You Say You Love Me But…

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You know my story. Three homegrown kids, three adopted from Korea. Two with autism and other disabilities. You know how hard we have worked to create this family by pouring our souls and our finances into getting exactly what our children need to succeed as they inch closer to becoming tax-paying adults.

You have been with us through our pregnancy issues and through our long and precarious adoption processes. You have stood beside us we were challenged to take on the school system and the medical establishment. You listened to my tears on those days where hour-long meltdowns were a common place occurrence and when our hearts were broken by  diagnoses that initially seemed as if they would be impossible to traverse. (They weren’t).

This YOU I am referring to is…you… my aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and best friends. The people I have known and loved for a life-time.You… the people who have stood by my side through thick and thin for so many years. You…the people who have treated my kids like their own. I adore you, but at this moment in time, I must confess that I am confused. You tell me you me and love all of my children equally.  You assure me my boys are amazing. You also say that my daughters are intelligent and talented young women. And you tell me you would like your Caucasian son to marry my Asian daughter someday.  And yet, you also tell me you are voting for Trump. I just cannot wrap my head around this because the YOU that I know cares deeply about others and asks WWJD?

And so I have to ask, how can you vote for a man who makes fun of people with disabilities? People like my children who struggle for acceptance. Individuals, who like my boys, just want the same opportunities as those who aren’t in wheelchairs and are sighted. You of all people know of our family struggles because you have held my sons hands when they were sobbing because they have been bullied, yet again, and you were livid at the way they had been treated. Yet, you support a MAN who should know better yet makes fun of the disabled anyway. Where is your righteous anger at him?

You know that there are millions of disabled in this world who are thrown off public transportation or denied jobs because of their autism or missing limbs. We’ve talked about this and you have expressed your dismay. So why is it that you do not understand that if the leader of the USA bullies the disadvantaged, that he setting the framework for how we are to treat one another? That Trump is, in effect, telling the school yard bully that it is okay to intimidate your kid and anyone within arms reach . Don’t you realize that these kinds of hurtful/shameful behaviors will increase and once again reach into my home? The home of people that you say you love!

Why would you support a man who promotes bigotry and hatred especially when you know that this increases the chances of MY children being hurt or killed by people who profess a dislike for those that are “different” from them? You’ve heard other children call my kids “Chinese eyes” as they pulled back on their own, mocking them, and trying in some way to make them feel “less than.” You have seen first-hand the hurt in my children’s eyes and their confidence shattered. Why would you throw your weight behind someone who promotes the worst in human behavior instead of the best? Why would you stand behind someone who promotes an “us vs. them” mentality that will be divisive instead of uniting? And when this promotion of hatred undoubtedly explodes into something unfathomable will you willingly acknowledge the blood on your hands because you stood with the man who was promoting it?

As if the above was not enough; what I really don’t understand is how you can support a man who disparages women, cheats on them and makes inappropriate sexual remarks about them. We all have mothers, sisters, and daughters that we value and love. If your mother or daughter was being treated in a disrespectful manner or subjected to sexual harassment by their boss or a man on the corner would you laugh about it and dismiss it the way you do with Mr. Trump? I would hope not because if you do what kind of person does that make you? Seriously. THINK ABOUT IT.

I could go on about Mr. Trump not paying small business people which quickly puts them out of business. And I could wonder why you would elect someone who can’t keep his own financial affairs in order and refused to rent to people of color. And I could wonder about a man who cheats on his spouse, lies under oath, and takes only the best for himself. But what I really care about is how Trump treats others… and that is what worries me. He acts as if he is entitled…. to dismiss reporters doing their job… to tease people who are different from him…to bully women and minorities while promoting discord and hate. These derogatory ways of treating others are the signs of a man who has lost his sense of humanity, his ethics, and his ability to promote and live in a virtuous manner. He is a man who lacks the understanding that most people are not born in the lap of luxury that he was and has no clue of what it is like to live the way most people do. He didn’t earn his wealth. It was inherited. Why would you vote for someone who is that out of touch with you and your situation?

So, when November rolls around and you go to cast your ballot, before you do, I want you to think about my children and how much you love them. I want you to remember all the wonderful women in your life. I want you think about the disabled, the poor, the elderly, and all the people who you respect and love who do not look like you. And consider this… that a vote for Trump is a vote against people like me who love their children with challenges. A vote for Trump is a vote against all the females in your lives. And a vote for Trump is a vote against kids who do not have the same invisible privileges that their white parents do. So think of me when you vote. Consider why I might be fearful for all those beautiful faces within my family if you vote for this Republican. Please… just yourself in my shoes… because someday you or a loved one might be walking in them.

“Principles of justice are principles that rational, self-interested people would choose to govern the society in which they were going to live, provided that they did not know, at the time they chose the principles, exactly what their own place in society would be.” – James Rachel’s forward  to John Rawl’s  book, Two Concepts of Rules.

The Fallacy Of Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps

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I confess I used to be on a BB in which a majority of the people were conservative Christians. I left the group because many people on this BB have made repeated attacks on those who are down in their luck,those who are poor, and those who are anything but white, etc. They constantly espouse the belief that Obama wants to take care of all these “losers” at the expense of all these good God fearing tax payers. Of course the word, Socialism has recently been introduced to instill more fear and justify their irrational hatred of Obama. In fact one person went so far as to write:

“The poor keep getting poorer because they keep doing whatever it was that made them poor in the first place. Ditto for the rich. There is nothing at all unexpected or unforseen about the behavior that’s responsible for most of the poverty in this country. If you ignore your education, fail to develop a work ethic, do drugs, get pregnant before you’re out of high school or before you can afford to raise a child, become a petty criminal, join a gang, hang with what you obviously know to be the wrong crowd, become a drinker, or generally comport yourself like a self-loathing slob, guess what? You’re probably not going to make a lot of money!” 

The tragedy of it all…their children are ethnic minorities in this country and many insist that their white male children have it so much harder than their non-caucasian kids. WHATTTTTTT!!!!??????

So let’s take a minute and examine the above statement and those types of thoughts that go with it. Let’s examine those persons in the military/captains of business and industry who have used their parents positions/connections and money to circumvent the system to get opportunities that others deserved. They use the political and economic systems for personal gain not based on merit but on these types of connections. And they use them in order to increase their wealth and to grab power or prestige . Even worse is their sense of entitlement to those positions. It is truly mind boggling. We don’t have to look very far to find examples of these types of people. Do the names Bush  and Trump ring a bell? Frankly, these are the people that are far more dangerous to me than any two-bit hooker. Plenty of rich people hang with the wrong crowd, become drinkers, fail to develop a work ethic, etc. Yet, they have the luxury of money, connections and family to sustain them and even promote them to places they do not deserve to be. A lot of people with higher grades/SATS etc do not get into Ivy League schools where these connections are further developed and strengthened because someone’s Daddy knows someone, they have donated to the school, or their parents have attended.It’s a system that serves to preserve itself at the expense of the less fortunate.

When I think about these issues I am reminded of that fact that during the Vietnam war many kids were able to avoid serving or served in positions that kept them in the states due to the positions/connections their parents held. People can become officers in the military because they can get into the academy that “normal” people cannot or someone who is truly deserving to be there is denied due to those connections. So to try to make the case that the poor stay poor because of their “laziness” while the rich get richer due to their “implied” hard work is not often true.

But even more troubling to me is this. So many of these conservative Christians tout the “Pick Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” mentality. And finally we have a president who stands before them having done just that. And instead of giving him the kudos for doing what they insist all people should do and using his achievements as an inspiration for others; they turn around and renounce him. So what exactly is it that a black man is suppose to do? Stay at the bottom rung of society where you are chastised and beaten down? Or rise to the top and then you are labeled an elitist and a terrorist to boot. And if the truth be told many of these people don’t want people of color to succeed because it goes against their idea of ‘what things SHOULD look like if all is right with their world.

So the next time you hear the spiel about bootstraps and Obama acknowledge it for what it really is…racism cloaked in “proper talk ” attempting to hide the fact it is just plain hate mongering. And please, stand up and correct the intentional distortion of facts that are presented as “Truth” on Fox News to the perpetrators of your conversation. For the only way that all of mankind will be free is when hate is no longer  tolerated.

The Shooting At The Regional Center Touches Too Close To Home

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As I listen to the news about yet another mass shooting I wonder where did we go wrong? As individuals, as a society, as a nation and as citizens of the world? So much hate. So much misunderstanding. Too much religious influence. Too much disregard for others and ourselves. Too much interference in other nations foreign policy with its resulting unintended consequences.

My sons are served by the local Regional Center (RC) where we live. The RC serves individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders and mental retardation. They have allocated ABA services to my boys for several years and help with planning for their future. The people who work there are kind, loving and passionate people who work within the system to get their clients what they need so that they can live meaningful lives and reach their full potential. They are social workers, humanitarians and people trying to make a difference in this world. These are the kind of individuals who work at the RC…underpaid, overworked and empathetic in recognizing that disabled persons are often beat down by a society that ridicules those who are different. Most of all they try to give their clients and their families hope for their themselves and their loved ones with uncertain futures.

In the many years we have been served by the RC many of these case workers have become my friends as we spend time together trying to navigate a system in which the disabled have an unequal playing field where unemployment is rampant and the disabled are not seen nor heard. These RC workers often become of the voices for those who have little resources to take their concerns to the forefront of the political system.

Yesterday, I first became aware that something was not right with the RC when I received a phone call in the early afternoon. I picked up the phone to hear, “This is an emergency phone call. This is an emergency phone call. The Regional Centers will be open tomorrow.” Odd, I thought. Later I turned on the news and witnessed the carnage. I was horrified moreso than ever before, meaning ALL the unending shootings that have become a way of life for a country that in of itself is not suppose to be in a war zone.

So why did this particular act of violence have such an impact on me? Because I knew of these people. No, not the people who were murdered but I do know their co-workers in a different center and I shudder to think if it had been this RC instead. How, I wondered, would I explain this to my children had it happened here? How would I make them feel like the world was a safe place after walking through RC doors for so many years? How will the clients served by the Inland RC ever feel safe again in a world that already feels unsafe by many people who are autistic? How do you explain to a child that some people just view others as pawns in a game that is played with unwilling participants? How do you teach children to trust in a world in which just anyone can randomly shoot you in a restaurant, at work, on the soccer field, or at a concert; especially a child with autism who has already been bullied one time too often in his short life? How do you make them feel safe again?

The true answer is that you can’t because the shooters have taken away something that cannot be replaced with platitudes and pundit ideology…trust and the feeling of being safe. Yet, my kids have also learned that when bad happens that the response in the face of tragedy is the opposite. So while they saw sadness on the tv screen they also saw hugs, embraces, tears and people standing together to face adversity. But most of all they saw the love that fellow human beings can show one another and that defeats everything the terrorists stand for every single time.

 

 

 

Hatred Is Not The Answer-Terrorists

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I’ve been to Paris three times during my life. The first was almost thirty years ago during our honeymoon, the second time was about five years later and recently we went two summers ago. Like most major cities, I have tended to avoid Paris because there are just too many people in too small of a place. I feel the same way about London, Beijing and New York. So when I frequent these places, I am already on edge. But usually then I meet people who have stories to tell, tears to fall and a love of life that is extraordinary and somehow these big cities become almost magical because I am reminded just how similar we all are in our shared dreams and in our desires.

The last time we were in Paris we were traveling with our children. Around the corner from our hotel was a bank of small restaurants and sandwich-to-go types of places. We entered one of the latter. It was a small place and behind the counter were three men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent and spoke Arabic to one another. When they heard us talking with our distinctive American accents immediately their faces hardened. Then when I went to order for our family all of a sudden the place was CLOSED. They were no longer serving they told us. Yet, after we walked outside all of a sudden they were serving again to the lady who ordered a tomato baguette. So I went back in to order only to be told again that they were not open even though there were more new customers being helped. I was mad and sad about the situation but what was worse is that my children were witnessing this and wondered why they would not let us buy their food. And so I told them this:

“For some reason these men do not like us. I do not know why and neither do you. If I had to guess I would say that they were probably hurt or their relatives were probably hurt in some way by American policies or forces. They are probably still upset or angry by this. Of course, we will never know the real reason and I am guessing only to try to understand why someone would hate us even though we have never ourselves done anything to them. So this is why we cannot hate because hatred begets hatred. Anger creates more anger and people do things to one another that they should not. So I want you remember today not because of what happened but because of how we will handle it. For if we let it, the small thing they did to us will someday make us think that we can do something to someone we think has wronged us. But what is most important here is that we must remember that our lives as human beings are linked together in so many mysterious and interesting ways to people we know and people we don’t. If we allow this link of distrust and anger into the chain of humanity that we carry with us it will only create sorrow both for us and others that we will unintentionally effect by this hostility. So we must smile at those men and show them that we see their humanity even though they do not see ours.”

And so we did.

I wish I could say something changed and one of the men smiled back but that did not happen.

Tonight as I sat and watched the news pouring out of the City Of Lights I was dismayed as I listened to the political pundits demanding retribution, retaliation and encouraging a decrease in our hard fought freedoms (as if that will make things safer!) so the world will be a “better place” and I wished that they had been with us that day in Paris. For while the experience of being hated just because of where you come from was a bitter disappointment; I also know that my children learned a valuable lesson on that street in Paris that day. They realized that hatred is not the answer. I hope that calm heads will prevail in Paris and that human beings throughout the world will remember this truth too as they struggle to find a way through the carnage that they have seen and endured.