hand,
Wipe the tears from your eyes,
Forget you not.

Dear child of this universe
A lifetime in every cell,
The world shines with your radiance
Though you’re just here to be yourself.

And all that you’ve been through,
A testament to strength
While you lived or you died fighting,
It never was in vain.

Love is not a thing
That you can win
Or force or gain.

Dear tentative night traveler
Who’s never felt at home,
Hope is not outdated,
Nor is empathy outgrown,

And there will still be wonder
Long after you make your life your own.
You let the feared wolf hunger
And the loving wolf has won.

There’s no need to run for cover,
You’re safe here,
And you are not alone.

We know being human happens to every one of us
Through the pain and darkness, hope shines everywhere we touch.
Whatever your circumstances,
It won’t always be easy, absolutely not.

It’s hard to find the resources but most of us do care,
Dreams will grow inside you and love is always there.
You will find yourself again along a spiral stair,
And realize there’s so much laughter, and joy, and tears to share.

You’re an inspiration just because you dare
To breathe your spirit of life into everything you are,
No matter when or where.

Don’t bother with the reparations:
What could they be for?
When you’re already whole and forgiveness won’t keep score,
Half-baked gestures of apologies just won’t fool you anymore.

Life’s not just a bed of roses–
A door that opens often closes,
But if you find yourself outside,
Don’t just stand there looking in.
What’s remembered lives, I’ll forget you not.

Inclusive Spaces Where Disability Is Simply Forgotten

Jim LeBrecht is a highly successful businessman.  He also has a disability.  You can find him on facebook here: ! <https://www.facebook.com/JimLeBrecht/posts/10152206635136182

 

<https://www.facebook.com/JimLeBrecht/posts/10152206635136182>

 

I resonated so much with his post that I’ve reblogged it below.  In this increasingly global world where inclusion is more often than not bantered about in business and professional circles, it is astounding how often disability is simply left out of the picture.  , Comments welcome.  Jim’s words follow. Unfortunately I have spent 40 minutes trying to make a blockquote with a screen reader to no avail, so just imagine that the text is quoted. Yes, this is ironically an issue of inclusion happening right here, right now.

I’ve started a conversation with a friend and came up with this thought that I want to share:

When you tout your workshop as being inclusive so that you can spread your knowledge about being an entrepreneur to underserved communities and you hold it up a flight of stairs, then you do more harm than good. Especially when you tell the group there that it’s more expensive to find a place that is wheelchair accessible. The attendees, some of whom will build businesses won’t see the qualified and smart folks with disabilities in the class with them. They won’t meet the people that have to improvise everyday and are good at problem solving on the spot. They didn’t have me there, the guy using the wheelchair that has run his own business for 18 years and has been a manager for over 30 years.

When you make an educational video that shows the harm of stereotypes in your profession and you don’t include one person with a disability, you tacitly say that it’s not important to include those with disabilities. Someone forgot to include us in the script. Why does that happen? The filmmaker is a wonderful, talented and very progressive person. I love that filmmaker. Will that person hate me for posting this if they see it?

When you build your urban farm but don’t put in a ramp to your offices, as much as you say you are for inclusion, I only see it as a slap in the face and a barrier for people like me to participate. I’m not wanted there.

What have we been fighting for all these years if the excuse is that they forgot to include us? Or that the money for access was better spent elsewhere.

It’s not hard how to figure out how to include us in your world. Think about how you want to be treated and then apply it to us. I’d like to sit in a wonderful location when I go to the movies. Well, put the handicapped seating there, not in the back of the theater where the latecomers come and go and the lobby noise destroys the film. (A special shout out to the wonderful Castro Theater).

 

Raise the money for the ramp so that you can afford to pay for a ramp and the health coverage of your employees.

 

Look around and see who is underrepresented and ask yourself why. And then ask how you can change the status quo.

 

I want my lawyer to understand my world. Will he or she understand if they don’t have a disability or of there is no one on their staff that can provide the needed perspective of my community? Are the disabled part of the bar association’s plan for improving diversity?

 

I want my doctor to be smarter about my disability because they have had to live with one themselves.

 

And I want to stop living in fear that if I ask for too much that I’ll be shut out of working at a facility that can make my career better than ever. I’ll be asking this later this week at a meeting. And it worries me. Is my talent and contribution going to be seen as a bigger asset than the cost of making a screening room a place where I can sit in the middle of the theater?

 

This fear won’t go away until people stop looking at inclusion as a problem to be dealt with. And I’m not saying that it should be done because it’s the right thing. It’s not about morality. It’s about doing the smart thing. It’s about being willing to invite everyone into your world so that you can both learn from each other. Can we look at inclusion as something positive where you find you are unearthing wonderful people and fresh ideas?

 

As my friend Lawrence Carter-Long <https://www.facebook.com/LawrenceCarterLong>  says, “Nothing Without Us.