Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

By Bill Peace

Great Quote

I just came across the following quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small they cannot be seen on any maps of the world".

This reminded me of how misguided the parents of children are who seek out growth attenuation. The most vulnerable people among us are in my estimation important. They are humanity reduced to its basest element. How we care and value these lives says much about our culture. To date, we Americans do a very poor job caring for the vulnerable--the elderly, terminally ill and disabled. All are stigmatized, their lives deemed less valuable than those who are "productive". But what exactly does that "productivity" mean? In looking back on one's life are the monetary goals one reaches more important than love, children raised, family, and the contribution made to the world.

When I was a child my father never asked me how I did in school. Instead he would say "Did I ask a good question and think independently". Answers he told me can always be found but asking hard questions is what separates original thinkers from drones. He did not want me to be a drone. In retrospect I suspect he wanted me to carve out a different life than the one he led. Without knowing it he led me to become an anthropologist as we as a group always ask hard questions and defend the rights of the most vulnerable--often indigenous populations or minority groups. Little did I know I would join the largest minority group in America--the disabled. But I was prepared like few others. I had a penchant for questioning and life long propensity to reject the status quo. What I wish and think the above quote by Eleanor roosevelt gets at is that we all must assert our rights and the rights of those that cannot assert them independently. We must look into the eyes of the most vulnerable and see ourselves. We must protect those that cannot protect themselves. This is where I think growth attenuation fails miserably. Growth attenuation is a simple answer to a complex problem. It enables parents and doctors the luxury of no thought--no consideration of the other, people that do not nor will ever fit in with social expectations. What are there needs? Why are those needs not met? How can we force society to change and become a welcoming place for all those with and without expected cognition and physical prowess. I offer no answers today just hard questions. Questions I think my father would be proud I am thinking about.

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