Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When we disagree...

I received an email yesterday proclaiming VICTORY in subject line. I knew what the email referred to. I knew the sender and I did not define victory in the same terms.

There should be a disclaimer at the beginning of this blog post -- I should tell you that I love my family. I love my boys and my girls. I love our precious life and on almost every single day I can give thanks to God for the Cerebral Palsy that makes my boys -- as well as me and my girls -- exactly who God wants us to be. But you might have gathered if you read about Benjamin here that we are currently in a slap-us-in-the-face-with-our-differences season and I might be a bit grumpy. I mean, maybe. A bit grumpy.

So the email felt like a punch to my stomach. And the subsequent posts by groups I admire -- as well as my favorite homeschool convention speaker last year -- celebrating the same "victory" just served to make me feel even worse.

Yesterday, the United States Senate failed to ratify the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They needed 66 yes votes and only received 60. Thanks in part, if you are to believe the posts, to the onslaught of these organizations urging their members to call their senators to oppose the Convention.

Because the picture makes me trio at 4.

Yep. Groups that I actually belong to urged members to oppose a treaty that would give rights to my kids.

The opposition continually chanted that the treaty would allow the UN power within our sacred USA. As we watched the debate on C-Span, Senator John Kerry constantly reiterated the error of that thinking. With former President Bush and Senator John McCain's support, he discussed how the convention would open the borders for our disabled citizens, for our wounded vets, for my children. He discussed the fact that other countries are watching us -- willing to follow our lead in the ratification of this treaty, waiting for us to approve the standard.

But we didn't set the standard. We did not ratify the convention. We did what we do recently as a nation -- let an issue so polarize us that we refused to look at how this might benefit someone else.

I am not even pretending to be an expert here. I do not know how all of the ins and outs would have played out. But this is what I do know: for a few hours on C-Span, I was able to watch the congress of my country discussing how to help people like my boys. I listened to senators I once thought I had nothing in common with, speak compassionately and intelligently about the challenges the disabled face in our country WITH the Americans Disabilities Act and how far we have come since that law was made 20 years ago. 

I listened as they described life in other countries that do not have such laws. Countries that I have visited where children do not receive the services that we are fortunate to have in America. I thought of Italy and the young man I saw riding on a skateboard because his deformed feet needed surgery and he apparently did not have a wheelchair.  

But really, what I felt was hurt. Hurt because with every email, Facebook alert and blog post urging me to oppose the convention, I heard this: "WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS!" And yes, it was in all caps, being screamed, ranted, yelled at me.

And so please excuse me as I climb up on my soap box and scream back for a bit: Unless you have carried two wheelchairs, a walker and crutches anywhere in order that your children might find a way to navigate the place -- church, a park, school -- then DO not stand on your own box and scream opposition at an act that might make it easier for children and parents all over the globe.

Forgive my anger.

It is really more about my feelings being hurt. About people I thought should care, showing that probably they don't.

And I realized this: when we take an issue -- any issue -- and become so vehemently for or against it, we lose all sense of GRACE. We rant and rave and urge and sometimes in our effort to squelch an issue, we squelch people. Squelch their hearts. Squelch their feelings. Squelch their willingness to listen to anything we ever say again.


And so I will pack up my hurt feelings and my soapbox. I will find ways to advocate for my children -- and those I love around the globe that have special needs -- and I will pray to give grace first and foremost in all that I do. Because I never -- never, ever, never -- want to make anyone feel like I feel this week. I never want my cause to be the cause of someone else feeling unworthy, unloved, unwelcome.

My home is accessible. I want my heart to be, too.