Revisiting some of our assumptions…
Long time citizen advocate and board member Linda Wittish wrote this several years ago and has shared it at a covered dish supper a time or two. It continues to be provocative. See what you think. Your comments are welcome …
Every person matters. If we believe that, we have a responsibility – an obligation – to protect and encourage one another.
Every person has talents and gifts and contributions to make to other people and to our community. There are strong forces at work in our society that undermine that assumption. People can be trapped in roles that can overshadow their role as a citizen of our community. Sometimes a person is seen only as a problem or as a project. Individuality, the essence of the person, becomes hidden.
The world we live in chooses to segregate people viewed as different or less valuable away from the ordinary activities and opportunities that are part of being a citizen in our community. This must be questioned and challenged. Entering into a personal relationship and finding ways to help someone participate in community life can do this.
Being separated from community sets up barriers and devalues people’s perceived worth. This leads to more rejection and negative stereotypes being reinforced. This devaluation is dangerous and puts people in harm’s way and at greater risk of being hurt. Once a person is seen as part of a devalued group of people, a different set of rules begin to apply.
Coming into a reciprocal relationship with a person who has been devalued opens up powerful opportunities for people to learn. That learning process teaches us that a lot of what we thought or grew up believing isn’t true. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion, the more you peel back the closer you get to the truth.
We are inviting people into relationships where there will be great joy and struggle. This is a rich and real journey. This is the journey we all face in our lives. We are asking people to go on this journey together.
We assume that people will choose to go on this journey and make a commitment to the well-being of another person. The relationship will be built on finding common interests and finding ways to create more commonality between one another.
Personal commitment is the most powerful form of action over time. This forms the foundation for action and encourages people to be bigger and better citizens.
There are many hidden and unexpected teachers among us. We hear about them from people we call advocates. This is the power of our idea.