I am not one to remain quiet for very long. Remember the woman in "Eat Pray Love" who is "in silence"? I would love to try that, just to see how far I could get. I think, in my case, silence would have to mean not writing in a public way (meaning, my mom and sister and best friend won't read it), as well. I get my ideas across much better through words on a page or screen than I do in conversation.
To keep these words and opinions to myself would be difficult, to say the least. I would probably need lots of chocolate and terrible movies as a distraction. Or maybe I could start running again. That would certainly be the healthier way to go.
I should preface all of this by saying that I don't ever really intend to shoot my mouth off without thinking. That is why I prefer writing. I can delete before anyone sees how really crazy I am. It does not work that way on the phone. No. On the phone, a person can sit in their comfy office, surrounded by colleagues that have already been warned of your lunacy with only your muddled CaliforniaMidwestNew Jersey accented voice over the speakerphone in your corner.
Change is really hard. Change for the better should be much easier than it is, but somehow, we get caught up in what is easy and what is familiar and just what IS. Sometimes, we get complacent. Sometimes, we just wish someone else would take up the mantle of our cause and let us sit quietly on the sidelines reaping the benefits. I'm not knocking that last part. I have enjoyed many things that others have given their blood, sweat and tears to secure for me.
At some point, however, each one of us needs to stand for something we believe in and let the ones that come after reap the rewards. Because if we don't, we cannot be sure that there is someone to take our place in the fight.
I just got off the phone after an emotionally exhausting hour of having my ass handed to me by someone that I thought was on my side. It can be hard to convince people outside the circle of special needs that changes need to be made, but, when you can't even gain consensus with people who are supposed to understand, well, let me tell you, it's a punch in the face.
It cannot be a knockout punch, though. I need to get out the smelling salts, dust off my pants and my ego and go out there again and again and again, because I know it is the right thing to do.
The main focus, for me, is the human and civil rights cause of inclusion on all levels for those with intellectual disabilities. If you look at all the civil rights causes that have grown before this one, for blacks, for women, for gays, the fight continues until full acceptance and inclusion is achieved. This has not really happened for any of these groups, but women have come pretty far (there is just that pesky gap in pay, limiting reproductive choices, rape culture...), blacks have as well (again, a huge list of what could be better) and gays still can't get married in most parts of the country. So, those fights continue.
For individuals with intellectual disabilities, the fight is still in it's infancy. Sure, we have come a long way since the days of putting your kid into an institution at birth to be forgotten. Well, in this country, we have. Around the world there are thousands and thousands of forgotten children in cold, soulless, hopeless rooms that they will never leave while still breathing.
So, with all the horrors in the world, I can kind of see the tendency to pat ourselves on the backs and say "Look how much better we are!". But, when it comes to human lives, better is not enough.
We need to rise above better and become
The best we can be.
We need to change the way people with intellectual disabilities are viewed. We need to change hearts and minds.
We need to show those in power that we are all a sum of our strengths and weaknesses and not numbers on a ledger.
We need to show that there are ways to contribute in this world other than through our monetary earnings.
We need to show that equal treatment does not mean special treatment.
We need to be a voice for the voiceless, the powerless and the most in need of support.
We need to get out of our bubble; no matter how safe we feel in there.