Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Have you ever noticed the way some kids (not NECESSARILY mine!) will hem, haw, fuss, fume, fight, delay, drag-out, dig their heels in, whine, moan, carry on and even possibly cry to avoid emptying the dishwasher?

(Seriously, not my kids—they were a great help tonight and if they read this tomorrow I don’t want to get in trouble. I should have posted this yesterday. .. Or tomorrow. : )

The job takes 5 minutes on a bad day…it’s simple and small…it’s completely inevitable…and they would feel so much better once it was done. Yet, once they decide NOT to do it, they will carry on like I’ve asked them to scale the face of Mt. Rushmore carrying the entire 1967 Encyclopedia Brittanica in one hand, a Rolls Royce in the other and balancing a fine Belleek tea set on their heads.

And what can I really say to them? I spent years of my own childhood hanging out with my own brothers in the kitchen of my own parents’ house NOT washing the table, NOT sweeping the floor and NOT cleaning the dishes—arguing at full voice. (I’m telling myself that this is how I honed my advocacy skills—by figuring out what won't work!)

When people decide NOT to do something even tasks as simple as doing dishes can take forever, be traumatic, and lead to misery and poor outcomes. And, like kids, people who have committed NOT to do something always lay the blame for the whole sordid mess on someone else—I blamed my parents and my kids blame me.

Have you ever noticed that when people decide TO do something nothing stands in their way? Just look around at the marvels of our ever-advancing technology. There was a time when machines couldn’t fly; there was no world wide web and no way to care for premature babies or combat viruses just for starters.

Have you ever seen the movie The Right Stuff? I was amazed when I learned that NASA began the entire space program using a computer with the same capacity as the computer my sister-in-law carries in her purse (though she would have needed a somewhat larger purse back then—their computer filled rooms!) And what about the part where the crew was in trouble and the engineers were given a pile of the materials the astronauts had on hand and told to create a lifesaving solution, now! They were committed TO succeed and they did.

Prior to World War II the life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome was 9 years old. Then some pioneers decided to figure out heart surgery, others committed to developing antibiotics and our culture decided that it would be ungrateful to our veterans not to share these advances with people with disabilities. Today people often live in to their fifties or even older.

The recognition of things like hypothyroidism, celiac disease, research about learning and more have lead folks with Down syndrome to longer lives with more capacities and possibilities than people ever imagined even just a couple decades ago.

People who decide TO accomplish a task buckle down and do it—they neither accept the status quo, nor barriers, and they often even relish challenges. They accomplish not only the simple tasks, but often the huge and amazing as well. With these folks there is no blaming.

Become allies with the folks who are committed TO create advances and be one yourself. Let their spark keep yours ignited so together we can get the job done. What job? Just making a better, more welcoming world—for all.

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