Living By Our Own Standards

In Features, Mind, Body & Spirit, Pushing Forward by Sean Dineen

Society’s attitudes towards the disabled on that subject have some changing to do still I am afraid. I myself am an adjunct history professor, working on a doctoral degree. This degree is the only possible way for me, to be financially independent.

In my own case, some, not all of the people within the disability establishment, whom you would think would be cheering me on, and providing what help they could, during the process, are instead getting in the way. I have a master’s degree, and I have been offered employment in a sheltered workshop!

The law is in our side, with regard to accommodations, but trying to enforce it is a pain in the neck. For example, a very dear friend of mine has spent half a century, fighting to earn a living, with limited success because she will not surrender herself to the experts’ definition of what she ought to be doing in all parts of life.

Without this degree, all my talents and time have gone to waste, and I needn’t have bothered to educate myself. I have spent six years, and $85000 on this process.

I am on the way to South Africa next month, for a research trip for the degree. Some of you will remember my trip to Australia, I wrote on last June. Some of the people within the university are very helpful, others suffer from the wrong concept that I don’t need or want this degree because “the state will take care of me”!

The requirements keep changing because they assume that like an overprotective parent, someone else will take responsibility for my life and I don’t belong in the working, bill paying, and striving world with non-disabled people.

What a false and insulting idea, my friends!

All of you may have different goals, different abilities, different needs, but you wouldn’t be reading this magazine, and perusing what ever you are trying to accomplish, if you didn’t reject this outmoded idea. We as a community have endured things in our own way that the average person can barely imagine, let alone deal with.

There is nothing wrong with getting the help we need, but it is up to us, to determine the level, and manner of such aid as we do receive, to make possible what we want to accomplish in our lives We know what we wish to do, better than even our loved ones, let alone, some doctor, therapist, counselor, or secular high priest, who takes their word to be law.

The system should, try to help people make their own goals possible, rather than present a preset set of options, and tell us “take it or leave it”.

Either we must live as though there is nothing wrong with us, taking nothing from anybody, like inhabitants of “Galt’s Gulch”, or we must surrender control of our lives to an army of experts, who will channel us, into options, designed fifty years ago, when there weren’t the range of programs and possibilities we have now.

More than anything else, we as a group must fight, spiritually, mentally and physically against these limiting ideas, which hold us back, keep us in a mental closet, separated from the rest of the world in comfortable isolation. Having to waste our energy, for all eternity fighting for our rightful desires.

All of you know this: Things aren’t what they once were. But I truly believe that there is progress to be made on many fronts. What do you think, my dear friends? What will it take for all of us to be heard? It’s our collective goal to create and nurture a better society where we can be valued as equals.

I think, we can do what Crisis did, in the pre civil rights years, to break down outmoded thinking and celebrate the heroic achievements of the men and women in our community.

So, here’s where we stand now. Where will we stand tomorrow?

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