June’s issue of “Life with Laura” reminded me about my wife’s experience.
I am not a wheelchair user myself, but my wife uses one regularly at work. I do remember a time a couple of years ago when she had to go through the process of obtaining a new chair for herself. The one that was currently in her life had become unsafe to use and she desparately needed a new one.
Even though the old one was not fit to be used anymore, she was very emotional about letting it go. It did not help that the technician introducing her to her new chair was bold and somewhat unfeeling, making the transition even more traumatic.
The experience was very close to the situation you just presented in this story. I am happy to say that my lovely wife soon became well acquainted with her new chair and the two of them get along very well these days.
I am also proud to be the one responsible for its maintenance and to be sure that the lovely purple color keeps its luster throughout its current life.
Thank you for the lovely article.
Response to Anthony Karen’s photographs in “Journey To Cambodia” June 2005 issue.
Give this guy (Anthony Karen) anything he wants – just keep him writing and submitting pictures. Very hard-hitting. There is nothing like personal narrative. Something to consider, too: Because there are so many soldiers coming home from Iraq with disabilities, it may be a good time in the U.S. to lobby for disability benefits that truly encourage inclusion. I’ve just heard about a Pennsylvania advocacy group that pairs people with disabilities with volunteers. Apparently, many services are cut off when they turn 21. I’m still learning about this but apparently the volunteers work with clients to ensure clients get into the right streams for job training, education and so on. We’re talking about this at Yahoo Disability Chat. I wonder if the former marine knows of a similar group for military personnel and if so how effective it is. I am always anxious to learn more about disability networks and benefit schemes to determine their effectiveness. If it’s not working (and it mostly isn’t, of course) what’s missing?
Louise at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Another excellent issue, my audacious friend. You just get better and better.
I once saw a television talk show feature a disabled young man who happened to be a brilliant sculptor. He had an accident in the tub as a toddler and was brain-damaged. On the program, the interviewer asked the young man where he got his wonderful talent. The young man assured the interviewer that his talent was a gift from God. At the time, I had no faith of my own. I wondered how someone so simple could know God so well. I have grown to believe I have a handicap also. It isn’t as obvious as his disability. A normally functioning person doesn’t typically believe they need to rely and God and doesn’t particularly want to, at least not all the time. Now I have learned that we are all one in Christ. God loves all of us the same. He loves the saved as well as the unsaved. He loves the ‘normal’ as well as the disabled. We often deprive ourselves of some of the greatest possible blessings in life by blocking out a relationship or even just an association with some very special people. We should certainly make every effort to include ALL people in the family of Christ. Whatever we do for ‘the least of these’, we are doing to our benefit.
Did Jeff McNair hit the nail on the head!
I am a financial services advisor and former special educator and enjoy and appreciate articles on meeting the needs of people with disabilities. I just finished reading “Becoming Anti-Private” in Audacity, by Dr. Jeff McNair of California Baptist University.
I was broken-hearted that the whole Terry Shaivo issue even happened in the first place. But, that there are those of us in the world that allow others to treat a disabled person in the manner Terry Shaivo was is discouraging. But that’s the way the world is right now. BUT, what makes no sense at all is that this happens consistently in our Christian churches all over, albeit, not completely all, thank the LORD.
I am praying that somehow, Jeff McNair’s article will find its way into MANY other publications so that many will read it & adopt a person with disability into their own church. “But, there’s no place for ‘them!’ ” Well, we can make a place for them. I, for one, agree wholeheartedly with McNair! Bless him, I say!
Estate Planning Concepts &
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I am somewhat puzzled by Jeff McNair’s seeming fury over the church’s lack of involvement with people with disabilities. I don’t know what church he is referring to, but my observation has been that disabled persons are included in and sometimes supported by a church or its members or by institutions funded by the church.
I have been active in several churches in my life and never felt rejected, although there was one time when a dear friend of ours became very bitter over the lack of help she was getting for her severely disabled daughter.
She was extremely overworked and while people occasionally came by to help, it was not nearly enough to ease her burden. She also checked out the various care centers in the state and found the conditions to be so bad that she could not bring herself to leave her daughter there.
Eventually the mother decided to separate from her husband and leave, and shortly thereafter the daughter died at school of a heart attack. Here is an example of something that was a burden greater than the family could bear, not like a single disability like blindness which does not
inhibit a person’s ability to live a full life.
The burden in this case was not shared as it should have been. But the days of keeping disabilities private is long past.
Does it still happen? Perhaps, but I haven’t seen it.
In short, I did not agree with the overal tone of this article. I think we need to be audacious about the right things, not make blanket statements that simply don’t apply.
What do you think?
Excellent read. I find McNair’s position credible in pushing the disabled and the families of disabled to behave proactively. However, rather than assume they will be hurt or turned away by churches (which I agree is likely) why not begin to ask questions of the families, the disabled and the church of which the answers would point to incentives (read Freakonomics by Levitt for a better understanding of incentives) that might function to bring the groups together for mutual benefit and reduced segregation.
Peter Webster’s readers respond.
I read Peter’s article in the June 2005 issue of Audacity Magazine.
Boy, is he ever right on! I have had the same thoughts and concerns, but he expresses them so eloquently.
I have only one response. Peter commented that he “has trouble believing that the voters are so stupid as to let our leaders get away with this.” The voters are not so stupid; the leaders lie and cheat to get their way. I feel that the concept of a government “by the people, for the people” has been lost somewhere along the way. I, for one, want it back.
Peter’s frustration and anger is apparent in his article. I would not even try to insinuate that he doesn’t believe what he has written. The problem is that what he has written has a lot more to do with the Democratic party talking points than with reality. (To be fair, I think that both parties put out “talking points” that often will have nothing to do with reality but with winning the next election.)
Much has been made, by the Democrats, of President Bush’s lack of intellect abilities. This supposed lack has nothing to do with the truth. If someone will study the truth, one will discover a man who is highly educated (a Masters degree), is well read, has a great thinking mind, but for the most part
is not a gifted orator or quick on his feet.
If one must attack the inteligence of someone, what about former President Clinton (btw, a President I voted for–twice)? Just like Gary Hart before him, President Clinton had a well earned reputation of womanizing. But yet, all of the talk, and the realization that he was being watched wasn’t enough to encourage President Clinton to keep his pants zipped up–at least in places where it was likely others would know what was going on. He then went on national television and lied about it. That strikes me as dumb choices.
Lest, in our rush to denigrate the Republicans and President Bush for their move to supposedly cut all “disabled monies” let us remember where the policies of the past have brought us. For instance in 1991 when the ADA was passed about 70% of the people with disabilities were unemployed. Today, after 14 years of the ADA, and 8 years under a Democratic president (President Clinton) roughly 70% of the persons with disabilities are unemployed. Maybe everything that has been done in the past has not worked.
I am not advocating the overthrow of Vocational Rehab or of throwing out all of what is done. However, I think we should certainly look at new ideas and give careful consideration to “will this work” before we begin the castigation process. This has not been done. The day the President’s budget was proposed the castigation began.
We must weigh all possibilities with the question, “will this work?” Because if we continue to insist on the status quo, the status quo will continue–which literally translated means “the same old mess we are in.”
Perhaps, just maybe (and my head is ducked as I say this to avoid the rocks that will come my way) we need less money thrown to some people with disabilities (and our organizations) to help encourage us into a more self-supporting role. But I would hasten to add, though, when the money is needed–it needs to be there. Everyone can’t be self-supporting.