For example, when I post about the plight of Russian orphans with Down syndrome, it's not to boo hoo about it (though, it does make me cry), it's to call attention to something that I am actively working on changing. Change takes time. Change takes outreach and noise. Change takes reaching out to people who speak different languages. Change means shining a light on perceived "norms" and asking questions and challenging individuals to look at things differently.
Facebook has it's issues, and being a huge time waster is one of the biggest; so in between posting memes of funny cats and hilarious "Fifty Shades of Grey" reviews, I want to spend some time doing something good, even if it doesn't appeal to everyone.
I mean, I get it. The world is effed up. There is a ton of stuff to bring us down; crazy world leaders, environmental degradation, extinction of beautiful animals, children in danger...the list is endless. If you let yourself get sucked into all the horror, it's hard to feel positive about anything. I mean, why bother? It's so easy to be consumed by it all and to feel like whatever good you can do will be swallowed up by the rest of the crap. Maybe it's best to just focus on the good things and ignore the rest.
Except, I can't.
I mean sure, I love cute pictures of babies (here) and animals (here). I love videos that help restore my faith in humanity (like this) and (this) and (this). I KNOW that there are more good people than bad and I KNOW that there are so many individuals hard at work, changing things for the better, in small ways and large.
But, the bad stuff is there and it needs facing to keep it in check.
Every day, every minute, I have a choice. I can ignore the bad, stick my fingers in my ears and say "la la la, I can't hear you" and continue playing Scrabble, or I can take a deep breath, see what issues feel pressing at the moment and dive in. It's constant battle between the two. Sometimes, the issues are so absolutely soul crushing that I need to walk away for an hour or a day or a week before picking up the thread again.
Sometimes, I am so struck by the hatred (this guy), that I feel paralyzed and it takes me a few days to formulate a plan of defense. I was ready to begin writing about the Michael Laws' of the world, when my friend posted this.
My first reaction was "god damn it. I can't deal with every slight, every single infraction, every joke made at the expense of kids like mine" and I played some Scrabble and scrolled and tried to formulate the blog post that was percolating along with the coffee and watched the snow fall fast outside my window.
My second reaction was "god damn it! I have to email the guy!" and I did. This is what I wrote:
I get that the onion is satirical and my sarcasm muscle is usually sore from overuse. But, kids should be off limits.
Babies with Down syndrome are still, in 2013, routinely sent to filthy orphanages to rot in Russia. Children with Down syndrome in this country still have to fight to be included in school, in sports and in a society that too often does not want to "deal" with them.
My kid and children like him are not broken gifts. They are cherished members of their families and their communities because I and many parents like me have fought for years against prejudice.
Please don't make this job harder.
It took me all of five minutes and it felt good hitting "send". I supported the friend who posted it first and supported my kid in NOT ignoring it.
I'm not saying that I will jump on every bandwagon. There are only so many hours in the day that I can tweet celebrities who think calling people "retards" is still honky dory. There are only so many items that I can focus my attention on before I become pulled in too many directions.
The only things that keep my going are the fact that I am trying, in spite of the overwhelming-ness of it all, to make the world a more welcoming place for my children and that I am not alone in my quest.
Alone, I would hardly make a ripple in the vast ocean of insulting, unfunny and downright dangerous debris that I wade through. Together, we make waves. From the tiniest splash made the first time a parent kept their kid home instead of placing them in an institution, to the parent whose kids are going to college and driving and getting married, we are making our presence known.
You feel that wave? That's us pushing back.