Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kennedy-Brownback, Disability and Degree of Difficulty

The Kennedy-Brownback Bill was passed by Congress this past week. This bill requires accurate, up-to-date information about disabilities be given to parents when they receive a pre-natal disability diagnosis. I am glad to hear Congress say that unbiased information matters.

As a nurse, I often find the medical responses to disability the hardest to stomach. Folks in my field should lead the way in ‘knowing better than that.’ It is just mortifying how often they don’t.

A couple of weeks ago it was an MD from Canada talking negatively about Down syndrome.

Then this was in an article in The Chicago Tribune this week:

“Dr. Jacques Abramowicz, co-director of fetal and neonatal medicine at Rush University Medical Center, cautioned against providing a picture of the disorder that is "too rosy."

"Whenever something like this (Down syndrome) is in the media, there is the tendency to make it appear much more beautiful than it is in reality," Abramowicz said.

He says he doesn't tell women what to do, but he stressed that it is a doctor's responsibility to convey the serious health problems that accompany Down syndrome, including higher risks for leukemia, thyroid problems and, later in life, dementia.

"It is extremely difficult to have a baby with Down syndrome," he said.”

Well, this sticks in my craw.

I hope he feels equally responsible to tell parents that people with Down syndrome have a decreased risk of solid tissue tumors like breast cancer, and that ‘thyroid problems’ are experienced by a huge number of people without Down syndrome also (women over 40, for example) and they’re usually pretty easily treated. And I hope that he is sharing that the information about dementia is a risk factor, not a foregone conclusion.

(Like maternal age increases the risk of Down syndrome—yet 60% of all babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers under 30 years old. Maternal age is a risk factor, not an absolute.

The same is true of dementia. There is a higher risk of dementia, but most people with Down syndrome don’t show signs of dementia.

A physician in my area that works with adults with developmental disabilities says that most aging people with Down syndrome who are given a dementia label are misdiagnosed. He evaluates the folks that come to him and “cures” most of their dementia by treating their underlying hypothyroidism, depression, sensory deficits and other issues. He feels that most folks jump to a dementia diagnosis wrongly, and that this is inflating the current statistics.)

Is this doctor telling parents that the existence of Down syndrome is teaching researchers a great deal about Alzheimer’s disease? And that in 40-50 years, when their kids are getting up in age, there will likely be new information and new treatments available for dementia—for all of us?

Is he telling his patients about the advances in medicine, in education and in society that are making life with Down syndrome better than it has ever been? Is he telling them that quality of life of even the ‘lowest functioning’ individuals is better than it has ever been—they live home, they go to school and interact in their communities like never before? Is he telling them that the next 30 years are likely to bring about even more advances?

The studies say that few physicians are. Informed choice requires up-to-date information and includes accurate information about positives as well as accurate information about difficulties.

I hope that physicians aren’t sharing this information because they don’t know it.

Now, let's talk about "difficulty."

The doctor said, “It is very difficult to have a child with Down syndrome.”

These statements always bug me.

First, I always want to ask how he would know that—is he surmising? He’s a neonatologist—has he seen a lot of families raise their kids with Down syndrome? Maybe he has, but if his experience is just with newborns—newborns under duress—is it possible he’s extrapolating a bit? How far from infancy are these extrapolations accurate, do you think?

Then, I wonder, are professionals really implying that if you don’t have a child with Down syndrome your life as a parent will be easy??


Not all kids with Down syndrome are that difficult.

And lots of kids without any diagnosis at all are incredibly difficult to parent. All the bad things you read about in the papers are perpetrated by people. All of those people have parents, and few of those people have a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

I’m just sayin’…

Beyond this, many things in life are difficult. Difficulty gets presented like an important reason to avoid something, yet people routinely choose to do really difficult things and think they are better off because they do.

Running marathons, for example, (finally, a reason for that picture!) is difficult. You have to run—a lot. You have to train incessantly—carving time out of your busy life. You have to sweat. You wear out shoes. You risk injury. Even without injury, you tolerate a ton of discomfort (some might call it pain) as well as boredom, exhaustion, bad smells and bad weather.

It is stressful, even grueling at times. Yet people do it.

There are lots of stories after every marathon about people who hurt themselves and keep running or who stay in the race even though they will finish hours after everyone else has gone home. Yet marathon-running is a respected choice.

Becoming a physician is also difficult. One must graduate from high school with excellent grades, graduate from college with excellent grades, graduate from medical school with excellent grades, be a resident forever—balancing hard work, terrible hours, and classes where you must have—of course—excellent grades.

It’s stressful, even grueling at times. Yet people do it.

They juggle young families so they can finish. They spend every cent their parents ever made and get loans up to their eyeballs. They give up sleep and hobbies and reading the newspaper—for years. It’s a struggle—a highly respected struggle.

People willingly take on huge challenges and would fight you tooth and nail if you tried to stop them.


Because it’s worth it.

The reward is worth the effort. In fact, the struggles make the rewards worth having. Rising above the odds and mastering the challenges is empowering—and fun. It makes us SOMEBODY in our own eyes—and sometimes in others’ as well.

So we choose challenges for ourselves and recommend against them for others? This is disingenuous at best—elitist at worst.

And when we talk to someone about what it’s like to be a runner or a doctor what do they say? If they tell us they love it because of the rewards they are experiencing (good health, winning, prestige, making a difference, saving lives, etc) do we accuse them of painting a rosier picture than they should?

Do we caution others not to listen because they are making running or medicine appear more beautiful than it is?

Um, no. We never do this. Not ever.

So, why would we respond to parents of kids with disabilities this way?

I wonder….

For my other posts about Down syndrome click here.

Photograph courtesy of Philip Greenspun

Friday, September 26, 2008

Advice for Voters

Yes, I'm going there!

I thought this was very good advice:

My friend Laura says that chromosome counting is not adequate criteria for vote casting. She says that she will not be deciding who to vote for based on the fact that Trig Palin has an extra chromosome (like her son.) Or on the fact that Sarah Palin has two X chromosomes (like her.) Or on the fact that the two presidential candidates have both X and Y chromosomes like many people she knows.

She will be looking at other criteria to make her decision.

Are you not proud of her? Do you not think she is hilarious? Shouldn't she have a blog of her own? (She should, she is an excellent writer!)

She felt that after a few things she'd read this position needed clarifying!

Picture from here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disability Blog Carnival #46: Falling Is Up

Hi all, the Disability Blog Carnival #46 about Falling is up over at Disability Studies--Temple University. Penny has amassed a bunch of excellent posts about disability issues with her challenging writing prompt.

I sent her the wrong link about my own entry... don't know how I did that, but sometimes I just goof up!

Here is my "Falling" entry.

Check them out!

Edited to put in the link I meant to put in yesterday!

Interview with Patti Digh author of Life is a Verb

You read the book review (go do it now, I'll wait) now read the interview:

Yes, I sat on the veranda sipping iced tea with Patti Digh while conducting this interview--at least virtually. (Actually I sent her and e-mail from my family room couch and if I was in my PJs at the time no one needs to know--lovely thing this internet. Though I would have enjoyed the whole veranda and tea thing!)

Patti writes one of my favorite blogs, 37 days and her book from the blog, Life Is A Verb has just been published.

* I am a daily reader of your blog. Your focus on intentional, inclusive living really hits home for me. Do you feel your principles apply to people who are extremely busy or overwhelmed? Do you think intentional living adds value to any life? How? Where does intention affect burn-out?

I think being mindful is especially important for people who are extremely busy or overwhelmed. Otherwise, it's easy to be mindful, isn't it?

Most of us exist in a state of overwhelm. I know I do. In those moments—as in all moments were change is needed—we need to consider the possibility that the change that is needed is often counterintuitive. That is, often the change that is needed is the exact opposite of what we believe is needed. So, when I'm stressed and have too much to do, I believe the answer is to work faster and let relationships falter because I don't have time for them. What if the change that will help most is to slow down and foster deeper relationships instead?

* I know that in your professional life you work with companies to improve their diversity. Do your diversity beliefs extend to people with disabilities? How do you feel including people with (cognitive) disabilities affects organizations/communities? What do you see as barriers or possibilities?

I have been active in the disability community for a long time. As a former board member of many national disability advocacy groups and as a longtime member of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, I am a vocal advocate for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. I've written a lot about inclusion as it relates to people with all types of disabilities, including the ways in which our language frames our beliefs about and engagement with people with disabilities. Speaking about wheelchair-bound people evokes a different sense of that person's humanity, for example, than does people-first language like a "man who is a wheelchair user." In the first phrase, a wheelchair is a prison and the person in it is believed to be a victim while the people-first language evokes a full human being who uses a wheelchair to move about in his or her daily life. It is significant, the difference. We need to move toward people with disabilities and ask them how best to engage with them rather than move away from them in fear that we will offend them. We need to see them as people first.

*Tell us about your work on the President's commission: Which president? What was the name of it?? How long? Who with? What were you able to do/learn? What surprised or affected you about this experience?

I participated for many years under Bill Clinton's presidency in the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. We worked on disability issues at a national level, looking for ways to connect employers with people with disabilities for employment opportunities.

What surprised me most were two things: one, that we are often advocates for those things that personally affect us. That is, the employers most open to conversation about employing people with disabilities were those who had personal experience with disability in their families. We must learn to be advocates for people simply because they are human and not because we belong to their group.

And two, I was surprised that the disability community—as huge as it is (our nation's largest minority group)—was so splintered as to be somewhat ineffective. It was a great example (and there are so many in our nation) of the ways in which we can lose focus on desired outcome or intention and focus instead on circumstance (my group's interests first).

* What do you share with your daughters about people with differences? How have your girls responded?

I realized a few years ago that doing corporate diversity training had no chance of being as lasting as raising two daughters who think and talk openly about difference. With each of them, we have engaged in frank conversation about difference, providing them with the tools (I hope) to walk toward difference and not away from it. It started with each daughter reading books about difference—for example, Todd Parr's vibrant books are a great resource—letting them understand what differences exist in the world and how they all provide perspectives that can enrich our lives. By now, Emma knows the signals that I'm about to haul out the flip chart and do a little after-dinner lecture on stereotypes…(smile). It is simply a part of the DNA of our family.

* How does intentional living change lives? Do you feel it has ripple effects in the larger world?

We often believe that change can only happen in large pronouncements. But I honestly believe that local simplicities—the choices I make each day about how I am with you and what I am in service to—are the most profound tool we have for large-scale change. Because I write 37days, I pay more attention. Because I pay more attention, I see meaning in more small interactions. Because I see meaning, I have meaning in my life and I believe that all other humans have deep meaning in their lives. I can extend the same level of humanity to others that I grant to myself as a result. That's big. That's meaningful. That's powerful.

* What are your insights about how gaps between people with disabilities and others can be bridged?

I think we hesitate to engage with people with disabilities because we fear we will offend them. "How does he shake hands?" we ask ourselves. "Can he speak?" we wonder. "Should I help him across the street?" we ponder. How on earth will we know if we don't ask? What if we walked straight into the discomfort? How might that change the quality of our engagement with the world, and theirs? Who better to tell you whether they can shake hands than the person with the disability? Why do we believe we must have all the answers? Sometimes, my friends, the answers are resident in others.

* You talk in your book about the importance of things like pancakes and fun. How do pancakes and fun apply to the life of the disability advocate?

When we think about the question of 37days to live, often the impulse is to radically change our lives. What I am trying to get at in my work is the opposite of that: what if, instead, we lived RIGHT NOW the life we want, so that when we get to that last 37days, we continue living that very same precious life, rather than regret the one we didn't live. What if we continued hoeing the garden we are hoeing in our last days and just punctuated those precious hours with more chocolate chip pancakes instead? What if we played life as an infinite game, one we play to learn, as opposed to playing life as a finite game, one we play to win?

*Are there any questions you wish I had asked or is there anything else you want to say?

Terri, my thanks for your big, important work in the world and for participating in the Life is a Verb Blog Tour.

Thank you, Patti!

Book Review: 37 Days and Life Is A Verb

Once upon a time there was a blog that became a book… and it was magic!

I have mentioned many times here my enjoyment of the blog 37 Days. Written by author Patti Digh whose resolve to live intentionally and record her heart for her daughters was steeled by her stepfather’s death which happened 37 days after his diagnosis with lung cancer in 2003.

Well, some of Patti’s wonderful, thought-provoking essays are now a book: Life Is A Verb. Not only a book, but a BEAUTIFUL book, full of artwork contributed by her readers, inspiring quotes and more.

Patti has a personal commitment and makes her living making the world more welcoming for diversity of all kinds—and yes, she does include the disability community in this. She served on the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities when Bill Clinton was president and has written essays and tips for respectful presentation of disability. While her essays aren’t mostly about disability, her words on being intentional and inclusive, speaking your truth, and making a difference are both challenging and heartening for all.

Writing a proper review of this book is actually pretty difficult at this moment because this book is made for savoring and reflection and I am resisting rushing through. The book is interactive with wide margins intended for writing and exercises for deepening connections. (And yes, for my friends who know about my Pristine--with a capital P--book obsession, I am writing in it!)

Not only is this book is full of life-lessons to share with our children and each other. I think it contains a sustainable approach to advocacy. An approach that includes care for self and for others and contrasts starkly with the adrenaline charged confrontations many of us know and fear. It’s almost a mentorship.

I love it and I think you will too! Head over to 37 Days to see where Patti Digh will be doing a reading near you and to see the other blogstops on her tour. And check out my next post--an interview with Patti Digh (yes, she really answered my question--how cool is that??)

Well, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere. Come again, we never close!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Media, Disability and Opportunity

Let me draw some lines here.

This Tropic Thunder protest:

Led to this:

Yes, I have posted this before, but now Dreamworks will be including it in the Tropic Thunder DVDs and possibly shown in theaters as well.

It also led to this issue of The Bridge from The Advocacy Center in Rochester.

And this nomination:

Led to this local news piece:

Sue assure us that she did NOT say what they say she said about poor government programs--and she did NOT say that she joined the our local Down syndrome group to get those services (which is a good thing since our group offers support, education and networking opportunities, and not services!)


We could spend our time quibbling over and claiming (or even demanding) credit for the doors that have opened so far...
Or we could go through the doors while belittling the efforts of those who have opened them...
Or we could spend our energy gatekeeping who can or can't go through the open doors or by pulling them closed behind us...

But let's not do these things, OK?

We have some exciting opportunities here folks. Let's not waste them. Let's build on them. Let's find ways to do this together--the possibilities are exciting.

PS: Big treats coming up soon! Here's a hint:

Disability Blog Carnival #46: Falling

I have had nightmares of falling since I was a little kid--when I read in a psychology class at some point that falling is is a pretty common nightmare I was so relieved! I don't bungee jump, or even jump off diving boards. Falling is not my idea of entertainment.

Yet for my daughter who is a teenager with a disability it looks like falling is what comes next. After highschool, then what??

Healthcare: adults with disabilities (even pretty old adults) if they have physician coverage at all are usually covered by their pediatricians. I thought the biggest reason for this would be lack of expertise, but no. The biggest reason is because adult practitioners won't take Medicare patients.

And why are most of these folks on Medicare? Because other insurance coverage is tied to employment.

Employment: The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is a steady 65-75%. The rate of underemployment is pretty darned high as well--one of my friends had a workshop job where he made $1.19/hr just a couple years ago. Think that job had great benefits?

Housing: So with no employment what do you suppose happens with housing? What are the options? Home ownership is somewhat rare (I told my son that that saying 'somewhat rare' when I mean 'never happens' is called lowperbole--he said, "No poetic license for you!")The fact that a person with a disability can never accumulate more than $2000 makes ownership impossible--how would you ever put on a new roof?

People talk about falling out of education and into adulthood where they must surrender to system control or life at mom's with the remote control... (I'd say 'over my dead body,' but that just makes my point.)

Our community is working hard on this, but I am still having nightmares. And, as my daughter used to say: I can't like it.

Edited to add the line I didn't realize I'd left out: The generations of parents, advocates and self-advocates brought our kids home and started them on the path of education. Our generation is charged with the next phase: employment and LIVES! We have much to do, but the alternative is unthinkable.

Picture from here.

OOPS: Forgot to mention there is a great treat ahead.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Katie Couric on Down Syndrome: I Demand a Re-Write

So, what do we know about Down syndrome?

Down syndrome. It used to be a heartbreaking diagnosis for any parent, but in 2008, the picture is not as grim as society once believed.

Years ago people receiving this diagnosis often felt that their hopes and dreams were shattered, today, the outlook is quite different. The future is wide open.

While a diagnosis of Down syndrome means the child may have a cognitive disability (usually in the mild to moderate range), with advances in medicine and education people are learning more and living better lives than anyone thought possible even just a few years ago.

Congenital heart defects that require surgery are experienced by less than half of all children born with Down syndrome and modern surgery has improved outcomes for these kids so much that most will go on to have a normal life expectancy.

In the past, few people with Down syndrome were able live independently—this is no longer the assumption. There have been so many advances in healthcare, education, assistive technology, accessibility of public life and increasing employment opportunities that many people with Down syndrome are living lives quite similar to their non-disabled peers, and there is no reason to believe improvements will not continue.

Advances in medicine and technology, increasingly individualized care options and active advocacy have combined to create a future of possibility for people with all disabilities—whether from birth or acquired through illness, injury or age.

Now let's see what Katie Couric has to say:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Well folks, this would be an accurate picture of Down syndrome if this were 1968.

In 2008 this negative portrayal is appalling. This inaccurate story told by a grim-faced Katie Couric is unconscionable.

Also, I am not a Down syndrome parent. I am a parent. One of my children has Down syndrome. (Clearly the press needs many repititions to grasp respectful disability language--it's OK, I can accommodate that!)

I demand a re-write.

People with Down syndrome and their families deserve better.

[Edit: Several people have mentioned that they saw the piece on the news which included interviews with families, physicians and more and thought it was good. I agree with them. Then the person who wants to know more goes on line and finds this video where Katie Couric alone, intones grim, outdated portrayal. I do think re-writing of this piece is in order.]

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Try this Tuesday: Social Stories

Try This Tuesday

This is a tool that we have used and used and used in our house to talk about anything and everything. A social story is a narrative that teaches expected behaviors in specified situations. It really is a powerful tool--for anyone. There is a lot of talk about these stories in the autism community, but their value goes beyond diagnosis.

The power of social stories is demonstrated everywhere--advertisers show you the skateboarder drinking a certain soft-drink. Now you know. That soft-drink is essential to being a cool skateboarder person. (And manufacturers would not invest in advertising at all if it didn't change behaviors!)

The power of social stories is, after all the reason that the disability community cares about the way people are treated in movies. We knew that the phrases used in Tropic Thunder would haunt our lives--and we were not wrong! And I know just how I will act when my queendom comes through because I have watched The Princess Diaries--all of them--several (thousand) times.

When we are trying to introduce a concept to my daughter we have found Social Stories incredibly valuable.

Sometimes I find the stories I need at a bookstore or at the library. The Berenstain Bears books are ALL social stories. They teach kids what to expect at the doctors, or dentist or at school. Many other books or movies will show behaviors we are interested in. There is great value in this because my daughter loves books and movies so the lessons offered there are very well received.

Sometimes though what we need isn't really available from other sources--so I make them.

I tried Social Stories out for the first time when my daughter was in 3rd grade. She was in chorus and right before the first concert they moved their rehearsals to the stage and my daughter flipped out. She would not go on the stage, she would not sing, she was a mess.

I sat with her and it turned out her biggest fear was that she was going to fall off the stage. The lights and noise in the cafetorium compounded this. I was wracking my brains for a way to build her some success. I decided to try a story.

My daughter and I sat at the computer and wrote a story about Singing in the Chorus. We made pages about all the things that would happen. We mentioned the kids that would be standing with her, the teacher, the accompanist, that if we stood with our friends we would not fall, that there would be a strange mix of lights and darkness, that there would be applause (and that meant good things.) We illustrated it with clipart.

We read it at bedtime and before school. She took it to school and she read it with one of her friends during the day (make sure the story will not embarrass your child if you decide to do this.) Her chorus teacher even took a few minutes out of his day to read it with her and then took her down to the stage to do a run-through.

The night of the concert we didn't really know what she was going to do, but she did it--no one who hadn't seen her meltdown 2 days before would ever have know that she had struggled at all.

We have written social stories over the years about appropriate bus behavior (couldn't find a book about not throwing your shoes on the bus for some reason!), about chores, about changing classes in school, becoming a teenager and more.

The stories can be simple or complex and can be totally individualized for your child's learning style, reading level, picture preferences and needs.

From toilet-training to being in a wedding, social stories are a great tool--try it out!

Picture from here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

In the Funnies: Dilbert and Consumer-driven Services


Oh my goodness, I saw this in the paper this morning and I thought it was perfect!

This cartoon is set in an office, and I think that most, if not all, workers have dealt with this sort of gatekeeping at some point.

In fact, I think every system that has ever existed has this problem: once a system BECOMES a system its mission becomes 'staying in business' which means protecting 'the way we do things.'

Haven't you seen this in businesses, schools, clubs, governments, service organizations, and churches? Even families are not immune sometimes.

And, unless systems are very intentional, all proposals become perceived as threats. Even ideas and innovations that could bring about improvements for the systems themselves meet with suspicion, resistance and sometimes all-out rejection.

Many organizations develop a real hardening of the boundaries between them and everything else--this hardening of membranes is dangerous. Organizations, like organisms, require some semi-permeability of their membranes in order for the bad to leave and good things like nutrition to get in. When membranes lose their permeability, organisms die--so do organizations.

(I put that in for my kids who tell me they will NEVER use what they learned in science class!)

This problem is compounded when you are a person with a disability or family member who is ALWAYS in the proposing position. We are always asking everyone to individualize their services to meet our needs... and even when doing so will cost them less or make them better at what they do, our ideas are not always welcomed.

I don't know what the answer is. I know that I want consumer-based everything for my daughter. I want to avoid systems.

I do not want my daughter's life to be made of whatever program A or B or C has (or doesn't allow.)

I don't want her to be 'bulked' for education, employment or anything else.

I want to find services the way I buy groceries: cereal made by a couple of different companies, tea from another, canned goods from whoever has the best price, and fresh produce from the farmers' market at the church around the corner from my house.

People with disabilities employ a huge portion of the education, healthcare and service industries, yet these industries often control them.

Who has some great ideas to shift this balance??

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin, Election '08 and More

My mind is reeling—it’s the first week of school, there’s going to be this election soon (have you heard?), my own busy-ness is swallowing time AND I have a thousand things I want to say!!!! Where do I start????

Sarah Palin: OK, she gives a good speech, but so do I… not enough. She has a baby with a disability—I do think this candidacy offers some lovely exposure for disability issues, but to influence my vote I would need to know her views on the value and citizenship/membership in our society of adults with disabilities. Babies, as challenging as new diagnoses and medical concerns may be, are the easy part.

What does “friend and advocate” really mean to the 22 year old guy who is being denied community choices who must move to a nursing home or institution—at 1/3 higher cost to the taxpayer and 99% less quality of life for him? What does it mean to the 75% unemployment rate for people with disabilities? To folks who need healthcare?

McCain: Have you seen or heard anything different from McCain’s folks about disability since Palin has stepped on board? They still don’t have their disability stance on their website—now they have Sarah Palin and Madeleine Will on their team. What is holding them back??

I fear they are beholden to others who are not in favor of a real disability policy… and I can’t see how election will improve that. I hope they show me otherwise.

I think Obama chose Biden because of his experience, I think McCain didn’t feel he needed anyone’s experience, he needed their appeal. I would like to see how he intends to respond to Palin’s influence because if he doesn’t, she is incidental at best.

Issues: I don’t vote on abortion alone. I don’t vote on $$ alone either. There is a cost for living in a great place. Freedom ain’t free as the saying goes. Since money is going to be spent there must be value—for the people in our communities. Show me value.

Life on the Spectrum: The book Crucial Conversations calls either/or thinking a “sucker’s choice” and says never fall for it. I tell people in advocacy talks that all or nothing circumstances don’t exist.
• We do not have to have exactly the healthcare system we have now OR something completely awful—those are NOT the only two choices.
• We do not have to accept inaccessibility OR fall into economic rack and ruin.
• We do not have to be all in-Iraq OR all out-of-Iraq.
There is actually no issue that I have heard discussed that is the all or nothing situation that is portrayed. Every issue offers a spectrum of options and choices.

Characterizations: What is up with jumping from discussing issues to personal insults?? Several discussions I have heard or read begin with people saying why they like their idea for solving one of the world’s problems, which is good. Somewhere in the mix somebody derails and says “Oh, that’s because you don’t believe in personal responsibility.” Or, “Oh that’s because you’re a rigid conservative.”

Somehow a person who hears something they don’t like thinks name-calling exempts them from having to listen, maybe? Or, in the case of talk-show hosts, if you’re not getting enough oomph from your points, driving up the drama keeps the listeners, maybe??

Ugly, either way.

Damage: I am beginning to think that elections can be as damaging to the fabric of society as any war, environmental issue, moral dilemma, economic concern, natural disaster or homeland security issue could ever be.

I am wondering what Solomon, in the Old Testament would have done if the two moms fighting over the baby had both said to go ahead and split him.

• Polarizing rhetoric divides us against each other.
• Characterizations poison our relationships making us less able to work together.
• All or nothing positioning makes applying our American creativity and know-how to problems impossible.
I want to know which candidate has the best post-election healing plan—we are going to need it.

Negativity: Remember the bell curve. I mentioned this in a comment a bit ago, but I think it bears repeating. Al Condeluci, in his talk about inclusion, points out that all the world is a bell curve: 20% positive gate-keepers, 20% negative gate-keepers and the 60% in between “waiting to be seduced.”

The folks engaging in these issues on line and on TV are from the 2 ends. If the positive folks drop out due to the nastiness, the only voices the 60% with potential will hear are the negative ones. Hang tough, believers—you matter.

Picture from here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Got an Award!!!

In the midst of my end of summer picnicking Rickismom from Beneath the Wings just gave me my very first blog award!!! I am so excited!!!

Now comes the hard part. I have to pass it on to 7 other blogs... this is tough becasue I follow way more than that and I am very loyal to all of them. The people I read are all believers and I like their writing--they provide blogfood for me.

(I really hate leaving anyone out--everyone I follow deserves an award for a different reason. These 7 are great and check my blogroll for other very good reads. And I will be updating that this week too!!!)

Chewing the Fat. Dave writes as a professional (and a believer) who has worked with folks with cognitive disabilities and as a wheelchair user himself. He is a great storyteller--committed, touching, humorous, it's all there.

Equal Not Special. This is a group blog--from Australia (I think.)Interesting points of view.

Lovely and Amazing. This is written by the mom of 2 kids, one of whom has Down syndrome. Wonderful writing--about herself, her family and sometimes current disability issues when they raise their heads.

Pipecleaner Dreams. Debbie, mom of teenagers, some of whom have disabilities. Reflections on life and issues and gratefulness.

Sweet Perdition. Reflections of Tera on her life and on disability issues. Very insightful.

Therextras. Barbara gives lots of information about movement and development from her background as a PT and OT with personal reflections and diverse analogies, and humor that make the information accessible and interesting. (I can't get this page to open at the moment--will post the link later.)

Wheelie Catholic. Ruth posts often about faith, issues, sports, poetry, literature, hints, videos, interesting stuff and personal reflections. Always something interesting to read.

(Edited to fix a couple of links--if you tried before and were led astray, try again!! T-)