Years ago, one of my staff came into the office out of breath. He looked like he had just run a race of some kind, and that was partially true. He was running down the highway after a young man decided to run away. The young man was a decent runner, but had some real challenges crossing streets and avoiding being hit by a car. The staff person didn’t complain about the chase, he was just happy to be unhurt because he was an African American man chasing a Caucasian teenager in a predominantly white suburb. I hadn’t thought of the risk he took to do a great job. That was twenty years ago.
Our Sister Grace award this year went to Dan Thrash. As part of our work in the community, Dan does training to promote understanding of people with disabilities. While we can be proud of our work, there is still more to do.
In the past few weeks, there have been several incidents highlighted in the news where violence was used around people with disabilities. Acts of violence are often justified by difference and the interest in eliminating someone or some group of human beings because of who they are. Violence is never the answer. Our differences should be something we understand and appreciate. As we move through our work and in our personal lives, let’s be the voice of inclusion, the voice of acceptance and celebration of difference. Let’s practice that belief at home and at work. We must be the role model of what we expect in our communities. Let’s share what we have done to make our communities safe and appreciative of differences.
On Tuesday, the third part of Carl’s story was posted. I n reply, I received this story from one of our staff, Marcia Berner.
(Your blog…) reminded me of my late and sociable father, who never met a person with whom he couldn’t joke or converse. When I was in my teens, I once took the bus with him to Harrisburg where he worked. When he got on, a group of people with developmental disabilities loudly announced “Ben’s here! Here’s Ben! Hi Ben, how’re you doing?” and the jokes and conversation continued. I was proud that it made no difference to my dad whether someone had a disability. He later told me that one of his colleagues asked him “Why do you talk with those people?” My dad’s answer was, “Why not?”