Bonnie Sherr Klein – The Gift of Asking

Bonnie Sherr Klein is a celebrated documentary filmmaker.  From her base at the National Film Board she created award winning films such as, the anti-pornography documentary Not a Love Story and Speaking Our Peace.  Along the way she helped create Studio D – the world's first government funded studio devoted to women filmmakers.  In 1987 she suffered the first of two catastrophic stokes that nearly killed her.  Her recovery and new vocation as a woman with a disability are recounted in Slow Dance – A Story of Love Stroke and Disability.  And in her 2004 return to film making, Shameless: The Art of Disability.

Slow Dance is also the story of Bonnie's appreciation for the mysterious nature of gifts beyond those associated with doing.  At the end of her book she invites us to ponder the wisdom of other important gifts – asking, vulnerability, dependence.

"Before my stroke, I had the mistaken notion that feminism meant "independence"; the unspoken corollary was that disability (and aging) meant shameful dependence on others.What I have learned finally is that in asking for help I offer other people an opportunity for intimacy and collaboration.  Whether I'm asking for me personally or for disabled people generally, I give them the opportunity to be their most human.  In Judaism we call this gift a mitzvah."

– Bonnie Sherr Klein, Slow Dance, page 355-56, Knopf.

This reflection is part of the series: How People With Disabilities Will Save the World.  I welcome your suggestions or guest contributions.  You can access the whole series by clicking the category: Save the World.

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