Early in my work life, Marvin Kivitz, the CEO at Elwyn, retired. Always a gentleman, I was not surprised by what he did as he planned for his last day. He bought us all a book to read for guidance. I still remember one quote from the book, “Everyone is a role model. But sometimes they are a role model you should not copy.” I think the author was reminding us that we are all leaders. While we might not carry the title, the way we behave is something to be copied or not, something to be admired or not.
In life there will be challenges for which there are no directions to follow. In fact, no one has everything figured out, so we will be left with a choice to make. We will need to do more than follow. We will need to create a new path, a new approach.
By March of 2023, center-based services for adults with intellectual disabilities will no longer be funded by our primary payer. These centers, which segregate people of disabilities apart from others, must end. As with all segregation, people who are kept apart do not have opportunity to make their own choices and outcomes. They are not seen as equal. Some will say they need to be protected or others need to be protected from them.
Those who say “segregate” and have good intentions in making that statement cannot control the effects that segregation has in the minds and actions of others. When we keep people separated, others have no chance to see these people as human beings. The needs of those who are kept apart are not seen and understood. The giftedness of those kept apart is invisible. As humans, we have a tendency to value those with whom we have a relationship. Segregation makes relationships difficult or impossible.
We can all see how hard it has been to maintain our connections with friends and family during the pandemic. Now imagine if we had no foundation to begin with.
This boat needs to get us all to the next destination, we need to believe that hope does float. The control we need is to agree on a new destination and pull in the same direction. We need all the talents we have been given to pursue a journey for which there are no charts and no maps. We need to draw on our history of pioneering to set a new course. Are you ready to row with me?