In my previous blog post, I identified with Charlie Brown who just keeps trusting and trying to kick that football as Lucy keeps pulling it away from him. Now I am identifying with Rodney Dangerfield, the stand-up comic, who is best known for his line, “I don’t get no respect.” He would fit right in with the people on Social Security Disability and Social Security who live near or below the poverty line. When it came to the stimulus, we were at the back of the line behind people who, it is reported, have been dead for at least two years. These must be the same people who are voting while people who are vision impaired are going to court because they cannot cast absentee ballots.
Why don’t we get no respect? Because we have been groomed by our families, health care professionals, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, educators, or peers not to make waves. We are carefully taught that it is OUR job to adjust and not to expect the world to adjust to us. The people and organizations that are looking out for us mean well. They wabt us to be happy. They don’t want to watch us weighed down by the struggles of everyday living as we also struggle to live with disabilities that are temporary, permanent, or chronic. In other words, people either want to see us healed or happy.
There are two books, The Mayo clinic Guide to Stress Free Living and The Mayo clinic Handbook for Happiness, that aim to make our struggles manageable. Books like these offer temporary solutions in a toxic environment that needs radical changes. I would rather spend my time reading the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed in 1990, the same year that I entered library school. Without a lot more wave making, the ADA will not be enforced. As I look back over the almost 73 years that I have lived with congenital glaucoma and the 30 years I’ve lived with cataracts, I have only one regret. If I had it all to do over again, I would have consulted a lawyer as frequently as I consulted a medical specialist, government agency, or organization for the blind.
I am studying how to make waves by watching On the Basis of Sex, a movie about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; reading Women and US Politics: The Spectrum of Political Leadership; and considering the implications of “the nature of bias and the capacity of law to reduce inequality and promote social change” as they are being explored by Jamillah Bowman Williams, J.D., PH.D., Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University who can be heard on You Tube.
At a time in history when the rest of the world is experiencing the social distancing that the blind and visually impaired have had to endure for centuries and when medical and legal experts are debating what patients should receive treatment when resources are scarce, those of us who are loving what is left need to be prepared as never before to fight for what is left. We must respect ourselves and work together if we are going to be included in the business, legal, and nmoral decisions that our nation and our world are making.