Archive for the ‘liberal’ Category
I just started a new job this week. Today was my fifth day of service at the company. Six if you include the interview. Today was the first time there was a single word spoken in reference to my wheelchair. I am greatly enthused by this. The only reason it even came up today was because we went on a little lunch-hour field trip across town and I carpooled with my supervisor. She needed to know how best to disassemble the above-mentioned chair. I don’t remember it even coming up yesterday when she offered to let me ride in her car.
Some of you people may not realize how seriously big this is. To celebrate, before we got in the car to go back to our office, when she made a sarcastic crack about having to fit my wheelchair in her car, I broke the ice open completely and shot back “I can’t help it I’m a cripple!” I don’t know why, but that is my idea of fun.
For anyone who has been in a wheelchair since birth, as a result of a maturing process, natural adjustment and development of sense of self, there comes a time when the thought that you are “in a wheelchair” does work it’s way to the background of your consciousness. I have never been particularly conscious of my wheelchair. Not since my turbulent teen years, social pressures, dramas and traumas, all that. But I also know that in the past four years, meditation has helped to expedite this personal evolution.
In meditation, one becomes aware of that which lies beyond the thoughts. There comes a time when one can actually see himself observing the thoughts from a separate, neutral corner. As a method of “turning off” the mind, one finds that he is not merely the sum total of his thoughts. And as long as that is true, then he certainly is much more than his body. One finds, eventually that the mind, – and more importantly for the purpose of this blog posting – the body, are tools of the true Self. That being the case, one holds a much healthier opinion of these tools.
Throughout this process, one should see self image improved. Self-image is different from ego. Meditation is a way of neutralizing the ego and its negative influence on our decision-making, thereby freeing Self-image to encourage, enlighten and inform our actions, and enrich our lives.
What could be better for a person who is often defined by those around him by the condition of his body and what it can NOT do?
As Memorial Day comes and passes again tomorrow, I know I will be hearing a lot of slogans and speeches about supporting our troops. And I whole-heartedly agree. But I get the feeling that a lot of times holidays such as Memorial Day are days meant for sentimentality and not much else. Sure it is a day of remembrance for the fallen. But what about remembering those who gave and lived to tell about it? I know the term “memorial” suggests those who have passed, but it also suggests “remembering.”
We can remember what our troops gave by helping those who came back with disabilities a chance to remain a vital part of our society. There are a lot of programs like Veterans Employment at VA.gov, or militaryvetjobs.com or Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) that are dedicated to helping our soldiers come home with, literally, something to come home to. A job. A purpose. Income. Hope. Please support these and organizations like them.
I know that many are concerned that this is an extension of “Affirmative Action”. I am not a veteran but I am disabled. And I have struggled with obtaining employment in the past. I have said before that I don’t want to get a job just because I am disabled. I want to be qualified. But remember the military qualifies soldiers in a vast array of areas of potential employment. They may come home disoriented by the struggle to cope with their new bodily circumstances, shall we say, but they have been trained to be successful in whatever they do.
Supporting veterans in their search for employment upon arrival back home may be the most patriotic thing one can do.
1. It supports the newly returned soldier.
2. It helps to keep our economy running by keeping jobs filled.
3. It keeps the deficit from rising when injured soldiers come home to a disability check.
4. And, often overlooked, think of how morale will rise among troops who are still on duty overseas, when word gets around that a movement has begun back home, that they don’t have to worry about how they would support their family should they become injured in the line of duty.
Before I tell this story, I think that though it probably goes without saying, it would be prudent of me to note that not everybody with a disability has a sense of humor about it. So if you are a walkie and you know someone disabled, my advice would be just to really know your friend, don’t go thinking that anything goes. I’ve already told you about some of the things I personally don’t like, on this blog.
At work I sit next to a guy who I have only known for about a month but we’ve gotten to know each other well, and he is already well aware that I don’t really have boundaries when it comes to jokes about my disability. Or so he thought!
He’d made some jokes throughout the night about it tonight, and I joked back. At the end of the night as we were leaving, he made another crack, and in a moment of inspiration, I turned to him and I said “that’s not funny.”
He said “It isn’t?”, still smiling at his cleverness, and assuming I was joking.
I said “No. I mean I have a sense of humor, but come on, grow up.”
His face went dark, and he said “Seriously?” I said “Yes, seriously.”
“I’m sorry, bad joke,” he said, trying desperately to back-track. ” Did I cross the line?”
Now, I don’t consider myself a cruel person. As such, I could only let this go on for so long. I cracked. And so did he.
“I can’t believe I fell for that!” he groaned. I assured him that I didn’t think he really believed me anyway, because I’d already made it so clear that nothing was sacred when it came to the disability. And the way he’d said “Seriously”, he looked like he thought he’d just been zapped into another dimension.
Anyway, I love it when my night at work ends on a high note like that.
Below is a link to a story about LaKay Roberts, a child with cerebral palsy who is physically able to use a walker. But her school is trying to ban her from using it, citing concerns that she will fall in the hall and get hurt. I am in a wheelchair but when I was in school, I was able to strap in to a full body brace and use a walker. And I fell occasionally. But that was the worst that happened. Because you know what I did after I fell? I got up. When I was in school and I had my daily physical therapy session which included my “walking” in my braces and walker/crutches, I had a therapist or teacher or classmate who walked with me. Are you telling me this school can’t afford to give that much to this child so that she might have the opportunity to develop a certain degree of independence. Independence does not come easy. It requires that we first depend on another. That we have someone to lean on, someone to help us up when we fall. Because as we strive for independence, it will inevitably happen. We fall. But we get back up. And when we do, we are that much closer to freedom.
Here is the link to which I am referring. Let me know what you think.
A new survey reveals that 2/3 of Americans say that “able-bodied” people parking in “Handicapped” parking spaces is amongst their top driving pet peeves. Surely a hefty percentage of that 2/3 are not people who would have needed that parking space. Surely most of them are able-bodied. So this, to me, is a great sign of the expanded consciousness of Americans – a sign that we as a country are looking out for each other. I assume we always have been but when much of the news reveals the selfishness and consumerism of Americans, this is really refreshing to me.
It is a very sad thing to see that your country was the inspiration for one aspect of one of the most horrific acts of “ethnic cleansing” in human history. But it is true. As Anderson Cooper reported tonight on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″, the Nazis took inspiration for their program of forced sterilization of Jews from the United States Government. The U.S. reportedly sterilized many thousands of people who were considered weak or not fit to procreate, including many with various types of what we would today merely call disabilities, but back then they were just defective quasi-humans, apparently. See the full story here.