A word on oppressors & advocacy

Any company, agency,  government, school, healthcare provider, individual, who seeks to minimize the voice of those they claim to serve is an oppressor. To be fair, some get caught up in group-think and find themselves supporting decisions, methods, laws, protocols, directives that oppress a group or groups of individuals. Others know bloody well what they are doing. Some oppress out of a palpable dislike for those they claim to serve, while others do so because those they serve, people with disabilities (PWD) for example, are little more than revenue streams in their eyes. Moreover, PWD have been used as fodder for those who revel in the sewage of arrogant self-aggrandizement.

The question is, a willful oppressor or an oppressor out of ignorance, or, equally relevant, out of fear? Fear of reprisal if he, she, or they hold the oppressors accountable. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was absolutely right when he said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Back in 2008 I lost all income and all employment because I would not remain silent when a particular New York State health care provider, a Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver provider to be exact, was denying the rights of those participating in the program in part by community-based warehousing. In other words, put as many difference services on the shoulders of the program participant so you can bill (make money) as much as possible. It was made very clear to me that I needed to go along to get along or lose everything (meaning, in this instance, all my income and healthcare coverage). I chose that latter.

I knew then, just as I do now, that real human rights advocacy (as opposed to lip-service advocacy) can be a bloody business. If you are the real deal on the advocacy front you’re in good company: Mandela, King, Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, Malcom X, Medgar Evers, Harvey Milk, Elie Wiesel, Simon Wiesenthal, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Frederick Douglass, Malala Yousafzai, just to name a few.  All of the aforementioned paid dearly for their advocacy. Loss of freedom, loss of life. So, when it comes down to it, any price I may have paid pales in comparison.

It seems to me the job, if you will, of any real human rights advocate, is to, by any non-violent means necessary, drag the oppression and the oppressors into the open, and hold them accountable.

Recently I was pondering a column about accountability. I found myself wearing a rather large smile when several thesauruses listed accountable and responsible as synonyms. I know  a few oppressors who, on the one hand, would, with misplaced pride and predictable defiance, say they do their jobs responsibly. Yet the moment you hold them accountable,  these folks would slither under a rocks with remarkable speed and spit out venomous accusations of unfairness at those holding them accountable.

Oh well.

Posted in advocacy, disability rights advocates, disabilty rights, human rights, LGBT | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s all about love

I like and am grateful for the part of me that cries while watching movies like the one I watched this morning, for the third or four time, “Love Actually.” I needed a break from a patch of particularly grueling and somewhat consuming writing. A beautiful break it was too! I still have the tear streaked cheeks to prove it.

This 2003 British movie directed by Richard Curtis and too many delightful (and really good) actors to name is, some would say, sentimental, certainly romantic, maybe even corny….but you know what? I love sentimental and I love romantic and I love corny.  And, I love watching people’s dreams come true. It makes me, in a word, happy. Love is always part of happy.

Love answers to its own timing. It is not beholden to any age group or economic class or culture and it cannot be fabricated. Like sunlight and moonlight, love really is everywhere.

To the skeptics and naysayers who poo-poo this kind of thing, who think it or label  as somehow being less worthy, of less artistic value, say, than a movie of gut-wrenching content and proportions, I say, Phooey!

Love and dreams coming true are as much a part of life as anything else. And, like love, I don’t  for a moment think creativity is beholden to any age group, economic class, or culture. It cannot be fabricated. Creativity answers to its own timing – just like love.

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No more pipe dreams: a sketch in words

There was almost a gentleness to knowing the balance of his life had come down to nothing but the words he wrote on a page. Nothing, more or less, save, of course, for the blessedly endless supply of books to read. Such was his love of reading that he knew, in the end, if he was aware of its arrival, a deep ache-sadness at not having read all he’d wanted to read would be present.

Not sad, so much, this truth. So many around him seemingly spinning in place or out of control (held up to the light at the right angle this could indeed be redundant) in their misery. The chase for the material, gullible minds digesting to the point of blind and foolish faith that wealth meant joy and happiness. In short, pipe dreams.

Leaning back in his chair with a cup of tea, a brief and admittedly cursory self-examination led him to conclude he was free of pipe dreams.

No more pipe dreams. Reality for me, he thought.

Posted in bibliophiles, hope, philosophy, prose, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Walkin’ whisper dreams

Walk me soft stepping rhythm

Someone sees shifting soft

Times worth knowing

Chanting up the drive

Walkin’ whisper dreams

*

Sadness fades early morning’s

Hinting sun blooms shape shifting

Love dancing on the bridge sings

Hope comes rising

Walkin’ whisper dreams

*

Deep bass drives soul center true

Treble ripples  surface waters

Waves split blue gray white

Spread grains of sand walkers

Walkin’ whisper dreams

*

Dreams knocking on distant doors

Where secrets still hidden

Beg for freedom’s freedom

Beyond history’s call I’m

Walkin’ whisper dreams

*

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Loyalty in the cross hairs

Nothing unique in saying the beginning of a year is a time of reflection, planning, gauging possibilities, setting a goal or two, among other things. For reasons I’m not inclined to study closely, I found myself thinking about a conversation  I once had with a close friend of mine. Obviously the following is not verbatim, but it certainly captures the essence of things.

Close friend: Why do you stay loyal to people that are not in your life and have in one way or another wounded you?

Me: Well, I don’t stay loyal to everyone who has been in my life but the ones you are talking about are people who, if one knew their history, have been badly wounded in life. Parents dying way too soon, spouse dying, a victims of violent crime, abuse, and so on. It’s not lost on me how desperate one can become when all hell breaks loose so I let them know, if that happens, I’ll be there.

CF: But some of these folks have been pretty nasty to you. Callous, flat out mean at times.

Me: That doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely care about them. Also, the fact I’d help someone in no way means I’ll let them back into my personal life. Only if they own their wounding treatment of me and apologize would I consider that.

CF: But still, why the loyalty?

Me: Because few if any are all one thing. And the few people I retain this loyalty for have qualities to their character that in my mind make them rather extraordinary. I care about them. Having said that, they’d be foolish – anyone would be, actually – to mistake my niceness or my compassion for weakness. I won’t put up with nastiness or dishonesty aimed at me. Doesn’t matter who’s doing the aiming.

CF: But wouldn’t you feel taken advantage of?

Me: The thing is, it’s not about me, it’s about someone getting through a patch of hell in their life. I’ve been on my own, completely on my own, since I was 15. Facing the trauma life dishes out alone is brutal. If one of these people were in crisis and reached out to me, I’d find turning my back on them far more unbearable to live with than helping them.

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