Thursday, April 24, 2008


I am not sure if my parents were happier the day I was born or the day a psychiatrist in Atlanta told them I had a brain disease called bipolar disorder and that all my problems were not their fault. You see before that day they had been blamed for my actions and how I turned out.
It seemed to weigh harder on my father than even on my mother. My mom told me more than once how hard my birth was on her and I was never really sure she forgave me. Dad seemed more concerned about how my behavior looked to the community. He was a minister, missionary, school principal and church leader. Having a son who did not conform to the norms of the day was not a comfortable feeling for him to say the least.
In our society today we place so much emphasis on the individual it may be hard for some of you to understand what I am talking about. Hebrew tradition and the fifth commandment says “Honor thy father and mother”, but we have mostly pitched that out with the other ideas we consider archaic in favor of making sure we do not infringe on individualism.
In Christian teachings we find in the 6th Chapter of Ephesians the same words as in the Hebrew fifth commandment. When Dad would remind me of this, I would quote from the 4th verse of the same Chapter where it says “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger” and he never seemed to find any humor in my response.
Along with the fact that Mother’s Day is almost here and Father’s Day is not far off there is another reason I am talking about family. Those of us with disabilities are going to need our families. We are going to need our extended families which include our FAITH FAMILIES.
We are in what I call silly season. Other people refer to it as election time. Right during election (silly) season President Bush has decided to cut Medicaid funding. These cuts could cost North Carolina almost 12,000 jobs and over a ½ billion dollars in Medicaid funding.
I have been writing, speaking and teaching about natural supports for years. Natural supports are things like family and faith communities that folks like me can rely on for help and support.
I don’t care how you vote or what party you belong to. This is not a political blog. I am saying we had better stop making the individual the focus and make our communities the focus. The early church practiced something I would call communal democracy. They took care of each other. It might be wise to look back to the early church and to Hebrew law and traditions and take a second look at the idea that maybe community is more important than the individual. Maybe the whole is greater than any single part. Maybe the least is the greatest. All I know for sure is we are going to need our families. Yes, our FAITH FAMLIES TOO!
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