Posts Tagged ‘Persons with disabilities’


Daddy, we are not disabled, my buds and me are superheroes.

-My Son, Canada Day 2018

The world continually tells parents of super-heroes as my son phrases it, to mourn how they are not “typical” or “normal”. It forces us to buy into an ableist, almost eugenics think pattern. IT IS WRONG!!! Our kids live in the “we are a burden” and “we are sorry we can’t…” mindsets, because their parents and caregivers get brainwashed out of weariness into perpetuating it upon them.

And, in my humble pastoral-monastic-psychologist-Dad perspective, it is:

HORSE SHIT!

(Yes the stuff we stepped in while feeding horses and celebrating belonging and busing earlier this month as a family, with as my son phrases them, his sidekicks).

It is time to throw off the shackles of exclusion. Burst the chains that only speak of tolerance and inclusion.

Screw that.

It is time for full on belonging. We exist in the world. The world supports all, and needs to continue to provide for dignity, inclusion, and accessibility so BELONGING is the reality…and what is the benchmark to begin with for every child and human being on this planet, in our great country of Canada, province of Alberta and City of Calgary. if belonging is not the starting point– then yes we are simply lying to ourselves, and those lies are foisted upon our children so they never feel that they are good enough, healthy enough or typical enough to belong.

As the ancient mystics warned, the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. It was not some rule following. It is the world that is created when we create camps of others, or burden, and as parents do not celebrate the beauty in life.

Whether your child or self, identifies within the community as special needs, complex learning needs, disabled, differently abled, or as my son, super hero. Know that belonging is a human right. It is where our country states we begin the conversation. The essentials needed for that to happen should never be up for debate, and that is where the fight should be. That everyone needs different things to belong, and if it is medical, holistic or social supports or equipment that are necessary for that to happen that is okay.

Each person’s path in life is different. There is no such thing as typical or normal.

It is time to celebrate our beautiful diversity that exists under the Maple Leaf, and know that he Just Society is not a myth.

On this Canada Day… Celebrate the beautiful life that exists.

spong4Parents of children with disabilities are conditioned to live in perpetual grieving and mourning. They are conditioned by a world that always views their child as deficient, less than. It creates a trauma and grief that is then foisted upon the child. It is encouraged in the religious sphere through the lens that “healing” is needed before belonging, not realizing belonging is what simply is.

For my son, he sees his super powers (blessings) as his bi-focal good eye, his rolly eye, his elasticity of speech, his Cerebral Palsy, his incredible strength of his non-paralyzed side, his ADD that aids in exploration and multi-tasking, his deep empathy and love, his simple acts of kindness.

Some say we shield because we do not have time for communities of all shapes that embrace him as the boy he is. But I ask you, why should we bother supporting communities that say he does not belong?

My son, like his sister who does life her own way, is a child of the world…and we celebrate the amazing, inquisitive, superhero he is in transforming this world for the better each and every day.

The question is to the adults of this world:

Are you ready to remove your conditioning?

Are you ready to celebrate?

 


There is still one group that folks can dump on, and take out hate on without being called to account each time. I know it may sound shocking, but it is true. How do I know? There has been very few to no apologies for historic atrocities birthed out of religious beliefs that grew into eugenic government policies. Rarely are they mentioned when speaking of the Stalin era and Nazi Holocausts, even though millions were experimented on before the final solution was given to them—backed by both atheists and theists.

History also speaks of forced sterilizations, pushes for aborting (and infanticide). Shame that it is because of sin (personal or family). Abusive institutionalization that if it was war hospitals would have violated the Geneva Convention. Before that, cast outside the city, into the garbage dumps.

Vastly overlooked, very few knew this past week was Accessibility Week, which culminates on Sunday June 3 with Disability Pride.

So misunderstood that the monotheistic faiths spoke of “healing” as a means so they could belong and be welcomed again. Yet, it was Jesus who showed that it was us who had created the false separation:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

-Gospel of John (New International Version) 9:1-7

Many will see this lived teaching of Brother Jesus (amongst his other healing) as a call that there is something deficient within the person, yet that is not what is happening. The people asking the question (as those today) are the blind ones, it was only by the act of removing their neighbours blindness could they see the belonging.

Yet we fixate on the “otherness” and the “not like usness”. We may clean up language, but there is still a world filled with saying you do not belong:

  • R-Word use excuse “yeah but I mean it in the medical way.” FTS—only the most backward practitioner still uses it is a diagnostic with terms such as global delay, developmental delay available. You are the Neanderthal that still assumes other racists-prejudice language is okay and excusable.
  • Environmental push to end the plastic straw and literally attacking the community when they point out the need. You are exclusionary, and laying the plank work for eugenic beliefs of less than to exist—you are the one asking who sinned…
  • The “I am just running in” and taking up the accessible (permit only) parking stall—while ignoring the idling vehicle with the permit…for those who know the show New Girl, this is the type of thing that would get Schmidt to put money in the jar.
  • The School Board Superintendent that states the only reason a parent is stressed over busing is because they chose not to end a pregnancy.
  • The tsking church member at children for making noise, but then excuses the child with Autism (yes treating different is the same thing).
  • Or be the tsking church member stating “they do not belong here.” (or the one in the pulpit kicking them out for making a joyful noise).
  • Or the person that believes they need healing and so will invade personal space without consent to lay hands on for prayer
  • Or refuse to pray when they have an operation, because if they pass it is God’s will.
  • Shaming community/family into always grieving the “should’ve/would’ve/could’ve of a life.
  • Complaining that budgets can’t be made because of “those people with disabilities”
  • Being the City of Calgary and ranking sidewalks, bike paths, public paths, and public cut outs and public transit stops as low priority so mobility device users are left as shut ins during winter.
  • Event planners that have no way for full inclusion.
  • Are the agency that toss a new staff into changing an incontinent client, without taking into account that is a very intimate work and perhaps even if you do not believe the person is cognitively aware, still deserves respect.
  • Argue over what a living wage pension is for someone that cannot work, but finds meaning in volunteering.
  • Strips universal pharma care when they become a senior
  • Share the “short bus” or “window licking” meme jokes on social media and wonder why there is outrage.
  • Speak of vaccines being the cause—when if there is not proper vaccinations lives are at risk.
  • Showing up for support work sick because well, a little cold or flu won’t be harmful to the compromised immune system.
  • Grief and mental health support are not necessary because they don’t understand…
  • Shaming individuals for weakness because of equipment or pharmaceutical needs.

And yes the list can go on for ever… and I am sure many readers can add their own stories. It is when you remain in the unenlightened, not letting the Mystery churn, that these points are where you live. You completely miss what Jesus meant by the glory revealed. That is, that the they could see what was told about the beauty of God in creation:

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind (humanity) in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

-Genesis (NIV) 1:26

The introductory poem to the texts of the Hebrew Bible does not rhyme words as in English. It rhymes ideas, concepts to show the true interconnectedness of the created cosmos. Not to answer the how it happened question, but the WHY? Why did this come together like this? For us to live, and grow and as Day 6 reflects, humanity in all its forms are reflections of the Holy Mystery. We must release the fear/hatred/prejudice that sees difference as less than. Jesus was asked who sinned…No one was his response. The person reflects the beauty of the cosmic spark of life. To truly show that everyone belongs, and that with allowing for authentic belonging, life needs to be done differently. We need to be like the child.

That is open to all as neighbour-friend. No labels. Just knowing what needs to be done to the building, civic design, laws, legislation, policies, governmental money entitlements, universalizing health care and pharmacare. The example laid out in the gospel, that was the 6th day of ancient Hebrew poetry. We are all here for a reason. We take all forms. We are here to support one another, where one has an ability, another has a weakness. We are all different. Really it is the underlying ethos of many belief systems (religious or not) that are put aside. We are neighbours, individuals (and possibly ourselves) who experience life as a person with a disability-differently abled- complex needs- special needs—choose the term the person uses to identify themselves with (as with gender, it is not hard folks).

As the circle is danced wider, we as humans cannot rationalize not having a scapegoat. Sadly, that scapegoat can still be seen as the differently abled (as my son chooses to identify) or myself with a rather unique brain mapping that confounds most outside of my own brain. Yet we can still be looked down upon, still pushed and pointed at.

What is wrong with you?

Is the new sneered question. One asked many times of my son in religious settings. Though he was fully embraced by those I had served who themselves were marginalized, his passion for loving others was encouraged and so was his curiosity.

What is wrong with you? Has the world’s most simple answer:

NOTHING.

If you cannot experience that, then perhaps the question needs to be, what is blocking you from fully being present in community with your neighbour? What is stopping you from being apart, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu phrased it, the rainbow family of God?

We are apart of the beautiful rainbow family that is humanity, with celebrating and living into our diversity we are stronger.


Humboldt- A small trucking company (1 driver, and 1 owner) had one of their 2 trucks accidentally go through a hockey bus on a snow-covered Saskatchewan high way killing many. A nation is in mourning, as in a country the land mass of Canada regardless of your extra-curricular growing up, you have been the child on the bus, and your parents have been the parent awaiting the arrival. Yet the on-set of social media which can do good, and allow connectedness can even twist this to their own gain. Freelance writers with dumb tweets, special interest group memes trying to get their issues back in national focus, alternative media fundraising, and those Nazi fringes spinning conspiracy theories because of the ethnicity of the company owner.  Then there is the backlash SJW’s (the extremists within the political spectrum) threatening violence from fisticuffs to murder to rape against those that were by any moral or ethical compass being uncivilized.

Now, seriously folks, why are we making the dumbass personal gainers the superstars? Why are you sharing their info to “fame-shame”? Therefore, social media has complaint processes, let it die in the dust bin, report, and move on the focus to where it should be. Let the light shine and confuse/destroy the darkness, not let the darkness envelope.

Show some humanity, and keep the focus on those involved and the ripples it has created of grief and mourning as we process through.

Syria- Violence should always be a last resort. This weekend we were shown what making a decision between two bad choices can look like. Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and Vice President Pence stated it best (my summation) no one wants to see bombing, but something has to be done in this situation. President Trump of the USA was shamed, lets be honest into leading the air strike France and Britain were already planning, and Canada was supporting.

Why? Assad’s chemicalized weapon gassing of his own civilians (Sarin the type used).  For those who feel it should’ve been a UN mission, this would not historically have been possible, because you would not have gotten Russian onside, which is a historic supporter of Syria. The first Cold War created a slew of issues around the world, with Syria being the latest to have a light shone on it.

Yet, when left with the atrocity, the world needed to respond to show evil that it will not go unpunished. Sadly, evil also hides its factories of death (much like the rest of the world) amongst civilians. These people are not collateral damage, they are humans, that need aid. It is a crisis that once again shows the entrenchment of the extremes. From those cheering Trump and his, Mission accomplished tweet, egging on more violence; to the other extreme trying to make comparisons that Syria should bomb the western world for tear gas/pepper spray of protesters, dirty drinking water and/or mandating vaccines.

What would be helpful, is what Pope Francis always states, first you pray (Contemplate) then you act. Acknowledge the horror, acknowledge the hard choice made…then get the money needed to the on the ground aid organizations to aid the innocents trapped in the middle of it whether it be MSF, Red Cross, Red Cresecent or another…do the research and donate if you are able. If not able to get aid there, do something to make your community better, more welcoming of those displaced. Writer your government officials pointing out that we need to help those who are in need and displaced, create spaces of education, understanding, and well, be neighbourly. Actually, act humanely, and if you claim a religious belief and your response is on either of the extremes, I challenge you to truly go into your master teacher/gurus/prophets/saviours teachings and see what they would do.

Calgary Board of Education– During the summer bussing crisis I was on the news with my fairly blunt statement that the CBE (Board and Administration) do not see Complex Learning needs (nee special needs; kids with disabilities) as full persons with the way they are always scape goated; short changed and treated. The waffling on mandatory vaccinations shows this for those with compromised immune systems. The trickling out of audit results showing misappropriation of funds that was blamed on sky rocketing CLN enrollment they were not expecting (despite decades of data showing this trend to hit) to now CLN transitions, having schools post newsletters to websites without the announcement e-mail as usual, as transition planning is up in the air. The CBE is stating a downturn in enrollment within the community, yet just in October was crying crisis… Transition is hard for CLN families, you are trusting an institution completely with your child, who may or may not have the complete ability to communicate in a way that other children can; change can be hard so as you prepare for a transition year (ala grade 6, grade 9) to go into something new, to have it dashed it creates turmoil in a community that thrives in structure.  CBE, I am tired of the lies and coverups…I am tired of my kid and his friends being your emotional puppets…get it together and show you give a damn.

UCP/WRP– Bill 9, the buffer bill was debated in the Alberta Legislature this week. It is for safe zones around abortion clinics to stop the harassment, threats, abuse and assaults on patients and staff from the “Anti-Abortionists” (nothing pro-life about them). The UCP, her majesty’s Loyal Opposition provincially, walked out, would not go on the record one way or the other. Even though Leader Kenney stated votes like this would be left to his MLA’s conscience. Follow up was Kenney posting a video mansplaining what women need in Alberta (what a train wreck).  I am not a fan of the PC/WRP/UCP. I have served and seen the devastation Kleinonomics caused in Alberta infrastructure and those in need, and creating a bursting poverty service industry. I saw parallels in the UCP Movement, with the CPC movement federally, and feel for Red Tories provincially shoved out (I was one of you federally working on policy shoved out). But it does not surprise me. I remember a few provincial elections ago in my riding (honestly I cannot remember which candidate I was supporting NDP/Liberal/Communist), but we came home and the WRP Candidate’s campaign had been by, seeing our sign, they vandalized our yard leaving their literature nailed to trees and house. Phoning the WRP office the response was “what do you want us to do about it, free speech”.  My only hope is in 2020, Albertans vote for the moderation and discussion of ideas, not ideological entrenchment and screaming matches. Check the rage, and get back to the constitutional responsibility of good governance, the opposition is there to propose improvements or alternatives, not simply oppose.

Reproductive Rights– The attestation box has got the religious right in Canada in a bit of a tizzy. It essentially covers that you won’t contravene the Constitution or Charter or reproductive rights. Some of my alma matters have lost out on summer students because they won’t check the box. And as someone who has been a pastor, spiritual leader, and once (and still struggles to be in) the tribe of Christianities. I am tired of it.

  1. If you are going to say it is only about abortion—well then do your work to create a world where every baby conceived is wanted. Do your work to silence those that are the cause of the buffer zone bill.
  2. It is about more than that though. It is about the autonomy and control of one’s own body. As I have written before it is about control over one’s own body and decision whether to breed. It is about deciding if you want to be fixed or not, regardless of your specialists’ religiosity. More than that, it is also an acknowledgement of the Christianities detrimental and harmful behaviour of perpetuating domestic violence and control; of leading the charge of sterilization of whom they viewed as inferior during the eugenics time (which in Alberta was up into the 1980’s) and included persons with disabilities. Before we meme a black and white pity party martyrdom, let us actually sit and listen, and understand what we have done to do harm.

 

Olympic Bid- With the information the City Council has made available I am firmly against an Olympic bid. I am not in favour of a plebiscite on the issue, what I would like is the city non-partisanly providing the information for Calgarians to then make a decision via contacting their elected official, or online polling much like we do with census. The key is the information. I have a hunch, that the city is yearning for a return to the volunteerism magic of 1988. It was great, I was a kid, the energy was amazing. We were a city coming out of recession, reclaiming glory, and having a good time showing the world our stuff.

I would love to say round 2 would be just as great, yet do we have the substantial volunteer base? Business sponsorship? Many things to be asked, that no one (at least being reported in a transparent way) is willing to get out there.  But much like populist politics to the south migrating north, what we have is a shouting match of buffoonery.  Please just provide info and allow for citizens input or no matter what happens it will become a cluster because the other entrenchment will seek to ensure failure.

IOOFLet’s end with some, did you know trivia. Travelling in Vulcan, Alberta (yes my Trekkie is showing and I am proud). First, having supper with a buddy one night we were talking about the shrinking service organization/fraternal organization/mainline church membership and how shared space may be a solution. Low and behold the wife chuckles as she sees the Lions and Masons sharing a hall, then we loop a corner by Quark’s and see IOOF. The curiousity kicks in. What is that?

A google search at home: Independent Order of Odd Fellows (and Rebekahs) one of them fraternal orders, historically out of 19th century England. A response to the Christianities Empire of only doing good works for praise and paradise. The response was simply to be apart of an organization to do good without praise. Hence they were termed by mainstream society as Odd Fellows. To which my wife laughed and said, “always said you were an odd fellow.”

-30-


Weird things wind up in one’s mailbox with alumni associations like the one I have with Ambrose University. Like today, where a trial copy of Faith Today with their ½ price subscription offer to alumni and free trial magazine. Now the Evangelical Fellowship is not my theological cup of tea (I know it must shock long time readers), yet the issue contained a 2-page article on inclusion of those with disability within the church community. It started to open a conversation I have been banging away at for decades…church is a place where all are to belong. It is not about creating a “program” or a “ministry for” it is about doing life together and with, it is about valuing the individual for who they are and have been created to be not seeing anyone as less than or in need of healing to fit our schema of wholeness (holiness).

It goes deeper than the functionality of the building. Although physical accessibility is a bonus within a building structure, that is nuts and bolts that can be fixed/adapted. What is harder is changing the heart of the community to full inclusion and acceptance of the wonders that will be opened through the different perspectives that exist across the spectrum of ability.

It was a good article because it was from the perspective of parents who have journeyed like we have as a family, so I thought a little good news in my mail box deserved some good news in cyberspace. For those in Calgary here are 3 spiritual homes we have found that are more the later than the former when it comes to inclusion:

3) St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church

2) Centennial Presbyterian Church

1) Robert McClure United Church

Remember when we are called to love neighbour as ourselves…it is because we all exist within the Holy Mystery and the Holy Mystery exists within us…and no mistakes were made but perfect as we are meant to be.