I Hear I’m Controversial

Sometimes a part of our truth can be right in front of us and we can’t see it. Case in point: I sheepishly confess that I was utterly entirely flabbergasted this morning when a friend of mine said, “Well, you know you’re controversial, Peter.”  It was, I’ve gathered since talking to others since this morning’s conversation, and enduring everyone’s laughter by the way, a rather prominent deer in the headlights moment for me. I instinctively responded by saying, “Why should equal rights be controversial?”

They are.

I asked them why they think I’m controversial. The theme of their answers was the same. You call out people, companies, agencies, government agencies on their actions or lack of actions. You don’t politically walk on eggs. You are deeply sensitive to all minorities and you don’t hesitate to identify those who persecute them, even when you know it is going to cost you. People know if you see people being mistreated you’re going to say it and name names. One person said, You drag things into the light.

Well, if that all makes me controversial then I’m glad I am. I was recently in a meeting where someone I respect a great deal said part of advocacy is about pushing the envelope.

One person said, Some folks hope you’ll just go away.  Those who hope I’ll just go away are those who through action or inaction support things that deny people their rights.

I know of too many people whose support for minorities like people with disabilities, Gays, Lesbians, blacks, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans is cast in lip service and self-aggrandizement. Bad news for these folks. I’m not going away. I can’t. I’m controversial.

Memo to My Gay & Lesbian Brethren

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

The fact Maine voters this week rejected the notion of gay marriage doesn’t just reflect that fact that some have a way to go in realizing people are equal, and being equal means equal rights, and equal rights means people who are Gay and Lesbian have the right to marry. So know, as I suspect you already do, that your extraordinary efforts are not about attaining the right to marry, they are about helping people recognize and accept the right is already there.

We are all prone to seeing the glass as half empty at times and certainly this week’s loss is wrenching. But don’t allow it so much say it robs you of recognizing the wondrous truth that the question of gay marriage was on the ballot!

It is only a matter of time. Equal rights don’t come easy, but they come. So keep on trucking and, for what it’s worth, know that this pen has you backed all the way.


Some time early in the new year I will be rolling out the Life Growth Blog. It will be devoted to addressing human rights and hopefully provide a forum for you to write in and talk about what you feel are some of the injustices you and or others are dealing with.

In my lifetime I have seen the poison hands of injustice damage and in some cases destroy the lives of far too many good and decent people, including me. And while I am willing and ready to write about the injustices done to me (there has been a plethora of them over the past two years or so) this blog is for you too.

While I cannot save and rescue everyone, while I cannot right every wrong or straighten every distorted and dysfunctional bend in our culture, I can do my best to add my voice to the mix on behalf of others.

On this day in my country’s history, there are laws that seek to protect the rights of the disabled, people who are gay, lesbian, black, Latino, Asian, etc. But too often the laws lack bite, lack the necessary mechanisms to right the injustices they were meant to confront and address. I am firm believer that injustice brought into the light will ultimately perish.

I have worked in the field of brain injury for more than 13 years, and I have seen good programs go bad, struggling programs do good, and, in some instances, people in leadership positions who have everything on their minds but the rights of those they serve, the survivors and their families. What people with brain injuries face is an example of what too many people with disabilities face.

Hopefully, in this coming year, the Life Growth Blog will shed some light onto these things, and perhaps be a voice for all. Even those who provide services deserve to get well. If they don’t, then they deserve to get out.

The blog address will be: http://lifegrowth1.blogspot.com/

(Please note numeric 1 after the word lifegrowth)

Happy New Year to you all.

Peter S. Kahrmann




Someone asked me recently if I still believed in the possibility of a truly wonderful and loving romantic relationship. They seemed somewhat surprised when, without hesitation, I said I did. But look at what you’ve been through, they exclaimed, pointing to parts of my history that can understandably be seen as potential impediments to my ability to believe a loving romantic relationship is a possibility in life.

Well, I said, If I were to give my history that kind of control, then it would still be damaging me, now wouldn’t it? I don’t think it deserves that kind of power, do you?

No, they said. But do you really think being swept off your feet, you know, all that heart pounding stuff, the butterflies and all, you really think that’s possible?

Of course, I said. It’s part of nature. Nature is life and life happens to us whether we like it or not. If you are walking in the rain, the rain hits you doesn’t it? It doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your history, how old you are, how tall or short or thin or fat. No bigotry in nature. The thing is to be brave enough to accept life, and sometimes I think accepting the beautiful miraculous things in life, like falling in love with someone and their falling in love with you, is scarier than the frightening things.


Because if it is going to work, to flourish, you have to be willing to be you fully in the relationship. So if the all of you is present, it can feel like the all of you is at risk. Equally important, you have to be willing to allow the other person to be who they are. People are always going around trying to abbreviate each other without even realizing it. Like you fall in love with the entire person and then when they feel the same way you get terrified and then, usually without realizing it, you try and pare them down into a Reader’s Digest version of themselves, no offense to Reader’s Digest, by the way.

You baffle me.

Get in line. Look, my closest friend in the world is deeply in love with a wonderful woman and she is deeply in love with him. And he is older than I am. People spend so much time worrying about life, what will or won’t be ,that they forget to live it. These two live their lives together, and therein lays the wonder of it all.


I see relationships all over the place where the two people might be together, but they aren’t sharing life together. People in marriages or live-in relationships where the only thing they really share in life is the bills, if that. It’s heartbreaking.

And what about Gay marriages, the opposition to Gay marriages?

Oh, please. The opposition to Gay marriages is rooted in ignorance, which far too often is fueled by hatred. Hatred is a major fuel for ignorance and vice versa, you ask me. I was friends for quite a few years with two women that were a couple. Man, let me tell. you They really loved each other. I mean adored each other. They worked together, owned a business together, cared deeply about each other. If people were able to see a relationship like that for what it really is, two people that really love each other, and maybe stop giving their histories or antiquated belief systems so much control over them, maybe they would grow a little. I mean is there too much love going on between people these days?

And what do you mean when you talk about sharing life as opposed to – ?

I mean what is the point of simply being tenants in each other’s life?

No point.

I think the joy of a relationship, the pay off if you will, is to be able to share life together. Obviously, individuality is important; you don’t give up who you are for another person. But I can think of things that I dream of, like seeing the Grand Canyon or going to Germany and standing in a room where Beethoven lived and other things that I’d love to share. That’s the wonder of it. And share too what she loves. It’s heartbreaking when you see two people together who are so over yet they are afraid to declare their independence. Sad shit for sure.

So you still believe.

Of course… why shouldn’t I?