“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell


Friday, March 13, 2009

The dream of an advocate

When my son Josh and I go to the movies together, we are always looking for the classic line. It is typically not the lines that Hollywood recognizes, but powerful ideas that jump out at us.

Like from Matrix Reloaded
Lock: "*****, Morpheus! Not everyone believes what you believe!"
Morpheus: "My beliefs do not require them to."

Or from Pulp Fiction
"If my answers scare you Vincent, then perhaps you should cease asking scary questions"

Last week we saw the movie Watchmen. It was just ok, not great. One character who was particularly good, I thought, was a violent superhero named Rorshach. He is responsible for putting many bad guys in jail. At one point in the story, he is placed in jail himself. While he is in the cafeteria, one very large inmate confronts him, threatening him with the fact that he is now in there with the bad guys. He attacks but Rorshach beats him to a pulp. As the other inmates look on, Rorshach threateningly says to the room filled with convicts,
"I'm not stuck in here with you. You're stuck in here with me!"
We agreed that was the line we loved. And that is the way I feel as an advocate who is doing what I can, however small, to change the world around me.
"I'm not stuck in this world with those who would demean and exclude
persons with disabilities. It is my desire to grow as an advocate such that they feel that they are stuck in this world with me and people like me who will not stand for the injustices that are leveled against persons with disabilities."
I don't exaggerate my importance, I am largely unimportant. However, should God choose to use myself and others, I hope to make people, particularly those in the church, uncomfortable with anything short of a truly Biblical perspective on disability. Together, we can give purveyors of injustice, wherever they be, the feeling that the future of their injustice is threatened by our efforts, our ideas, by our very presence. The day I quit my efforts, is the day I am the one who is stuck in a world with them and the things they do and represent.
As long as I continue to fight, they are stuck in a world with ME!

May God make it so.

McNair

11 comments:

SouthernCalMom said...

I feel like an advocate for children. Young children, as with disabled individuals, are a vulnerable popluation. Both groups are less able to defend themselves. The predators who prey on young children or the disabled of any age are truly cowards. These evil cowards should be afraid of us, not the other way around. Dr. McNair's position is that of an advocacy role. If you mess with them, you mess with me! I feel that way as well. That is why my husband and I were foster parents and adopted our infant foster daughter. Our beautiful daughter, now 12, is one child that can be protected and loved in a world where too many of our vulnerable population are neglected, taken advantage of, or worse! What prompted me to become a foster parent is when I read a newspaper article about foster children being abused in a foster home. Imagine what that must be like. Your own parents were abusive and/or neglectful. Terrified and lonely, you are sent to live with strangers who also abuse you. It is disgusting and it makes me sad and angry. I was a new mom with an 18 month old son. When I read that article, it broke my heart that anyone could hurt a child. My husband saw me crying and told me that my tears were not helping anyone. If I felt that strongly about something, I needed to DO SOMETHING! We became foster parents shortly after. While I can't save every child, I knew that any child placed in my home would be safe and cared for. It is my wish that more of my community would become foster parents and eventually even adoptive parents. I feel I am an advocate for foster-adoption because these children need us! Ask yourself what it is that you can personally do to make your community a better place? Whether your calling is to be an advocate for the disabled, foster children, the elderly, or whatever cause is close to your heart-do something to make a difference and to help those in need! The Bible tells us that when we neglect and ignore "the least among us" that we are turning our backs on Jesus. While Dr. McNair is an advocate for the disabled (and thank God for him and everyone like him), I am an advocate for foster children. They are not "someone else's problem!" Please do not think that foster children are unlovable and unworthy of your home. They deserve to be treated with the same love and kindness that you would show your own children. It is my dream to live in a world where every child will be loved, accepted, and have a place to call home.

Anonymous said...

I believe that churches are not doing enough for foster children. This parallels what Dr. McNair feels-that churches do not welcome the disabled as they should. I think that churches should do whatever they can to encourage their members to become foster parents, or at least to become a special friend to a child in a group home. We need to open our eyes to the fact that there are too many children in need all around us. Caring, supportive, and loving foster homes are in short supply HERE in our community. You need not go to Africa or Asia to find children in need. I am reminded all the time by foster care agencies in Los Angeles County and Riverside County that there are too many foster children and not nearly enough foster and/or adoptive homes. Why isn't there a public outcry over this? Why aren't more caring Christian families opening their homes to these children? Please consider becoming a foster parent in your future. Encourage your church to remind its congregation about the need for caring foster parents. Open your eyes, and then open your home!

Meryl said...

One aspect of my position with a service provider is that I assist people with intellectual disabilities in becoming contributing members of their faith communities, not just service attendees. Some of the people I support serve in their churches as ushers, Eucharistic ministers, children's church workers, greeters, hospitality team members, maintenance team members, gardeners, acolytes, and as office staff.

Recently one of the women I support lost her mother. I was moved to tears at the funeral. I saw her family, her housemates and their families, her caregivers, and a pew of her FRIENDS from church who took time from their lives to come and support their friend in her time of need.

There is hope.

Meryl said...

In my position where I work I assist people with intellectual disabilities in becoming contributing members of their faith communities, not just service attendees. Some of the people I support serve in their churches as ushers, Eucharistic ministers, children's church workers, greeters, hospitality, maintenance, gardeners, acolytes, and as office staff.

Recently one of the women I support lost her mother. I was moved to tears at the funeral. I saw her family, her housemates and their families, her caregivers, and a pew of her FRIENDS from church who took time from their lives to come and support their friend in her time of need.

There is hope.

Daniel McCloud said...

I must say that people of today do not realize the change that can be made if one is just willing to take a step of faith into doing something courageous. Now what I mean by courageous is not taking a step towards the direction of danger to make a wrong a right, well maybe I am. It is a courageous act when one stands up for anyone who is under an oppressor, when one is willing to take a blow, figuratively or literally in today’s world, for making a wrong a write. So I am in total agreement with you Doc and I plan to not tolerate any sort of injustice whatsoever. I believe there is a movie quote that fits those who follow with this idea of oppression and it was stated by one of the wisest beings to ever be portrayed on the big screen.
“Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” –Yoda
With that being said I think that we all know what the Dark Side leads to, and in all seriousness, people that are causing this injustice over those with disabilities are contributing to the great evils of this world.

Anonymous said...

I particularly like your point of taking personal responsibility for advocating for change. In my life experience I have seen that there is a fine balance between taking a personal responsibility for something while still keeping the proper perspective of your role within it. On side of the pendulum we can look at an issue and realize that it is in need and take the distant approach. We may simply think, “I will pray about that” or “that is terrible and something needs to be done.” These are good thoughts but stopping at this point I believe is a huge failure on our part. A perfect example of this is the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. Perhaps we are as guilty as the priest and Levite who passed by the man in need when we are presented with an opportunity to serve a disabled person and pass it by. The other side of the pendulum is to get so caught up in acts of service that you exalt yourself and try to purchase your self-righteousness or seek glory for yourself. This also needs to be guarded against, as we are all human. However, when we realize that we are instruments of God’s peace and this requires us to take action on His behalf, we can make significant headway through His power.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the position that people who are not just are put in this world you. You are put in this world with them. I also believe that people have a personal obligation to help others and change the minds of others. If no one tried, the world would never change its mind regarding issues.

Anonymous said...

I love the passion and conviction you have for disabled people and their involvement in the church. You have truly been an inspiration and have really made me think throughout the duration of your class. God is using you in amazing ways and I pray that your message reaches Christians all over so we may make disabled ministries more of a priority!

Impossibleape said...

I am loving your (new?) feisty, no-holds-barred attitude.


It is a sad world, full of nastiness. Perhaps it time for good people everywhere to stand up and say


"We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."


bless your warrior spirit

Anonymous said...

First off, I think it's cool how you were able to take a quote from a movie you didn't care for so much and that was in reference to a jail scene to relate it your zealous advocacy for disabled people. As I was reading your concluding paragraph, I was reminded of thousands who have carried the same mentality towards a specific injustice. One prime example is MLK Jr. He did not back down for the rights and freedoms of African Americans, even though it cost him is life. To me, an advocate is willing to step outside the box and do whatever they can to help alleviate injustice. Being that we live in a sinful world, there will never be absolute peace; however, that should not distract us from taking the steps needed to make the world a better place in the mean time. I commend you Dr. McNair for your straight-forward, passionate advocacy for a people group that has been neglected for a long time. I think the Church has stayed weak in this area because they simply don't know how to address it. It is simple awareness and advocacy that can produce long term outcomes for the better.

Jeff McNair said...

The actual quote from the graphic novel states,

"As they dragged him away, Rorshach spoke to the other inmates.
He said, 'None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."