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

Friday, January 31, 2014


Imagine a man with an intellectual disability. Lets say he is like 45 and doesn't live at home. Just with that description, many people might be able to describe what his life is like. You might imagine...

-he lives in a group home, probably with a roommate only members of the same sex living there. The home is probably in the community but there is little contact with members of the community.
-most of the people in his life are paid to be with him. They are service providers. The friends he has are either those who live with him who have the same sort of life or those at his day program. He may have family contact but it isn't very regular, and may be none at all. He has pretty much no friends who are regular community members. Involvement from community members is rarely seen, rarely facilitated and probably shunned.
-his "work" consists of  either game playing or busy work or "Mickey Mouse garbage (the way Dr. Marc Gold described much of the 'work' provided to folks in these kinds of programs) as the demands and expectations for growth are so minimal.
-probably the leisure recreation activities in his life are watching TV and maybe bowling (all disabled people like to bowl, right? you would think so rather than that being a reflection of the lack of creativity in teachers). He rarely gets to go outside.

The problem with the above is not that this is typical although that is a problem...the problem is that we are satisfied that this is the way it is! We know this is the reality and we don't care, or think it is fine, or just don't know what to do so we do nothing. Human services workers are satisfied, families are satisfied, churches are satisfied. I think all these groups are satisfied because the current system makes minimal demands of all of us. I think the state agencies like the separation from the community because it facilitates their tendency toward making decisions that are administratively convenient for them. Compartmentalization is easier for group management and regulation of people. Integration of people into the community only makes life messy, more difficult, more REAL.
Peoples lives are complicated.  When we make their lives simple, we restrict their lives making them regulated and unreal.

Don't be satisfied with the way things are.

To the Christian I would say, "Don't be conformed any longer to the patterns of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). Does the current experience of persons with disabilities as regulated by human services represent a Biblical understanding of disability? How  would a Biblical replacement narrative about disability and who people with disabilities are change the typical scenario above? What can you do to help to facilitate that change?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This blog really opened my eyes. Day to day we think about it and do nothing to try to change it. Like stated, we are satisfied that that is how people with disabilities live. Instead we need to reach out with them with love and spend time with them. Christians are very much into missions around the world. They want to minister to people that do not know Jesus. They hang out with them, and do fun and exciting things for and with them. Christians need to open up that door more to do stuff like that with people with disabilities. Go cook a dinner with them, watch their favorite show, take them to the mall, the movies, take them out for ice cream. Any of that can be part of ministry as well. We should not stick to what everyone is satisfied with for them. Go out, do something, live a little... with them! People never know, they may be transformed in a positive way with their experience.