Saturday, September 07, 2013

No Excuses: Part Three

Yes, I have something else to say in this matter. And it is a matter that comes up way too often. To be clear and honest, having it come up even once is "way too often." For it to keep happening, for there to be whole web pages dedicated to the lives lost because there are lives shattered and lost is "way too often" by an exponential of "way". And I have something more to say on the matter.

That is the growing war between Families and Self-Advocates. It is a war that is not only devastating and horrible as any other war, leaving useless casualties in its wake, but it is completely self-defeating and purposeless as it is being waged. Instead of growing understanding and co-support, lines get hardened and people get terrorized. Both sides, people. Terrorized on BOTH sides.

The real problem is a misunderstanding of how we both contribute to our common goal: getting people who know nothing of the matter and are in need of education and compassion to move further along on the path to that ultimate goal, acceptance and understanding. If we could achieve that goal, that ultimate understanding that All People Are People- and it is, unfortunately, still a highly radical idea on all fronts- then most of this would go away. It would be so much better in our world, where people would be properly supported, educated, and employed as they needed, and everybody just took others as they are, instead of how they think others and even they themselves should be. Imagine it. Just take a minute to imagine if you could just be you, and get what you needed, and even if people don't like you, they at least understand you. And you, them. Just think about it. Imagine it. That's where we want to be. No, I'm wrong. That is where we need to be.

The job of a self-advocate is daunting. They have the job of helping people understand this concept that all people are people, and it is their very lives that are on the line. They risk everything to rock the boat. They are, understandably and reasonably so, extremely angry. If the world told you that you were subhuman wastes of resources and oxygen, and reminded you of this opinion every single minute of every single day of your life, you'd be angry, too. People deal with anger in many different ways, and self-advocacy is an important one for fixing the problem, at its very core. They are the people who understand, despite being told otherwise all their lives for generations immemorial, that they are people. They are the ones who know it best, and can teach it best. That is their job- to watch and guard their personhood, and communicate it to those who don't understand. And ultimately, that is everybody.

Self-advocates are at a wide variety of places and understandings in themselves, in their roles, and in their methods and reactions. Folks, this is as it should be, and must be. We all must understand that, or we get no where and start masticating ourselves, like Saturn devouring his children. 

The job of a family advocate- usually a parent- is to make sure that personhood is respected and try to translate missed messages between the self-advocates and the ignorant, often hostile people who haven't understood that All People Are People. And parents, like self-advocates, are also fighting that deeply ingrained social lesson, so thoroughly accepted by the followers of Ayn Rand, that some people don't count. Some people are lesser, and trash to be used and tossed. And if they aren't useful and productive, or useful and productive to a certain standard, they are wastes of time, resources, and effort. How thoroughly our society and culture has swallowed this! Yet when you have that loved one in front of you, how incredibly fast you learn how ugly a lie this is. People are people, and they, every single one of them, have worth, value, and deserve respect, love, and support. And we know how hard it can be when you are fighting battles for someone else. Parents and family advocates are angry. Their job is to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and protect the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves, against those who do not understand, and think others are a waste of time. And ultimately... that is everybody.

Rarely is a lesson learned in complete epiphany. It is a process, and parent-advocates are at a variety of stages and places in the learning process. They have a variety of methods and reactions, and a variety of learning styles. As is should and must be. We all must understand that, or we get no where.

Pillorying each other is not going to help. Teaching and learning is a process that takes time, effort, and support of each other. We need to face obstacles that are complex and make sure we all get through this together, as best we can. We will all make mistakes. We need to keep it civil and supportive between ourselves, or we just end up crucifying each other, reinforcing the idea that some people are not worth effort, or time, or resources. It is self-defeating to try to silence other voices.

Self-advocates, keep up the good work. In these times of crisis, keep up your voice. There is no excuse for killing anyone. All people are people. Keep educating, keep pushing, keep making sure the message is out there.

Family-advocates, keep up the good work. In these times of crisis, keep up your voice. There are reasons people become desperate, and until we all understand All people are people, we need to try to strip away the other obstacles that keep our loved ones in the silence. Keep pushing for services and understanding. Keep getting the message out there.

And together, we can get this done. I believe it. Keep the faith.

1 comment:

Chelsea 744 said...

Thank you, joeymom. I hope that these tragic murders open people's eyes to why the "cure autism" mindset is so dangerous. I hope someday that "quiet hands" becomes nothing more than a term in the history book on autistic culture.