Sunday, January 13, 2008

Left v Right

"A camel is a horse designed by a committee."

I've always foung that quote very funny, perhaps because I've sat in so many committees and discussed so much minutia as if it was important. Don't get me wrong, I think collaboration is wonderful and two minds definately are better than one, but somehow those concepts go out the window as soon as a committee is established. Even so, after all these years of sitting in those meetings, my mind has become organized into a little committee of it's own.

This came clear to me yesterday morning as I was working on what my mind now calls the 'Black Armband Action'. I was thinking about todays blog, the one I was writing now, and what kind of information people who are joining in might find helpful. So I looked up on the computer, "What arm do you wear a black armband on?" I swear to the heavens that this is true. And when I got the answer 'left side' I was almost (weirdly) jubulent. I had something of import to say. Then, because it would make everything more interesting, I set out to find out why you wear a black armband on the left side. What a fine bit that would make for a blog.

Well, to my utter disappointment, no one knows - the guess is that people wear it on the left side because most are right handed and it is easier to tie it on the left side. "AH HA," I think, desperate to make this relevant. "Maybe we should all wear it on the right side, denoting that we all need help to get by." I actually blushed with pride at that little idea and imagined writing a blog with that as the message.

Then, this morning, I googled Brent Martin's name again. This time I found the testimony of a youngster who had witnessed Brent's horrific beating death. The details are too disturbing to even print here. After finishing the article I sat there staring at the computer screen. I realized how the committee in my mind had done what committee's often do, it had lost sight of the purpose and got caught up in details.

I don't care if people wear it on the left or the right. I doesn't matter. What does matter is that people wear one. It doesn't matter if people wear it for a week, like I have decided to, or a day. All that matters is that people wear it, just for a time, and tell everyone that asks about Brent Martin. About the devaluing of the lives of people with disabilities. About the shameful lack of media attention focused on crimes against those with disabilities. About the lack of recognition of people with disabilities as victims of hate. About how we've had enough, that we will act as a community that loves each other, that mourns together. That a crime against one, is a crime against all.

Beside me in the trash bin are all my notes, the ones I made yesterday as I searched 'black ribbon' on the computer. There are only two rules ...

Wear it where you want.

Say what you need to say.

And we'll do fine.


Casdok said...

That a crime against one, is a crime against all.
Well said.
Brent Martin-tragic death and as you rightly say shameful of the press. So so sad, my heart goes out to his family.
Even though we have come along way it just shows we have not come far enough.

Anonymous said...

My husband read the news article yesterday about Brent Martin. I know that this sounds strange, but I felt some relieve that I had my partner share the devastating details with me -- because the story is so horrific, and I found myself thinking about Brent's attack over and over and over.

By sharing Brent's story, and your story, I am able to move past the violence and see Brent. My husband and I talk more about who Brent was, opposed to me focusing on what happened to him.

Our son has Down syndrome, and I don't want him to absorb my fear of "what could happen". But reading about Brent Martin, is helping me to shape future plans to help Gabriel with self-advocacy.

I don't want those three violent monsters to steal from Brent any longer. I don't want them stealing the joy of life and the love of our humankind from my son, and from all of the community of people facing different challenges.

So, I am focusing on what Brent accomplished with his life. And, I think at 23 years of age, having lived with developmental challenges, I think he did alright.

Don't know what or why my point is, but this week's dialogue inspired by your writing, is making really think about giving a voice to my son.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that wearing the armband on the left side may have meant that it (like so many military and other decorations) would be closer to your heart.

Belinda said...

I switched arms--I had automatically put it on my right arm, but I like what Andrea said. I want it nearest my heart.

My husband asked why I was wearing a black armband this morning. I told him about Brent. He said,"But there are so many that are forgotten; so many wrongs done."

I said, "Well, Brent's name will be known by the end of this week.

This morning I'm teaching a Sunday School class to a bunch of 6-10 year olds. The class is on creation. What an opportunity to teach that God created each person with equal care and purpose and everyone matters infinitely. I can't wait for them to ask why I'm wearing a black arm band. I will be careful with the details of course.

Mine will be on for the week.

Thank you Dave and fellow blogee's for prompting this statement and turning it into an opportunity to tell people about Brent, but more importantly that violence is hateful and everyone is precious.

Betsy said...


I have written about Brent, and you, in my blog today.

Thank you for honouring him in this way.


Belinda said...

16 kids and 1 teenage helper listened in the Sunday School class. By the end they all chorused the name, "Brent," when I asked them if they remembered.

There was one little boy who is a visible minority and one little girl with Downs Syndrome in the class, but the kids opened up about being taunted over wearing glasses--any kind of difference.

Friends at church asked why I was wearing the band and one, Frances, donned a fuzzy black scrunchie with tears in her eyes, while Susan read the newspaper article I'd taken copies with me of, and I know that she had tears too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave-I must say how filled with horror I was after reading about Brent. The line that struck me the most was his murderers' utterance-'I wont go down for a muppet' The last time I checked a muppet couldn't take the bus by itself, on its' way to whatever adventure or exploration or even mundane going from A to B. Forgive me but how about just 'going down' for your horrific taking of anothers' life? Because however 'disabled' he may have appeared to you, his life was his own and not yours to take. I'm going to shut up now because frankly I have very little else that is good to say and a ton of bad.Forgive me,gentle readers and please pray for me and my judgementalism.Frances

Anonymous said...

I have also been haunted by Brent's story because of the horrible nature of it.

However it seemed somehow familiar, as if I had heard it before. I could not remember why until tonight. This has happened before, to a man with Down syndrome.

There is a book. "Danny: The Murder of a Man With Down syndrome."

I have it on my shelf but had forgotten about it since I read it several years ago. I am not sure why I had it at all, maybe because he had his own business, was financially independent?

I don't know, but I have it... it's there and someone wrote a book about Danny. I think it was a great way to honor him.

Maybe Dave, you can do the same for Brent? I can think of no one more qualified than you.

Thank you, for bringing everyone's attention to this.