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.
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!
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)
Rudderless Ship Assailed by Stormy Seas Wave Battered Sinking No Release
As Smiles Abound.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18
Do you ever wonder if others can really see you; not just what’s on the surface but underneath? It probably doesn’t happen most of the time. We’ve become good hiders.
That’s what I love about the dynamics between Jesus and his disciple, Peter.
Peter gets it wrong as much as right. He sinks in water instead of focusing on Jesus. He goes around chopping off ears. Still, Jesus sees and loves him. He sees the possibilities behind the fearful surface Peter exudes.
That’s the heart of God. It does the same for us. It strips away all the coverings of brokenness and finds the good underneath. Yet, I still wrestle with this.
I know God can see me completely, but I still cover it up. Talk about hubris.
I hide my true self from others too. Vulnerability is scary. They won’t accept me if they know my weaknesses.
Except, we all have weaknesses. Some of us might be better at hiding them but we all have weaknesses, fears, insecurities, and shortcomings. So, what if we didn’t hide them?
Maybe we’d all be better off if we were a little more honest with ourselves and each other. Maybe, we could engage in meaningful conversation and begin to break through all our divisions.
I don’t think it’s easy. Being vulnerable might be more difficult for us than building equitable systems and relationships and, frankly, we are pretty bad at both these things.
However, since I have to start somewhere. Maybe this change starts with me.
I hope you’ll join me in building coalitions of love, justice, vulnerability, and equity. In doing so I believe we are truly being faithful disciples of Jesus.
What do you think?
God, you see my heart.
You know my hurts and pains. You sit with me in my brokenness and comfort me. Use me as you will to be open to the hearts of others. Help me be open too that I might sit with them and together we might know your peace even amidst sadness and uncertainty. May this be my prayer.
Amen. Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.
The following piece is cross posted in conjunction with my friend, Tim Vermande, who writes at Flying Kitty Monster. His reflections from a recent conversation are below along with this graphic from G. Lake Dylan.
My friend, and co-conspirator who wrote the poem above, Chris of Crip Pastor remarked a few days ago while writing about a particular event that he is not trying to join in some “oppression Olympics,” what with so much of nation in an attack mode lately, but to share experience. It is true that even allies don’t often fully understand, but almost everyone can be in solidarity from common roots–as I once said about another group at seminary, we all have an interest in being judged for who we are, not by appearance.
As I read that, my thoughts turned to conversations about disability simulations. In a simulation, limbs are tied to splints, blindfolds worn, or similar measures. The intent is to give a feeling for what it’s like to live with a disability. The idea of giving a feeling is true enough–I once had a class of interior designers try to simply enter a room and reach the wall switch while in a wheelchair. It was an enlightening time.
But it wasn’t complete–it lasted an hour. An hour is not a lifetime (or the time of a life since an injury). After a quite troubled week of access problems, I list some real-life things that a disability simulation will probably never convey:
Making a hotel reservation well in advance, confirming it by phone, and arriving to find that the accessible room isn’t available after all.
Asking extensively several times at a theatre about wheelchair seating, only to find that you’ve been given inaccurate information, and have to sit by yourself in isolation.
Being told that a place is accessible, only to find a step or two when you arrive, and then being told, “well, it’s only a small step.”
The exhaustion of taking a 20-minute paratransit trip that picks you up an hour late, takes two hours while the driver crams in a last-minute addition (which takes you past your house twice) and ends up taking more than 2 hours, so you miss dinner and part of your meeting.
The time that evaporates as you call ahead, plan ahead, and hope (as noted, sometimes to no avail) for an event.
Entering a restaurant in winter, looking forward to eating with friends in a warm atmosphere, you see that there are a lot of open tables, but you are taken to a cramped booth (with fixed seats) next to the take-out door.
Being on the upper floor of a hotel when the fire alarm sounds and the elevators shut down.
Being on the upper floor of a hotel when the power goes out.
Giving your wheelchair to an attendant on an airplane, not knowing if you will ever see it again, if it will get shuffled to the wrong place, or if it will be damaged.
The look of surprise when someone realizes that, despite some problem here or there, you are an intelligent, functional human being worthy of respect.
And finally, the feeling of being alone when you are too exhausted to go out, or left out because of access or transportation problems, or someone hasn’t caught on to the previous item yet.
— Poem by Chris Wylie
— Post by Tim Vermande
— illustration by G. Lake Dylan