The Long and Winding Road

I just got back from visiting my daughter in a drug rehabilitation program in Florida. It is an extremely intense program. Most individuals attend for at least three years.  I get to see her twice a year at their festival.

The program is based on only on two things. Hard work and Prayer.  It is part of the Catholic Church.  The program originated by a nun in Italy and now has several locations in the United States and other countries.

From the outside looking in it appears to be brain washing. I believe it actually is. My daughter is 29 years old and had been involved with drugs for at least 15 years. Over half of her life. Her mind is so programmed to use drugs as her coping mechanism she really needs brain washing.

They use three years as a base for their program.  One year to heal the body, one year to heal the mind and one year to heal the spirit.

The residents start their day early at 6 am, and earlier if you are on cooking duty. Their day is packed full with work to maintain the house and on jobs creating goods to sell and support their expenses. The remainder of their time is filled with prayer. They attempt to teach the resident to replace drugs as their coping mechanism, with God and prayer.  Their must be something to replace the huge void in their new lives without drugs.

Austerity is another key to their lives. They attempt to cut off all outside distractions. Currently there are 24 girls in my daughters home. It is a modest, but quite nice house in St. Augustine Florida.  It is situated on about an acre that includes a large garden they use to produce food, a workshop for making purses, greeting cards and rosaries, a chapel and great outside living spaces. The girls meticulous maintain it and are very proud of their efforts. They do not watch T.V. and are only allowed a very few, modest clothes and their personal essentials. Only their basic needs are attended to.

There are also two boy’s facilities in Florida, and one in Alabama.

They call it “The Community”, Community Cenacolo.  The most telling thing about the community is all of the people who have completed the program and left, who return for the Spring and Fall retreats. They all know they owe there lives to the community and to the others that were them with them. They create strong personal bonds with their sisters. They are honest and do not allow B.S. from each other. They hold one another accountable and in line with the standards set by the Community. That is a big part of their success.  My daughter was surprised there were no therapist working with them as in other programs.  What they find is, everyone there is a therapist following the directions of the community.  One young lady commented, after being there for a while that it was the most intense therapy she had ever had. The therapy was constant, part of everything they do and it is honest and opened.

So why should this information be of any interest for anyone other than myself? If you, or someone in your life is struggling with addiction, don’t expect these 30-day, 60-day 90-day programs to always work. Addictions are incredibly strong and encompasses every aspect of their being.  Understand it will be a long and hard road back. Most go through hell to get there in the first place and will have to make a return trip back through hell to get home.

I would not assume to offer advice to the attics that are looking to beat their addiction.  If you haven’t been there you can’t understand.  I can give advice to the loved ones.

  Be Strong:  You have to say no to them.  Helping the with money and things only makes things worse.  You are               enabling them.

Be Resolute: Their conviction to get clean will waver.  The appeal of the drugs is overwhelming.  Be resolute in your        expectations and expect nothing less.

Be Supportive: It will be the hardest thing in their life. They will need people that understand this and are there            for them. Tell them you are proud of them.  They need positive feedback.

Be Honest: Don’t tell them you understand. You can’t unless you have traveled their path. Just listen and try to              understand what they are telling you.

Love Them: No matter what they had done, make sure they know that you do and you always will love them.  You         didn’t like the things they did but you will always love them.

So there it is, for what ever it is worth.  If you are going through this personally or with a loved one I feel for you.  You’re scared and your hopeful.  You see a light at the end of the tunnel but aren’t sure you have the gas to get there. The Community is the right place for my daughter.  It won’t be for others.  I can tell you the easiest one you find probably will not be any help.  It’s going to be hard and you need to find a facility that understands this.

 

Just Saying….

TODD

 

 

 

 

 

Writing

What is it that compels some to write? I’m not talking about filling out forms and signing papers like everyone does, I’m talking about all the Ernest Hemingway and Steven King want to bes.

I’ve been doing this blog for several years.  It began as a blog about Ebsco Spring and related topics.  A couple of years ago, I hijacked it and started to write my own topics, often about social issues and sometimes short stories with a point to them.

Recently I have started writing fiction and non-fiction.  I am working on the finishing stages of my first book.  I have two others in process and the outline written for two more books.  Obsessed?  I’ll let my wife answer that question, but I’m sure you can guess what she would say.

Everything eventually ends up on this laptop somewhere but they all start out hand written.  I love putting pen to paper and creating thoughts.  For me it started a couple of years ago.  For some reason I thought I would like to write with a fountain pen.  Now I write with nothing else. There is something almost magical when the ink smoothly flows from the cartridge to the thin metal nib. The ink flows onto the paper, still wet and glistening, forming words before your eyes.  The words join together to form sentences, the sentences are grouped in like categories as paragraphs and the paragraphs become chapters.

If you do it right the chapters become the book or short story.  When someone reads your writing the should feel your feeling you attempted to convey.  They should see, hear, touch, and taste the picture you had in your mind when you shared it with them on the paper. A very good written story will make you wonder what the characters are doing when you are not reading the book.  You writing has brought the characters and their actions to life for the reader.

I do not know yet if my writing is at that level.  I feel certain it isn’t YET.  I do like the stories.  The first book started on a day I was sitting at the desk, bored.  I picked up my pen and before I knew I had one page written.  It was a description of a young man.  He would become the hero in the book. After I completed the page I could see the young man and already had insights into his personality.  Okay….. Now What?  The following day I turned the page to the next blank sheet of paper.  Then it happened.  The story came flooding. I was writing as fast as I could and the story was playing out in my mind several chapters ahead. The outline to the book wrote itself.

The hard part is going back making each scene come alive through the words.  I call it word pictures. So what draws me to writing?  I can’t 100% answer that question.  I know it is therapeutic.  It can be an escape if reality gets too much to deal with and I need a little break. I could use several things as an escape. That still doesn’t explain why do I write.  The best answer is I don’t know.  But as long as the ideas keep flowing and I enjoy applying ink to the paper and I find people who find it entertaining to read….then I’ll keep writing. Is it like Forrest Gump running?  Will I stop one day and decide to “just go home” and stop writing.   Anything is possible.

So for now I’m claiming the title of unpublished author.  That’s a title that means nothing, but it fits.  I might self publish and make it only available on-line.  That way I would be a published author, a term that used to have real meaning. I’m going to keep watching the ink flow, building words that create scenes that people can escape to.  You can’t ask for anymore.

Just Saying…..

Todd

WHICH ONE AM I?

 

As I was sitting in my car the other day I wondered, which one was I?  The idiot, the moron, the asshole, or the ultimate, The real asshole (as opposed to what, an artificial asshole).

I’m really not sure if there is an official hierarchy to these labels. I’ve never seen anything documented, so I am going  to make an attempt at it here.

Idiot               Driving 3 mph or less than the speed limit

Driving on the shoulder

Moron            Hesitating over 4 seconds after the light changes green.

Making a U-Turn at the traffic light

Asshole           Pulling across a lane of traffic to make a turn at the last-minute.

Not pulling over for an emergency vehicle

Real Asshole   Changing lanes into another car.

We are not a very tolerant society these days, especially when we can hide inside our cars, much like hiding behind our keyboard on Facebook.  When we don’t need to face one another we are extremely intolerant.

After we have assigned the appropriate label to our nemesis, it’s now time to officially inform them of their significant accomplishment.  The official notification begins with a blast from your horn, sometimes multiple blasts if their performance was deserving. NOW, I want to be clear. This is not a blast on the horn to greet a passing car or worn someone of impending danger.  This honk is an official recognition of their actions.  After the official notification it is important we personally recognize their accomplishment. This is generally delivered by racing by the recipient and directing our stare at them. Sometimes it is appropriate to add a hand gesture to validate that their performance was number one. What an honor.

At some time every one of us have held driving performances worthy of this recognition.

I wonder if we randomly met the recipient, in person, if we would feel they were still worthy of such recognition? With the stress and speed of our lives everyone has brain farts.  They are distracted and tired and sometimes even defy the “you should be perfect directive” and make mistakes. I realize that in our world of perfection it is difficult to grasp others do not live by the same rules we do.

The next time someone fails to pull off at the light or makes a U-turn in front of you, before you bestow one of these prestigious labels, try to put yourself in their shoes.  If it was you, what response would you like to see from your fellow motorist? Tolerance would go a long way to making everyone’s life a little simpler. Imagine after the embarrassing mistake you were greeted with a smile and a wave.  I think you would live without the recognition.

The Moron.  I’m thinking that is probably me.

Just Saying….

Todd

 

Who Do You See?

You finally get past the car that had been holding up traffic, driving 30 mph in a 40 mph zone.  As you race past what do you see?  Do you see the old man, hunched forward, straining to see with arthritic fingers gripping the wheel with a death grip or do you see the former First Sergeant from the 1st Marine Division that landed on Red Beach at Inchon Korea on September 15, 1950, that spent 2 years fighting in Korea. The man who went onto build power plants for the next 35 years, in all kinds of weather so you would have lights and heat for your home.  Who do you see?

When the old man walks in wearing plaid shorts, dark socks and dress shoes with a yellow jacket, who do you see?  Do you see an old man who has lost all self-respect,that you laugh at or do you see the Marine Specialist that survived 4 months of siege by three divisions of the NVA at Khe Sahn in Vietnam watching his friends die in his arms.  Do you see the man that went onto college and became that special teacher loved by all of his students for the next thirty years?  Who do you see?

As you are waiting in line at Quick Trip and the old man in front of you won’t stop talking to the clerk about just about everything, who do you see?  Do you see a lonely old man with nothing better to do or do you see the young lieutenant in the 101st Airborne, freezing in a snow drift in the 1944, surrounded by the German Army. The man who went on to serve as a police officer protecting the city for forty years. Who do you see?

You sigh as the old lady in front of you continues to dig for correct change at Walgreens.  Do you see an old lady with difficulty seeing, arthritic hands and trouble focusing on what she is doing or do you see a strong woman whose husband was an Army Captain killed on the beach  in Normandy, leaving her three sons to raise on her own.  The lady that worked two jobs to ensure they all attended college and who all now serve our country.  Who do you see?

The old lady in front of you stairs lost at the ATM screen confused.  She has no idea what to do.  Do you see an old lady passed up by society and technology, unable to function in today’s world or do you see the mother that lost her son in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam in 1965 and then lost her other son during the TET offensive in Vietnam. The woman with unbearable grief that continued on and went to work at the VA rehabilitation hospital in honor of her sons.  Who do you see?

They say old age isn’t for sissys.  Like everything the body and the mind break down over time.  Things just do not function the way they had before.  Yet inside lives the same person.  The person that gave so much for the rest of us. The person that help build the life we enjoy now.  The person that defended our freedom.  The person that raised Presidents and Ministers.  The person that we owe everything we now have.

So when you run into these people…..

Who do you see?

Just Saying…..

TODD

The Unseen Minority

 

I recent did a presentation on hiring people with “Special Needs”

When preparing the presentation I had a revelation.  The corollaries between racial prejudice and how we interact with “Disabled”.

I apologize for any terms I use that are found offensive. I use them to enhance people’s understanding of my message only.

Think about the United States in 1950.  If a person of color were to look for a job, typically it would be assumed that their was a very limited range of things they could do.  Janitorial and service work were the most common.  They were not looked at as unique individuals with unique abilities.  People did not look past their skin color.  I am not talking about the extreme examples of prejudice.  I am talking about th majority of main team America.  (Regretfully this is still the case today at times)

We have made some progress on this, SOME. Recently President Obama served two terms as our President.  Regardless whether you liked what he did or not, you could not argue that he was an effective President.  He was the ONLY President to actually do something regarding health care reform.  Most likely, in 1950 he would be given no opportunity beyond janitorial duties.  President Obama graduated from Colombia university, a college most of us would never be accepted to, much less complete a law degree from.  He was obviously qualified to do the job he did.  (I’m not arguing whether you like his policies, only his capabilities).

Fast forward to today.  In most situations, if a person in a wheel chair shows up for a job interview, it will automatically be assumed what they are not able to do. The interviewer would never take the time to look at the individuals capabilities, what they can do.  No different then the person of color that interviewed in 1950.  Does the need for a wheel chair make a person “Handicap”?  Well, if they wanted to run a marathon, maybe.  President Roosevelt used a wheel chair.  Roosevelt served as President during WWII.  One of the toughest times in our history.  Was he “handicapped”?  Not for being the President of the US and obviously several other things.  Steven Hawking, the brilliant cosmologist and astrophysicist required a wheel chair. Was he “Handicapped”?  Maybe if he wanted to join the Navy Seals but in his field he was one of the best.  Neither of these men were defined by the wheel chair.  It was one aspect of who they were.  Obviously they both ha tremendous capabilities.  If they showed up in their chair for an interview would anyone take the time to find out what they were capable of and see past the chair?  I would venture to say no, in most cases.

People do not take the time to look past obvious “disabilities” to what the person can do, The same as people did based on skin color in the 1950s (and sometimes still do).  I even see similarities in our struggle to put labels on them.  In the 70s I remember the frustration of whites on what term to use, black, African-American, Persons of color.  I see the same dilemma now. Handicap, People with special Needs, Confined to a chair.  They all have limited connotations.  The point is we feel a need to label them.  I used the term “The Unseen Minority” in my presentation.  Words are important.

Until we can stop categorizing people and then making assumptions of their capabilities we will never see the end to prejudice. Regardless of skin color, physical capabilities or mental capabilities every person has a unique set of things they can do, their abilities.  If we don’t, the next President Obama or President Roosevelt may never have the opportunities they deserve and everyone loses out.

Just Saying……

TODD

 

The Tale of Two People

I just made reservations to go to Florida next month.  I’m not going to Disney Land or Universal yet I’m just as excited.  It’s not a business trip.  I am going to visit my daughter.  I haven’t seen her for six months.  Not for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  She is in a drug recovery program through the Catholic Church. It is a three-year program for most residents.  I can only visit her every six months.  No phone calls.  Only post cards for communication.  I write her weekly, even if I don’t have anything to say. I’ve learned to write small and sometimes send multiple cards in a week.

My daughter struggled with drugs for years.  She could beat the addiction for a short time, but anytime she faced any adversity she would go back to the drugs.  It was so hard to watch and I have to say I facilitated it for a big part of the time.  By the time she left for the program in Florida it was a matter of time before she either was dead or in jail.  Going to Florida literally saved her life!

She has been doing great!  She is sober for over a year, the longest period in her life since she started on drugs.  The program she is in focuses on only two things, hard work and prayer.  Both of which she is excelling at.  She has made the decision to be baptized and join the Catholic Church. She has found faith and uses it to support her.

When she was at home and an active addict, the drugs impacted everyone she was around.  She would steal to support her habit and lie about everything.  I was naïve.  I wanted her to beat it so badly that I believed all of her lies and enable her to support her habit.  I guess it is pretty common but I hate it that I actually made it easier for her.  I eventually had to compartmentalized it.  I couldn’t dwell on it.  When I firmly said no and wouldn’t support her I knew that would mean she was either on the street or staying with others that shared her demons.  I rationalized that allowing her to lie and stay here was better than kicking her out and getting that phone call, you know the one from the police saying she was in jail, or worse.  Until she hit the bottom there would be no motivation to get clean.  If I made life easy on her there was no reason to go through the hell of confronting her addiction.

My last encounter with her before going to Florida was so hard.  It was an intervention.  Her mother and sister were there.  She was sleeping on the couch at her sisters when I arrived.  She thought I was just dropping by for a  visit.  We gave her the alternative, go to the program in Florida tomorrow, or be on her own.  It got ugly fast.  The police were called and I had no idea what would happen next.  I want to give the Tulsa Police a lot of credit.  Her mom had found drugs in her bag.  It was enough to get her considerable jail time. Her mom turned it over to the police.  The police knew we had tickets and were taking her to the program the next day if she agreed. They knew Florida was the best alternative.  They claimed there was only residue in the bag and no drugs.  If they arrested her for the drugs she may have never made it to Florida and a new life.  They were great. It was impossible for me not to think of myself as a traitor, ambushing her like that.  She hated me. I knew I was saving her life but at that time it didn’t feel like it.  Beyond that, I knew I would only get to see here a couple of days every six months, no phone calls and only post cards to communicate.  I was terrified, but not to the level she was.  I am so proud of her for making the decision to go.  It definitely wasn’t the easy decision.

When I made my first six month visit I was amazed.  She was happy, had several friends that really understood what she was going through and had found faith.  She had matured and for the first time I thought she was going to live.

My daughter is an incredible person, with the drugs she was not.  They were different people.  The person dependent on the drugs has left.  I’m going to see my little girl!

Just Saying….

TODD

 

Here We Go Again

One more time. 1″ to 3″ snow tonight. So far this winter that translates to, drum roll please,  nothing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we got none or a foot.  I know I posted another blog about snow recently but I just can’t help it.  I LOVE SNOW. I heard the other day that the Hope Indians believe snow is the return of spirits past for a visit.  Cool story but I haven’t been able to verify it.  If it is true I guess they don’t visit often since the Hope are from Arizona, guess it could be in the mountains.   I just checked, they just changed the forecast again, now they backed off to 1″.  1″?  1″ doesn’t count.  Might be pretty, but my rules require 3″ to be officially called snow in the Rule Book of Todd.  I’m so disappointed, AGAIN!  I like to think of snow like a re-birth.  It covers the brown and lifeless winter landscape with a glistening blanket of white.  1″ doesn’t cover everything.  When you get 3″ the tree limbs all have a white stripe that accents the billowy blanket below.  I ALMOST think fresh snow shouldn’t be walked or driven on, left as virgin snow not to be defiled by man.  That would be nice if I didn’t want to play in it.  Just walking in the snow is a great experience, that is if you do not trip and fall.  I can’t recall seeing anyone unhappy when it snows, except for that guy with his car in the ditch. I don’t think it feels quit as cold when it snows, which makes no sense considering your standing on one giant ice-cube. Now I do stop short of the snow angel thing.  I always end up getting wet clothing and when I have wet clothing I have a whole different opinion of snow and the temp outside.  It always seems quieter when it snows. The silence makes it feel like a very personal experience, like it snowed just for you.  You might be nice enough to allow others to play in your snow but there is no mistake the snow is yours. In the Southern states it is a rare occasion to see snow.  In Oklahoma we usually get two or three snow a year except the last two years that forgot about us. For the last couple of years it seems to stay at 34 degrees and it comes down as a cold rain.  I hate cold rain. As the rain falls,, I continually check the temp, willing it down to 32 degrees. It never works but I hold out hope.  So….is it going to snow tonight.  They seem relative certain we are getting something.  I can guarantee, as I follow my nightly schedule of up every two hours, I will be running to the window looking for the snow.

The snow brings out the little boy in me.  Come on out to play little boy.

 

Just Saying…..

TODD

The Amazon Jungle

The sunlight barely pierces the thick canopy overhead.  With every step brings uncertainty.  You sense you are always being watched.  The predator watches patiently, looking for your weakness.  The perspiration grips your body.  The jungle floor is littered with corpses of others who did not head the warnings. You shutter at the thought of joining them.  What can be done to escape this mighty predator?  He has taken entire herds to extinction.  He hunts indiscriminately.  If he strikes he will draw blood and then continue to wipe out the herd.  Will you see tomorrow?  None of the animals in the jungle know who will be next.

I’m not talking about a wild animal in a South American jungle.  I’m talking about the internet giant the Amazon Company.  Like a fierce predator they choose industries to pounce upon and move to the world of extinction.

It started simple enough, 25 years ago, 30-year-old, Jeffrey Bezzos’ in a garage.  Working on Wall Street he saw the dawning of the internet and knew he had to be a part of it.  He would sell goods over the internet.  After researching possible lines he decided on books.  The rest is history, or should I say current events.  Amazon now employees 97,000 employees and has annual revenues of $61.09 BILLION!  How that for a success story.  From a garage to a $61 billion in 25 years.

As in the jungle, Darwin’s law of only the strong survive as the weak die off.  As Amazon grows stronger, with each new concept, the weak are meeting extinction.  When is the last time you saw a big chain book store?  Darwin.  Amazon recently paid $13.7 million to buy Whole Foods.  Are grocery stores moving to the history book extinct? In the past year we saw the demise of ToysRUs.  ToysRUs? GONE?  Another victim of the Amazon jungle.

My answer to any question regarding locating a product is “It’s on Amazon”.  What can you not find there?  They have ventured into every product category with wide varieties and in most cases very competitive pricing. They have music services for on-line audio streaming.  Remember Peaches records and tapes?  Survival of the fittest. At Peaches you paid $12 for an album to listen to one song.  At Amazon you can choose the one song for .99,  They are offering movies, remember the now extinct Block Busters?  They even saw the predator approach but made the majority of their money on late fees and couldn’t give it up.  So the predator struck.

Most recently the giant has been applying for pharmacy licenses across the nation.  Mail order pharmacy, the Amazon way.  They have backed off for now but as soon as the herd shows weakness they will be back to pounce. They are now partnering with service industries across the country.  Add to cart, one click, my carpets are clean on Friday.  They are testing restaurant delivery services in some cities.  Are the very restaurants far behind?

With Prime you click and it shows up in two days and in some areas one day.  Groceries are available, delivered in a couple of hours in some locations.  Click your heels together twice, One Click and your dream arrives at your doors, and you don’t even need to click your heels if you don’t want to.

So where does it stop.  When will the beast Amazon be full and not devouring new prey?  Well….never.  Amazon built their success on two things.  High standards (two-day delivery, easy returns, fair prices ) and GROWTH.  The key to Amazon is they get it right and then move on, quickly.  Massive growth has been the key to their unbelievable success. They are experts at thinking outside of the box. Can you say UAV delivery?  Nothing is considered impossible and everything is looked at.  Regardless of what your company sells, you better not ignore Amazon or you might be the latest proof of Darwin’s Theory.

 

Just Saying….

Todd

Natures Blanket

We had snow flurries all day yesterday. Nothing stuck, just flurries all day.  I love snow.

Snow is a beautiful gift from Mother Nature.  I can watch snow gently falling for hours. When it does snow, even flurries I have to be in it.  It’s almost like being in an exclusive club.

Your sense of touch is heightened in the snow.  Something so delicate caressing your skin.  You feel it on your arms on your face and yes even in your hair.  Unlike the rain you do not try to hide from it. You welcome each individual flake as it floats down to gently rest on your skin. As magically as they appear, they disappear in a minuscule drop of water. But it’s okay.  there will be several more to take its place.

It is like the entire world pauses from its’ chaos in deference to the snow.  The world around you becomes quiet as the crystal wonders take center stage. You can hear them as the gently touch down. Its almost a deafening quiet. as if you hear each flake settle into its proper place. As you take a step, your shoe crunches on the newly laid white carpet. It is a comforting sound as your foot sinks in and is surrounded by a white blanket.

Before the snow comes you can smell it in the air.  Not the smell of rain but a crisp winter smell.  The clouds seem to gently lower themselves from the sky. They seem to almost touch the ground. It becomes neither dark nor light but somewhere in between. You notice out of the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of something delicate riding the wind.  “Was that a snowflake?”   The anticipation rises as you squint to focus on any darkened background.  Then it comes into focus.  “YES, Yes it is snowing”.   You swell with excitement.  You must tell someone, anyone. “It’s Snowing, It’s Snowing”.  Your inner child takes hold and you think of nothing other than what’s to come.  You have a secret that you must share with everyone.

The snow turns into a sheer curtain of tiny flakes.  As the flakes fall to earth you spot a single larger flake dancing on the breeze as it floats down. It rides down oblivious to its tiny siblings riding in an almost majestic aire, too good for the smaller flakes. Then there is  a second large flake, than a third and a fourth. They are taking over and growing by the second.  This is real snow.  You look down and everything is covered by a cottony white blanket.  All of the recognizable features disappear.  There is no road, no sidewalk, no grass or dirt. Just the soft white blanket of snow.

Then the snow pulls back into the clouds. The larger flakes depart first leaving their smaller companions to finish the work. As the clouds begin to lift everything seems to light up. the snow glistens as light is reflected back. Everything appears pristine and new. You stand in the silence and take it all in. You feel like you are all alone in this wonderland created by Mother Nature just for you.

You feel a sense of solitude standing there.  Not lonely by alone with yourself.  You reflect and relax, feeling the stress of the world sliding off your shoulders. It is as if this beautiful white blanket has covered up all your problems and stress, allowing you to just be with you. Is this Nirvana?

Often the snow departs just as quickly as it arrived. Everyday life and all of its burdens is pushing the blanket back forcing its way back into control.  The snow relents and you can see it as it turns brown and dirty before making its last appearance.  Life is returning and nothing will stop it.

It’s sad.  A very special gift, given to you is being jerked away,  You are only left with memories but those seem to fade as quickly as did the snow.  It’s time to get back to life.  At least until you spy that next tiny flake.

Just saying.

Todd

The Dream Moves Forward

I have a dream today… I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill nd mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is an excerpt from Dr. King’s famous speech delivered in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.  Dr. King shared a vision of a future when all men, regardless of color, would truly be equal.

Today, I call on Dr. King’s words to share a vision of all men and women, without regard to disability, be recognized only for their abilities.

Today, man still make assumptions on others capabilities based on nothing more than their skin color.  Some refuse to take time to accept all men and women as equals and allow them the opportunity to prove their individual capabilities.  They are seen, not as individuals but as a group that is different, to be relegated to a different standard.

Is this unlike how we value the individuality of those with special needs.  Do we not conclude they are of limited capabilities and in need of only our compassion and charity.  Do we ever take time to ask them what their capabilities are as we would ask others? Is our attitudes toward those of special needs any different from those of other minorities?

So today I call on everyone to share in Dr. King’s dream. To move toward realization of a world that values every man and woman as individuals, each with something unique to share with society.  A dream that understands that all men, regardless of color or special need cry out to make their contributions.  They yearn for the opportunity to participate in life and be productivity.  A dream that each and everyone have the opportunity to prove themselves and share in the personal satisfaction of making a contribution.  A dream that all have the opportunity to share in the feelings of dignity that comes with acceptance as a unique individuals.

Lest we forget, Franklin Delenoro Roosevelt. He served our country as the most powerful man in the free world during our countries darkest hour. President Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down.  This was not a disability to him.  He did not seek to run marathons or climb mountains. He was required to be a strong man who had the ability to lead this country and the free world through World War II.  He was paralyzed but did not allow that to be the definition of him.  He was the President of the United States of America.  As history looks back on President Roosevelt, it doesn’t record a disabled man who became President,  It records a great President.  We look back and focus on his abilities and not his disabilities.

I personally am unable to be a professional athlete.  I do not have the physical abilities or talent.  Does this mean I am disabled or handicapped?  I am completely able to accomplish many things in life.  I do not focus on that which I am unable to do.  A person that is born without sight is not disabled.  They have the ability to achieve many things in their life.  They are not defined by their loss of sight.  It is simply one of many things that make them the unique person they are.

We are all members of the human race. We all have distinctive capabilities and unique challenges.  There are no two of us alike.  We each, in our own way, have something to offer. The challenge is for us to see one another in this light, as individuals.

I have a dream.