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.

ANNOUNCING THE LIFE GROWTH BLOG



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

12-31-8

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BACK ON DISABILITY: SOME REFLECTIONS

I am going back on disability. I never wanted to say that sentence, much less write it. However, reality is a harsh master at times, and if there is one thing that has never been in the same room with bigotry, it’s reality.

Long ago, I learned that life happens to us whether we like it or not. What was it John Lennon wrote years ago? “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.” So true.

If memory serves, I was on disability from 1985 to 1992. In 1992, after my mother committed suicide, I threw my all into getting off the disability rolls and succeeded. Although, when I told Social Security I wanted my benefits to stop I threw them into such a tizzy I began to think I’d asked them to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity by mistake.

My focus now it to do my best to make sure certain things in my life remain stable and strong: first and foremost, my sobriety (without that, all else perishes); my ability to help others by bringing them a message of hope that is based on real truths with real strategies, not just the kind of pie in the sky bullshit; my writing; and my ability to advocate for anybody who is being denied the right to be who they are safely in the world we all live in.

Human rights covers everyone and equal rights belongs to everyone – and I mean everyone: people who are gay and lesbian; people who live with disabilities; people from every religion; people who are poor; people who are rich; blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Israelis – everyone. Everyone.

You can rest assured I will keep writing too.

I am closing in on the end of my memoir and I am going to send it to some agents. If any of you can suggest a reputable one, let me know. I may well send it directly to some publishers. I’d be open to any suggestions on that front as well. I have two novels churning around and I recently decided to write a book about what it has been like to work in the field of brain injury for nearly 15 years.

I’ve gotten some interesting feedback on the book last mentioned. Some people are thrilled and some are, well, worried, and some are scared. All I can say is I have no targets. My intention is to write it honestly and, as the saying goes, let the chips fall where they may.

Like any field I suppose, the field of brain injury has some extraordinary people working in it. There are company owners and management folks who are great. There are , you may be surprised to hear, people in the government, in the regulatory agencies, who are also great.

However, there are those in the aforementioned categories that belong on the other side of the coin from great, the darker side, if you will. There are those driven by greed and the lust for power. There are others, too many others, who descend on a badly wounded population of people with the sole intent intent of controlling them and manipulating them, in some cases through intimidation, so they can keep them in their programs or in their facilities to make money off them. Sadly, many of our badly wounded in life brothers and sisters find themselves herded into socially-approved corrals where their vulnerabilities coupled with the design of these corrals makes it a near certainty their rights and dignity will be taken away. I have witnessed this and fought this and paid the price for doing so over the years. I am paying the price even today. But this is something I am willing to give my life for. And if that happens down the road, I’ll be in good company.

You need to know that while my pen fiercely abhors dishonesty and distortion, its loyalty to honesty and clarity is unflinching and ferocious. There are some in “high places” today who go through their days wedded to the sadly mistaken belief that they are invulnerable. Wrong. Remember what I said at the beginning of this essay? Reality can be a harsh master. Always it is a just master; it spares no one.

Over the years, we have all seen many of the so-called mighty toppled from toppled from their perches, their eyes glazed over with disbelief, their expressions seem to say, “How could this happen to me? I was in my impenetrable fortress?” We’ve all seen it. Their faces etches in bewilderment, shock and dismay, their tormented expressions crying out, “Poor me! Poor me!”… Oh well…

But for now, it is back onto disability for me. As time goes by the impact of the damage I live with from the shooting changes. However, there is one thing that will never change: my unflinching commitment to doing all I can to advocate for every person’s right to be who he or she is safely in the world in which we all live in.