Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

What you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know about how you feel about Jesus and how you feel about me.

There has been a recent change to the immigration policy in the United States. It states that whether a person is admissible to the United States or not will be based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The expressed goal is “to ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States — either temporarily or permanently — are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.” 

Great, right?! Except how can you know? Beyond the obvious discrimination of people with disabilities like me, many of whom are fleeing violence, etc., it could be YOU at any time. Becoming disabled can and does happen at ANYONE. Further, if you live long enough you will almost certainly become disabled. Bodies don’t last forever without breaking down.

So, what does this mean? Unless you are super rich and elite, keep out? That’s sure what it seems like. What about Medicare? If you enter the country at a younger age and never need any public assistance, something you cannot know unless you are super rich, will you be eligible later in life? Does this exclude someone from coming to this country too? It’s a moving target.

Quite simply, we are moving toward eugenics. This should scare you into action! 

I know it won’t. I’ve been around nondisabled people long enough to know how little they think beyond their immediate concerns. You just don’t see yourself as me.

This is why we have a long history of locking away our disabled and elderly people. If you don’t see them, you don’t have to believe you will be them. You are wrong!

Speaking of long history, our current US administration recently stated that the words on the Statue of Liberty were for immigrants coming from Europe too.

I know, racism, shocking… Except, you should be shocked! You should be shocked into action against this administration and its policies. You have a voice. Use it!

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Photo by Jamie McInall on Pexels.com

Read more on both these things here or just look at the news or use a search engine. If you are uniformed or unshocked, you may be the problem.

Furthermore, any notion that you can support this administration while calling yourself Christian or pro-life is a farce.

(Admittedly, I’m afraid to make this connection not because it is untrue, but because some have used this as justification to say the Church should be charged with charity, healthcare, and supports instead of the government.)

Frankly, you are not just wrong, the Church is pretty bad at these things. Feel free to ask me about accessibility.

That’s just it. These people claim to be Christians yet the sit in direct opposition to Jesus.

In case you haven’t looked in a while, he takes the powerful in this world and turns them, and their systems, upside down. I mean, Jesus literally tells the rich guy to sell all his stuff and give it to the poor. (Matthew 19:21-22)

Look at the Beattitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)

For Christ’s Sake (Literally) The first Christians lived as a commune. (Acts 2:44-47)

Maybe that’s why the Church is dying.

As for the rest of it, what you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

It also seeks justice and inclusion for the people on the margins; even those least like you. Jesus talks about that too.

I’ll let you look it up if you don’t believe me because, “Carry your own weight,” right?

Peace Love and Acceptance

Notes: 1. Uscis.gov, 2. USA Today – 8/13/2019, 3. Biblegateway.com

 

 

 

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

The believer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told this story.

A brown skinned man was sitting in front of his house when ICE appeared.

He was grabbed, separated from his family, put in overcrowded cages with unlivable conditions, and left. His wife and daughter were separated, likewise.

His young daughter was forced to sleep on concrete. Wondering, what no child should ever wonder, “Where are my parents?”

She cried out to God, “Please help me!”

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A prosperity gospel believer heard about this. But, he had to envision a better life for himself. He’d like to help. Maybe someday he would. He just couldn’t today.

A pro-life believer heard this news too. But, he had to be consistent with his beliefs.

“I have to defend the defenseless,” he thought. Once moral order is restored, surely, everyone will be ok. All they need to do is wake up and understand like he does.

So, he did what he always did because he knew best.

An orderly believer heard this news too. Surely, he would do something. He found these conditions most unacceptable. He even wanted to help.

“Still,” he thought, “There are good and bad people on both sides.”

He was taught to follow the rules; to work with people. He loved everyone.

So, he waited for the right time. Maybe others will see a better way in his example and change. It isn’t complacency, it is quiet witness.

Finally, there was one last person who heard these things too. A skeptic at best, an atheist at worst.

He wasn’t as together as the first three folks. He was sort of unkempt. He was brash and often joked with his friends, “If I came into church, the walls would fall down.”

Yet, he knew he couldn’t be quiet. People are dying!

He had a young daughter. He wept openly whenever he thought of her alone should he ever feel the need to flee whatever issues were so untenable. Things he couldn’t know or imagine about these other people’s lives but that didn’t matter so much when he looked into her eyes.

He just saw images of scared, abused, people. He saw children. Children like his daughter. So, he did what he could.

He spoke up. 
He refused to be complicit by his silence.
He even protested at great personal risk. 

Mostly, he vowed to fight for change with his voice, his vote, and his actions.

He’d do whatever it takes to stop these things and make sure they never happen again as long as he could help it.

Whatever his actions did or didn’t accomplish, ultimately, he’d do everything he could to protect, defend, and treat others as he would want to be treated.

“Which person do you think followed my commandment above all others to love God and neighbor?” Jesus asked, “Which person do you think followed me?”

“Go and do likewise.”

Love Always Includes Justice. 

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Note: This story is based on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37.

My Wife is No Saint

My Wife is No Saint

“My Heart”
Beneath the surface my heart beats full with thoughts of you
In accepting me just as I am, my life was made anew
You didn’t change me, yet I did
Because love has a special way
Of growing something greater still
Each and everyday

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Today is my 10 year wedding anniversary.

On one hand, just like any man, I wonder how my wife puts up with me? On the other hand, she puts her pants on one leg at a time just like I do.

It’s true, I’m just a man. As I coined jokingly at church, “I’m just a man, she can’t expect much.”

Come on, guys, we all know women have the hardest job in relationships.

Her ability to keep going is amazing. Her resilience rivaled only by her heart. Heck, if I get the sniffles, I’ll claim to be dying in a whimpering voice.

You know what doesn’t enter into our relationship? My disability.

If my wife got a nickel for every time someone sainted her for being with me despite my disability, she’d have a lot of nickels!

Just last week, a neighbor approached her sympathetically telling her how difficult it must be to be with me. …The neighbor approached her.

My wife doesn’t seek sympathy just like I don’t seek the latest miracle cure.

This neighbor even closed their conversation, as my wife deflected this line of logic with, “Well, if you love somebody, I guess things don’t always seem so bad.”

I might be difficult to live with some days. But, again, that’s not disability related. On the contrary, we live remarkably ordinary married couple lives.

Yet, it happens again and again, the sad nods to my wife as others pass by.
(Don’t worry. These comments and gestures mostly go over my head, literally.)

That’s if they think we are together as a couple at all. Oftentimes, people assume she’s my caretaker. 

They’re stunned to find out I was married before. Not only that, I brought my now 12 year old daughter into our relationship.

So, here we are, 10 years in.

I love my wife and she loves me. We care for each other.

Not despite my disability, regardless of it.

Here’s to many more years regardless of the bodies in which we live. 
Peace Love and Acceptance

 

Hypocrites and the Law of Love

Hypocrites and the Law of Love

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

A lot of self-righteous people are going around these days telling others what they should or shouldn’t be doing. In some cases, these hypocrites have legislative power which can be a very dangerous thing.

Moreover, the hypocritical legislators can be swayed by other hypocrites too. Watch out when that happens because, as much as I hate this type reasoning, it happens from both sides. I feel this keenly as a disabled person.

We witness this in many ways.

Reproductive rights, exclusion from full participation whether in church or society, healthcare, straw bans, the list seems endless. I am going to explore each of these areas in my next several posts.

(Shameless Plug: I write every Monday and Thursday.)

But, rather than dwell on any one of these topics today, I want to offer for consideration what I believe is the best way forward no matter the subject at hand. My hope is that this will provide our basis for deeper discussion in these sensitive areas.

Note: Please chime in. I already know what I think. Be open. Be respectful. Listen and I will too.

Anyway, here it is, though, if you’ve read any of my other posts this won’t come as a great shock.

(If you haven’t that’s ok. I still love you. Shameless plug #2, please start reading, comment, and share. See: I already know what I think.)

Love always expands the circle. Love is inclusive. Love seeks justice and equality. Most of all, Love meets you where you are, knows one size doesn’t fit all, and Love love’s you just as you are even when you fall short.

I think of my experience with my daughter, Hope, and each of us are far from perfect. From the moment I held her, I knew nothing could ever stop me from loving her no matter what. She could kill me and, even though whatever pain she projected onto me would bring me great sadness, I would still love her.

Love just is. Love lives beyond what can be easily understood in our humanity. When I, as a Jesus follower ask, “What would Jesus do?” I’m really trying to discern, “What would Love do?”

Love is true, no matter what you believe or don’t believe as a matter of faith, even when the answers aren’t so easy. Perhaps that’s why we’re told Jesus said, “Love is greater than any of the other rules.” (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28)

Love is a good starting point even for old hypocrites like me. Let’s try it.

Tell me, what do you think?

Let me know if you have other discussion topics too. As long as you’re willing to respectfully participate, I’m willing to discuss. There is no shortage of questions. Who knows? Call me an optimist but maybe the answers can be found in our sharing together.

Wherever you are this day, thanks for joining me in reflection on these words of love as we share this part of our journey together and remember, wherever you find yourself, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance

A Little Hope

Before my daughter, Hope, was born I was so worried she would have a disability. Sure, I knew this fear was disproportionately irrational. Yes, I knew cerebral palsy was not hereditary. Still, I worried, and worried, and worried some more. You see, I had grown weary in a world where I was not only told, I internalized, I was not good enough.

When I was born, I was left at the hospital; Disability.  I transferred to schools different from my neighborhood friends; Disability. Yes, I even rode the short bus; the pinnacle of Disability for a young child.

The list goes on. “We’ll let you put on the uniform. You just can’t actually play town league baseball.” WOW! I’ve never written or said that aloud before. That’s called cripple, crip for short, crip-denial… I like that. It sounds cool, except living it out isn’t cool at all. Do you know I had another child’s parent tell me once, “We never treated you differently.” Ummm, “Hello?”

Of course, this meant there’d be no girls. I mean, who would want to be with or want their daughter to be with me? This didn’t come just from the inside. This wasn’t just a “me problem.” When I was very young, and mustered up the courage to call an early crush, a father instead answered the phone and when I didn’t get the hint told me, “Please don’t call here anymore. She wouldn’t want to talk to you.”

Later I’d move on to girls telling me “What a good friend I was”, and ask me, as they spun their tales of woe, “Don’t you think if Boy X liked me, he’d be sitting here with me?” Again, ummm, “Hello?” Sure, many boys encountered this. I simply encountered it more; Disability. There was no inspiration porn (look it up) inspired girls asking me to the prom. But, I digress.

All the while, especially in my early years, I was on top of my game. (Talk about dichotomy.) In some circles I was a cripple hero. The ultimate boy overcomer was I.   I wanted to ice skate, and fortunate boy that I was, there was an excellent organization that taught me, and other disabled kids like me, how to do it. Never, one to shy away from the spotlight, I quickly became a sort of poster boy for this upstart organization and I loved it.

I was in the newspaper multiple times, I was on TV the same. I was even on the show “Real People.” Remember that show? In case you don’t remember, it was a show which highlighted overcomers. Wait, was that early form inspirational porn? See?! Disability is sneaky! …No matter, I was just happy to be included. I was an insider; part of the team in a real, meaningful, way. I haven’t even told all the stories!

Others, over the years, have thought to include me too.  Friends, colleagues, teachers, and others. As my friend, Steve, once said when I wanted to feel the freedom of a motorcycle beneath me, “If you want to ride, we’re going to help you ride.” I am so grateful to so many, named and unnamed, for letting me be me, your equal.

That’s just it. Equality became the exception somewhere along the line for me and others like me. If I’m to be included, I have to measure up on your terms; to fit in, and fit your impossibly high standard mold. That’s not equal, that’s ableism (look it up); a real thing that happens in my world though few will acknowledge or accept this truth.

There you have it. I didn’t want all this to be the world of my little girl. I didn’t want her to have to fight as I. I want her world to treat her better than mine treated me.

For the record, I still want that world to be her truth. I think every parent wants their child’s world to be better which is why I’m fighting to make my world, her world, and your world, different and why I ask you to join me. Join me in whatever body you live; stand, sit, roll, or stroll, to make our world one where equality is the accepted norm.

As I read someplace this week, and I wish I could remember where, if access was the standard (Listen up church!) would wheelchair use even be considered a disability? It’s not impossible. Perhaps you’re old enough to remember, we once lived in a world without curb cuts too.

So I continue to fight. I may be louder than you’d sometimes wish. I’ll meet your poker hand and tell you, “I don’t want to be that guy either.” Blame it on age, musical, or theological viewpoint. Blame it on Bob Marley, Chuck D, or liberation theology. I hope you’ll place the blame, if we need to blame, where I believe it goes; on a worldly attitude tilted uphill for this wheelchair user. A world where I might keep up for a while but will find it nearly impossible to gain momentum.

As for my daughter, (remember her?), because I sure can’t forget; my greatest gift I’ve ever received. She is so much better than me. Nine years old and her world is already inclusive. Really, it is!

Her teacher told me a story recently. There’s a boy, much like me I imagine, who has cerebral palsy. He’s an older boy, a recent graduate of her school, who comes back to talk on occasion about disability.

As he was there one day, some kids made jokes and other kids, Hope’s age, admitted to being scared of him. However, before the teacher could talk to them, where was my daughter? She was right there, explaining to these other classmates her experience of disability. The teacher just sat back as Hope told them all about her wheelchair using dad with cerebral palsy, culminating with the closing line, “He’s not scary. He’s just my dad.”

Friends, this is what “On Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10, Luke 11:2) looks like. It’s the way to which we are to be oriented (Micah 6:8)

I guess I wouldn’t have worried so much about unborn Hope if all the whole world truly looked this way. So, may a little Hope enter your life too. May you remember her words the next time you encounter inequality in whatever way it presents itself and speak up; something she shows us is really simple if you don’t over think it. I know my life is infinitely better with her in it. I’m proud to be “just her dad.”