Saturday, March 24, 2007

New Questions / Different Answers





I spent the day interviewing candidates for an internal posting. We are looking for sexual health educators and a wackload of staff had applied for the position. Angela and I had looked over their resumes and their letters of application and then the interviews began.

As always, these days, I was struck at the youth of those coming forward. But I was also struck by the incredible maturity of each person we spoke with. They had all come with experience, all had worked for a while in the field of disability.

But these kids have come from the brave new world of community living. My first job was in an institution. There wasn't even really the slightest idea that those in cages could be those in community. We did our best to give a quality of life, but in fact, we were captors - plain and simple. Our discussion about those in our care at our staff meetings didn't focus on 'people' not really - we focused on problems and programmes, progress and punishments. It was so very simple.

We would never have sat around and talked about rights - to relationships, to education, to choices of partners. We would never have talked about heart and head and hand. We just wouldn't have.

But they did today. They all knew what it took me years to understand.

That people, all people, have rights.

That people, all people, can love.

That people, all people, deserve respect.

I don't think that any of them learned these things from staff trainings, from retreats or books or lectures. I think they learned them from simply working in the community, with community values and community contact. I think that they didn't have to open their eyes to rights - because their eyes had never been closed to the idea.

It's going to be ok.

We're going the distance.


Anonymous said...

Dave, I know. It is going to be ok - it really is. We must be patient on one hand and on the other make it urgent! It is exciting and it really is changing. Keep sharing your insight, your learning and experiences. The more hope there is the more engergy we have to keep it movin!

Thanks again for another story of hope. I love them.

lina said...

Interesting new world, great new reality - and it is going to be ok - we must believe that.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave-Captor,I think not.But for you and people like you,the disabled would still be in those jails.And by the way, my eyes certainly did require some prying open.It wasn't really that they were closed, but I sure couldn't see as well as I can now.I still remember asking my friend in "the field"-well, what ARE they're rights? And she patiently and gently said"they are the same as yours and mine"Duh.And I know why.Because they are the same as you and me.Frances

Anonymous said...

We're still a long long way from broad recognition that there are not two separate sets of rights for people without disabilities and people with disabilities (especially people with intellectual disabilities). And people closest to the situation are often the worst offenders. But I agree with Dave that there are some important attitude shifts going on that have nothing to do with training in the field, and it is very encouraging! There is definitely reason to be positive.