The belief that caring brings out the best in people.
My mother’s stroke was a really formative moment in my life and I think because of it I have been attuned to seeing other expressions of that. When I started to write about crisis in The Shock Doctrine, it was with a sense that these moments of trauma could bring out the best in people. (Naomi Klein)
Families of children with special needs are bonded by a shared experience of the joys, challenges, fears and blessings of raising these beautiful children whom we see as perfect in this imperfect world. (Sarah Palin)
There may be other beliefs and values they have in common. It’s likely we will never know because the verbal pushing and shoving inside the political arena ensures there is no predisposition, opportunity or time to find out.
Regardless, it would be worth the effort. It has certainly been worth the effort in my life as a disability advocate. I’ve had nearly 40 years of experience finding common cause with those who don’t share many of my beliefs and values. After fruitless efforts believing one political party was better than the other to advance the disability agenda, I have the following observations:
- Disability is omnipresent and non-partisan. It straddles race, colour, creed, voting preferences and views on the big issues of the day.
- People from widely differing political beliefs and values can come together to advance justice for disenfranchised groups. That’s the main reason we have the world’s only Registered Disability Savings Plan in Canada.
- Enlightenment and empathy toward one minority group strengthens a “compassion muscle” that can be put to work on behalf of other groups being marginalized.
People with disabilities are already the largest minority group in the world. If you factor in those living with chronic illness, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other health challenges or recovering from accidents and then add those taking care of them – their family, close friends, care providers, work colleagues and neighbours, the minority group becomes a clear majority. The caring majority.
That’s why Vickie Cammack and I believe natural care is the unifying force to strengthen our democracy and to address the serious social and environmental challenges we face.
So where does this leave us in the world of fake news where white supremacists are emboldened, sacred trusts are being fractured and fascist thinking appears to be on the rise?
- Accept that evil does exist and resist it with all your love and power
- Punish evildoers through legislation and due process
- Recognize that sympathizers and voters for people with divisive, evil tendencies are not necessarily evil themselves. The partisan arena incites people to do and say things they wouldn’t at home or in their neighbourhood. I wrote about this dilemma here.
Gandhi used salt and the spinning wheel as tangible symbols of resistance to British rule over India. He deliberately chose to move the idea of rights from an abstract concept to a practical matter affecting everyone. He was looking to unify not divide.
I believe there is value in seeking common cause with people I don’t like, don’t know, mistrust and dread. As the parent of a daughter with a disability, I’m a member of the same caring majority as many of them. If more of us devoted attention and resources to that effort the results would outshine white supremacists and other promoters of darkness and evil.
Think back to when you sat in Emergency with a youngster who was hurt or waited with a partner as they underwent chemo, or hung around hospice for any length of time. The sense of camaraderie, indeed shared identity with others experiencing the same worry, trauma, hope, fear and emotional tumult as you is palpable. Notice how everyone becomes more human, kind and decent.
Once we “see” each other it’s not as easy to go back to our judgmental ways. Especially if the seeds of understanding are nurtured.
Natural caring represents an opportunity for nurturing those fragile seeds. It makes sense to begin tilling that common ground.
Say to the darkness, “We beg to differ.” (Mary Jo Leddy)