Thursday, June 12, 2008

Must History Repeat Itself?

Out From Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember is the title of an exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto through July 13, 2008. It promises to be a powerful display chronicling the history of disability through personal narratives drawn from 13 diverse objects including a braille watch, a ventilator, and a death certificate. Podcasts are available online in lieu of traveling to Toronto. Out From Under was produced in collaboration with students, scholars and alumni from Ryerson University.

Audrey King who donated the ventilator bed on display recalls, "Only years later, did I realize ... the embarrassment was not the assistive device, which in reality liberates ... It was – and still is – the bureaucracies and support system inadequacies that confine people and rob them of freedom and choice." Isn't that what Ari Ne'eman was saying on Good Morning America yesterday?

It is the same sentiment that inspired my friend, Diana Pastora Carson, to found Ability Awareness. Hear the hopefully familiar ring in her words about her brother, Joaquin. "The experience of being disabled by his environment more than his autism continues to inspire me" to give workshops that educate and change public perception. She spoke to kids and leaders last summer at SportsJam at our church as we learned from guest speakers with various special needs. We raised the kids' awareness and the kids raised money to purchase beach wheelchairs like the one pictured above for our local lifeguard stations. Diana is another example of how siblings rock the world! She is one of the speakers preparing for University of San Diego's Summer Autism Institute "Autism: Work With Me, Not On Me" coming up June 23 - 25, 2008.

Understanding history will spare us repeating it. The acceptance movement is not one voice in the wilderness. It is not even that new. But its time has come.

But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings. Hebrews 10:31-33

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:2-4

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! Revelations 2:8-9

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