There's no avoiding that some of my postings have had a negative slant to them, and a darker casting. I won't apologize for it; when things are bad, the responsible, mature, beneficial members of the community keep their eyes, minds, and hearts open. It doesn't matter if voices in the dark speak loudly or softly, but they should be present, meaningful, and contributing. The contributions don't necessitate relentless or naive positivity, but optimism that's been measured, qualified, tested, and proven carries as much value as the thudding war drums resonating in the deep. I believe the world ain't all bad, and that's what I'd like to show you with this update.
Current Reasons for Worthy Optimism:
The 11th Annual Disability Pride Parade commenced this past summer on July 19th, 2014. The parade matters, and is an unequivocal work for good, because when the words "Disability" and "Pride" are paired together, the sentiment shouldn't be surprising; and by the grace of this communal expression, it isn't. Philosophically, that has not been (and for a large portion of human society and culture, still is not) usual. Individuals, and especially, kids with disabilities need something loud, strong, present, positive, defining, reinforcing, promotional, meaningful, and transcendental, which welcomes and celebrates them, helping them believe and express how proud of themselves and their community they are. The disability pride parade is the requisite example they, we, and all can point to and identify with. "To change the way people think about and define 'disability.'" This is a noble, useful, worthy goal, and it is being accomplished every year the parade keeps marching.
Beginning in October, 1945 as a week-long employment initiative specifically for physically disabled individuals, NDEAM has come a long way into the 21st century, thanks to the able administration of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). First, it became more inclusive, advocating for all people with disabilities (starting nearly two decades after its inception, in 1962), and then it expanded its reach and impact, becoming a month-long campaign by congressional decree, in 1988. Inclusion and expansion are the heart and soul of NDEAM (the 2014 motto is "Expect. Employ. Empower"). I recently crunched the gruesome numbers covering the most recent analysis of prevalent unemployment in the disability community, and the cold truth is this; we could do with a whole lot more including and expanding. We, the people with disabilities need to provide for ourselves, and we need to be able to prove our capability to others. NDEAM is a gateway to the possibility of confirming our productive dependability as members of the general human community. The passion, skill, and tenacity realized through an employed disabled workforce is evident to you and me because we embody it. What NDEAM does is make sure that channel of expression and authority is an open line of communication and evidence, helping the able-bodied employment providers to anticipate, prepare, and collaboratively create a world in which all of us work. The 2014 observance of NDEAM lasts from October 1--October 31.
Did reading this make you smile? I hope so; writing it sure helped me to at least breathe a little easier. Goodness is out there, at work, and more often than not, eager to help individuals with disabilities to get working. The shadows in our world stretch far, dive deep, and are home to a monster or two, but they don't extend everywhere, forever. It's never a bad thing to be reminded of this truth. Please go here for further smiles and supporting evidence.