Tag Archives: government

A Place To Stand

2 Apr

I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

April 2 – Quotation Inspiration: Find a quote that inspires you (either positively or negatively) and free write about it for 15 minutes.

move the world2

Give me a place to stand and I can move the world. ~ Archimedes ~

While I was labouring with my first child, I channelled some of my pain by yelling out swear words about Ontario’s new premier, who had been appointed after the resignation of his predecessor. I did not have much interest in Canadian politics at the time: I had only been in the country for three years and I did not have the right to vote. Adjusting to living in a new country and being pregnant had pretty much taken up all of my energy.

I didn’t know anything about this man I was yelling obscenities about, except that he had this irritating whiny voice that made me wish my head would just explode.

At some later point, after Mr. Whiny Voice had been ousted from office, I asked someone how Toronto’s problem with homelessness had originated. The answer horrified me. Apparently, the former Ontario government – the one led by Whiny Voice’s predecessor – had cut funding to a lot of services, mental health care being one of them. As a result, patients with mental illness suddenly found themselves being ousted from programs that they could not afford to pay for themselves, and in the absence of homes or job prospects, they had ended up on the streets.

When I heard about this, I just wanted to cry for these people. I mean, is that any way to treat a human being? Stop their treatment and put them out in the street?

As an autism parent, I know all about the difficulties with funding. Governments do not have unlimited money, and increasing – or in some cases, merely maintaining services comes with raised taxes, and that never goes down well with the public.

I could offer up a thousand suggestions as to what could be cut instead of services that allow people to have basic dignity and quality of life, but this post is already in danger of being more political than I’m generally comfortable with.

Instead, I will say this: that every single person has a place in this world. No matter what challenges they face, no matter what their strengths and weaknesses are, and no matter what level of functioning they ultimately achieve, they are all rightful members of the communities in which they live, and they should be respected as such.

I often tell the story about the day we received George’s autism diagnosis. In the midst of the devastation that goes with this kind of thing, the doctor started talking about his prognosis for George’s future. He didn’t hold out much hope, and we left his office that day thinking that as an adult, George wouldn’t be able to do much more than sweep floors.

The reality has turned out to be very different, and although George is an eight-year-old with some profound challenges, he is also an eight-year-old with a great deal of intelligence and a ton of potential.

But that is not the point. The point is this: so what if George grows up to sweep floors or clean toilets? Can you imagine what the subway station or the airport or the shopping mall would be like if there was no-one to sweep the floors or clean the toilets?

Whether my son sweeps floors, becomes a computer programmer, works in a library, or wins the Nobel Peace Prize for revolutionizing heart transplant surgery, he has a place in the world.

It is my job to help him reach his full potential, whatever that may turn out to be.

It is up to me to help him find a place to stand so that he can move his world.

He already totally rocks mine.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sporst/6914330609/sizes/m/in/photostream/. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)

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Do I Really Need A New Dress?

15 Dec

This coming Saturday, Gerard and I are going to pretend we have a life and go out for the evening, sans children.  Said children will be home with their grandmother, no doubt driving her insane with their boundless energy that never runs out. They’re like the Energizer Bunny, those children.  They just keep going and going and going.

Gerard and I will be heading downtown, to some fancy hotel, to attend the Christmas gala dinner being put on by my employers.  There will be prizes, good food that neither of us had to cook ourselves (and that no-one will have to clean up after), dancing, and out-and-out fun.  I am looking forward to it.  Gerard is looking forward to it.  My mother-in-law is looking forward to an evening alone with the kids – at least, that’s the story she’s bravely putting forth.

And yet I find myself with a dilemma.  This is a dilemma that men can never seem to quite grasp the severity of, but that women all over the world can identify with.

What Do I Wear?

I posed this question on Facebook, and it sparked a fairly lively debate.  Most of the people who responded – all women – were of the opinion that I should buy myself a new dress.  The general consensus was that I work hard, I’m always taking care of other people and not enough care of myself, and that I deserve to pamper myself a little and buy something nice.  There was one lone dissenter – a man.  To protect his privacy, I will not state Kane’s real name (whoops, did I just say that out loud?), but I will say that I am impressed with his bravery.  How many men would jump so fearlessly into a discussion that women are genetically programmed to feel strongly about?

I love Kane.  He is a good and dear friend, and I give him credit for the fact that I actually survived the intense loneliness and off-the-boat neediness that I experienced when I first came to Canada.  Unlike many people, he actually does possess common sense, and he has the integrity to be honest instead of just saying what he thinks people want to hear.  I value Kane’s opinions a great deal.  when he expresses an idea that is contrary to what other people are saying, he’s not trying to be difficult.  He’s trying to help.

And that is why, when Kane posted a reply asking if I really need to spend money on a new dress just for one party, I actually did stop and think.  After all, he has a valid point.  There are other things that I could be doing with my money.  I have kids to buy Christmas presents for, a wedding to plan, groceries to buy, telephone bills to pay.  A new dress should not be high on my laundry list of priorities.  And besides, I have a closet at home that I can barely get into because it’s so chock-full of clothes.  There must be something in there that I can wear.

But.

But, but, but, but, but…

Even as the logical, rational part of me (and yes, despite what many people think, there actually is a logical, rational part of me) was making a strong case for saving money and digging something out of the scary depths of my wardrobe, there was another part of me that was pitifully saying, “But I want a new dress”.  Talk about conflict.  Talk about indecision.  For a couple of days I was flip-flopping between “Have to have a new dress” and “Cannot afford a new dress”.  How I wish I could just win the lottery and not have this problem.

By the time I got home from work yesterday, I had come to some kind of compromise with myself.  You see, I have this skirt.  A really nice long black skirt that is perfect for occasions like this.  What I would do, I decided, was buy a nice top with bling to go with the skirt.  That way, I still get to wear something new, but without forking over the money for an entire dress.

Ten minutes after I got home, that plan went right out the window.  What happened was this: I opened the mail.  And found a cheque from the Government of Ontario. For $335.  I will say this in words, because it somehow adds more weight.  Three. Hundred. And Thirty Five. Dollars.  The Ontario Premier has been sending out these “sorry I screwed you over with the sales tax” cheques, and I got enough to be able to say, “Screw this, I’m getting a new dress!”

So at lunchtime today, I wandered over to my favourite clothing store in the shopping mall, and emerged with a lovely new dress that I got on sale. The way I see it, everyone wins.  I get to go to the party in a new dress.  And I still have an extra $200 in my bank account that I didn’t have before, which means I can splurge a bit on Christmas presents for the ones I love.

And I’ve contributed to the economy by doing a bit of spending.  Just doing my civic duty.