Saturday, March 21, 2009

A ranting reaction

"It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference." --Helen Keller

I began yesterday by writing a long, long post on the heals of president Obama's ignorant comment on the Tonight Show. I took the night to think and have decided to break up the post into several posts because my response was to much and to angry for just one post. So here is my first post - a reaction to the comments of and the reaction to, the Presidents words. I tend not to be political, and I don't believe the presidents comments have any thing to do with politics, they have to do with ignorance.
I thought twice about posting my disgust with this, but I want to keep this blog honest so I will speak the truth of my heart, or maybe better put, the ranting truth of my heart. So here it goes:

The President called his inept bowling "Like Special Olympics" On the Tonight Show. A simple slip up some say, but I say the fruit of stupid talk that must ensue more places than on national TV. Radio show hosts and the like have already spun it into a political debate, with out care for anyone who has a disability. Tim Shriver, president of the Special Olympics has embraced the Presidents "moving" apology, saying the President did not intend to humiliate this population. He spoke on the news this morning about making sure we talk about people with special needs in "an affirming way"?? In his apology Mr. Obama spoke how the Special Olympics are a triumph of human spriit??? Already a solution for the whole issue has already been decided... The President will get a great photo op, bowling with our reining Special Olympic bowling champion, showing just how much he cares for people with disabilities. The term has already entered slang dictionaries on the web, which will certainly add to the cutting use of the word "retard" heard regularly in any public square. Even if it was just a slip of the tongue, when the most powerful man in the world today says something it becomes a powerful statement. It leads people to a view of people with mental disabilities being bad, untalented, uncoordinated, unathletic, not normal or just plain negative, and that is the least of the damage.
So lets speak to the truth of this, people with disabilities are more threatened now than ever. New policies and the lack of any moral standard has and will wipe out many people before they get to be born and makes it hard for them to live if they are born. People with mental disabilities function in a system we have set up for them. It is designed to simulate the freedoms of real life but in an controlled environment, where they are numbered, funded, and controlled. They go through schools where IEP's falsely address issues that students deal with, In school they learn to be independent and live with rights. Eventually they get out into the real world; a job in a workshop (sorting nuts and bolts for 25 years), saturday night disability dances (aint it cute), Special Olympics (everybody's a winner), and meetings of Handicapped United (they need a voice) and other made up nonsense. Don't get me wrong, there is much good (people and programs) within any of these institutions, but if you look closely they are set up as simulations of what (normal) people feel, looks like real life. Where is the church in all of this? Some are doing compassionate ministry to "the least of these", others are putting them up on angelic pedestals of proof of God's love through healing, overcoming or childlike faith, many still believe disability is the result of sin, and still others seem to ignore them totally. (Again don't get me wrong there is much good going on in a few churches, but look closely and most of the christian world, but they have no idea what to do with disability). So in the end the church is silent to the real need and cruises along without them
We live in a time when it is totally acceptable to reduce a people group to those "we need to speak about in an affirming way". In other words our attitudes, hatefulness and bad intentions should always be covered by sweet words of compassion. The reality is that those in power believe those who have disabilities are a monstrously horrible group that is a drain on society and need to be eliminated even before birth, and thats OK as long as you smile, say affirming words and pat heads when you do it. Meanwhile most people of the world may not agree with that, but we sit by and do nothing so the elimination of this group continues.
There is only one place this advance of evil doing can be stopped, it is the church. We must stand up and realize we must protect those with disabilities. We need them, Our body is not full with out them and will never be full if they do not exist. We live in a time where the "dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference will lead to disaster", disaster we will shed tears about as we enter heaven having failed to see a gift God had given us ...disability


  1. Interesting that this is the first comment. Hard messages aren't easy to comment on but Tony, I truly appreciate your heart and boldness to speak out. Only the truth can truly set people free if they choose to receive it. Hopefully, slowly but surely, Living Hope Church is starting to make a move towards grasping the message and living it out in ministry for Him. Don't ever lose hope. That is the ministry of THE LIVING HOPE to us. With God, all things are possible. Love ya, Tony. I am so glad you are part of my family.

  2. Thanks for the moving words of despair and hope. You said what most of us wanted to say but could not seem to express.

  3. Yes, President Obama made an ignorant comment. And yes, he apologized (which to many was insufficient). But step back a little a look at a bigger picture. He is of our generation. We grew up in a society that used derogatory terms & hid people with disabilities away. Those words are still there down deep. I think for people who don't work, socialize or otherwise interact with people with disabilities, sometimes those words just pop up without thought. (Yes, we should all think before we speak. But every one of us is guilty of speaking first at one time or another.)
    Another way to look at his future "photo op" with Special Olympic bowlers is this is good press. People who did not know of the athletic prowess of these competitors may now say, "Wow! They're good. Way better than me." And may now look at these athletes, and hopefully all people with disabilities, in a new light and with admiration and respect.
    The best part of all the publicity and awareness created in the last 10 or so years, is that the next generation will grow up to think a person with a disability is no different from them. Much like our generation grew up with naturally accepting African-Americans as equals without giving it another thought. It is human nature to resist change and history has proven that huge societal changes occur over a long period of time -- not overnight.
    You know the old adage to always look for the silver lining in a black cloud. Look at this as a wonderful opportunity to spread your message. This is a new civil rights, and respect, fight. March on, brothers and sisters!

    Sorry, but you know me -- I have to argue EVERYTHING. :D It's not personal; just what I'm trained to do. xoxo

  4. I agree with "anonymous" about the fact that maybe a positive light can be shed on the attention that an appearence from the President could bring to the disability community. What I can't agree with, however, is "He is of our generation. We grew up in a society that used derogatory terms & hid people with disabilities away. Those words are still there down deep. I think for people who don't work, socialize or otherwise interact with people with disabilities, sometimes those words just pop up without thought." I compare that thinking to the fact that our grandparents may not have been familiar with the correct term for Brazil Nuts, or the appropriate term for African American, but it never made it ok to say the "N" word. Never! Age never excuses not thinking before you speak.

  5. Thank you for your response anonymous. I wish I knew who you are? I love comments on the blog that will raise discussion, and yours has.
    Martin Luther King said "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. That would sum up our Presidents words, reaction, and action in his Jay Leno statement.
    "You said: "people who don't work, socialize or otherwise interact with people with disabilities", those words really sum up my whole point for this blog entry. The fact that there are people who fit this definition says there is something wrong in our society. There are over 50 million people with disabilities in the United States, we should value people God has made and they should be in our church, at our work place, in our restaurant, in our home when we have friends over, but they are not. People with disabailities should be part of everyday in all of our lives,just by shear number, but sadly they are not. Why is that? We still hide people away who have disabilities and use derogatory terms about them just to get started. Adolph Hitler said: "How fortunate for leaders that men don't think" This was just before he began testing of gas chambers on people with disabilities. Everyone in Germany knew what he was doing, yet no one spoke up pretty soon almost 250,000 people with disabilities where exterminated. That is a history of change in a very short time. We are killing 90% of pre born babies who test positive for down syndrome, proponents of modern genetic testing feel they can wipe disability out...soon. We may only have overnight to change. Jesus said night is coming fast when no man can work. If we are just looking for good publicity and public awareness...God help us. We are in a war to save a vital part of Gods church from extinction, again, without them God's body cannot be full.

  6. Hey Anon, may I ask...of what "generation" do you belong to? You make reference to Obama being "of our generation. We grew up in a society that used derogatory terms & hid people with disabilities..." but then you also say ..."Much like our generation grew up with naturally accepting African-Americans as equals..."
    Dont know but...I'm pretty sure that the generation that used derogatory terms and hid the disabled is the NOT the same generation that "accepted" the black community.
    In any case, whew I'm so glad we're not there anymore. Look how far we've come! We don't have to "hide" the disabled anymore, we are so close to being able to wipe them out altogether! Let's hear it for progess!

  7. Becky: I didn't say it was OK to use the terms, just that they are there. I still hear older people use "the N word" (among others) even though they know it is not right to do so.

    Jill: I'm of Tony & Karol's generation - 40s. Although we only had a handful of African-Americans in our town, there were many in nearby towns. I never heard anyone our age use derogatory terms or treat them any differently than anyone else. But I often heard & saw unkind words & actions regarding disabilities. Maybe it was different in different locations. Because we accepted them, I assumed everyone our age did. Guess not.

    Sorry about the anonymous thing. I had difficulties trying to get the stupid thing to post since I don't have any of the profile selections. So "Anonymous" it will have to remain.


    Tony, I'm surprised you didn't guess it was me. I always have to play devil's advocate. ;)

  8. There is an Irish saying, "Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth." I have to agree with you Tony, this is most likely not a one time occurrence... it the rotten fruit of a rancid attitude that is obvious not only from this "slip", but from the decisions that have been made by our country's leader in the short time he has been in power.
    Not only has the president given us a glimpse of his ignorance and predjudice regarding people with disabilities, he has hurt numerous people and their familes whose lives have been changed and made better by the Special Olympics Organization. A mom of an athlete put it best when she talked about how "it infuriated her that an organization dedicated to empowering millions of people with disabilities would be reduced to a late-night punchline"
    Finally, it is easy for people to dismiss the comment and move on, when the comment doesn't hit them in the gut and turn like a wrench. When families are fighting day in and day out for the rights of their loved ones to be recognized and respected as any other human being is, it is hard to overlook a "slip" heard 'round the world.

  9. This is awesome, this is just what I hoped blogging would be. Thank you Janice for creating debate. I have to many friends and family who like to rile things up to know it was you. Also, just to be clear I am not yet 40's like you , just plain old 40. OK Back to the blogging!