Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Revolution

When my youngest daughter, Suzi, first learned about new year’s resolutions she called them revolutions, as in, “Mommy, what’s your new year’s revolution this year?” Our family thought it was so cute, we’ve continued to make or not make revolutions to this day.

The truth is, I’ve rarely made them. My impulse control issues are formidable. Despite that, last year--for the first time in decades, I made one. And for the first time in recorded history, I think I found the recipe that works for me. I stopped making personal revolutions and made a political one.

A man and woman are sitting at the breakfast table. He is handing her a sheet of paper. He says, Lose weight, manage money better, keep my temper... bleeech. I was doomed to failure. However, last year my revolution was to become more involved in disability issues again. Although I get paid to work with and for people with disabilities, my volunteer work had dwindled. In the past it was my volunteer life that made me feel most like an advocate; like I was making a contribution to the disability rights movement. I work for a very progressive organization; but, it wasn't enough.

Without trying to sound too full of pride, I did it. I got involved in local issues and worked with other people with disabilities to right some wrongs. Along the way I felt more alive, more powerful and happier than I’ve felt in years. Believe me when I say, I am no Mother Theresa; I am full of selfishness. But, getting outside my own head and body made my own head and body feel better. Along with that grew a sense of belonging. I got more than I gave, that is for sure.

A friend of mine, Val, recently wrote, “5 New Year’s Resolutions to Promote Disability Rights”. I think they are terrific revolutions. Choosing any one of them can improve you (me) and forward our movement. Her full article will be coming out in the January 2009 Catalyst. Don't miss it.

1. Know Our History:
She suggests that if you do not know the following names, you need to do your homework: Dr. Frank Bowe, Evan Kemp, Judy Heumann, Dr. Carol Gill, Reverend Harold Wilkie, Dr. Fred Fay, Hugh Gregory Gallagher, Michael Winter, Mike Ervin, Mark Johnson, Gini Laurie, August Christmann, Margaret Pfrommer, Mike Ervin, Dr. Jake Bolotin, David Jayne, Lucy Gwin, Harriet McBride Johnson, Diane Coleman, and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan.

2. Get off Your Rumps and Make a Difference:
Here she reminds us that “the public is still in the Dicken’s Tiny Tim mode”. Each of has, not only the opportunity, but the obligation to make a difference.

3. Expect the Respect:
To work on this goal, Val reminds us that we have as much rights as anyone to use public services, attend concerts and expect that we should be included and accepted. She concludes, “The time is long overdue for us to fight these injustices and demand the respect we deserve.”

4. Mentor Our Youth & Promote the SILC Youth Summit [an Illinois specific annual event; search out a similar event in your area]:
Val reminds us that we owe it to our movement to lead and to teach younger people with disabilities about our movement. Give them the space to test their skills, and even fail so they can learn to become our future leaders.

5. Support the Disability Rights Movement:
Each of us has a contribution to make. Each voice makes it easier for the world to hear and heed our calls for justice.

I will probably fight my weight, money management, and anger for the rest of my life. I will continue to work on them, but they won't be the focus of my revolutions.

When it comes to new year’s revolutions... I’m making them political!

Happy New Year.


cripchick said...

these are fantastic. revolutions indeed.

happy new year, cilla!

Karen Putz said...

Those are great revolutions and it makes me realize that I have some homework to get to know those leaders that Val listed.

Happy New Year!

Stephen Drake said...

Val must think it's *really* important for disability activists to know about Mike Ervin - she put him in twice! (grin)

Happy New Year!

--Stephen Drake