A steering committee has begun work on the formation of what is now being called the Kahrmann Center for Human Rights. At first the thought was to call it the Kahrmann Advocacy Center, but the name has now been changed and, given the talent and creativity of those on the committee, may be changed again. I am humbled that this is happening and whole heartedly committed to its cause.
In brief, the Center will be committed to doing its part to make sure all people are able to live in freedom. In many ways living in freedom means being able to be who you are safely in the world you live in. Safely comes with equality. After all, equality and safety are siblings. You can’t have one without the other.
Given my life, and the corner of the world I find my life most connected to, at the moment, I am sure the Center’s first work forays will be into the challenges faced by people who live with disabilities, primarily, at least at the outset, people who live with brain injuries.
Though we don’t pretend to know the all of the solution, the number one complaint I hear from people who live with disabilities is the tendency on the part of many to treat them as if they are children. A brilliant friend of mine who lives in New York City told me recently about being part of a group designed, or, better put, allegedly designed to help people with brain injuries tackle problems in life. The group began when the facilitator, in a voice so sugar-sweet it could catapult a diabetic straight into a coma, clapped her hands and said, “Okay now, we’re here today to discuss problem solving! Who wants to go first?” She was talking to a room full of adults for God sakes!
No doubt one mission will be to assist in helping people figure out that living with a disability, no matter when it enters your life, does not return you to childhood. My closest friend of 35 years lost his legs in Vietnam when he was 19. The war took his legs, not his age.
When it comes to working with people who deal with disabilities in their life, it is not a stretch to say that one of the biggest, if not the biggest obstacle the face is the very system that claims to be there to help them.
Anyway, enough for now. More later. Remember to live.