Friday, September 14, 2007

You're inconvenienced for a day - We're Inconvenienced for a lifetime

I was in Chicago all week with ADAPT. Unlike most of the protesters I stood my ground on the street corners just beyond where the police held vigil keeping the public away. So I handed out leaflets and talked to the people who had questions. Most people took a flyer. I don't know that they all read it, but many did right, then, and there.

Some would stop and ask me questions on their way back in the opposite direction an hour later. Some would read a bit that then come back to ask questions. Nearly everyone I talked to - whether they originally agreed with what we were doing or not agreed by the time they walked away.

What made the angriest stop and think was when I said that yes, I sympathized with the fact that they were inconvenienced - that they were forced to go where they did not want to go - but tomorrow they could go where they wanted to go, but how many people with disabilities had a lifetime of not being allowed to go where they wanted to go.

I was surprised by how many people had stories to tell me. Stories about a grandparent forced to go to a nursing home because they could not get any funds for care at home, about a sister who wanted nothing more than to die in her own bed but ended up dying 2 days after being placed in a nursing home, a parent who cried when they told me about the institution her child had lived in and how horrible it was but at the time she felt she had no other choice, the direct care worker who wanted to work in the community because she hated the institution but she couldn't live on the wages she would get working in a home, and the older man who told me about the days he worked in an institution and remembers it as filthy and not fit for humans.

The people do get it. Why don't the people who make policy get it?

No one who doesn't want to live their life in a nursing home should. Everyone in this country should have access to affordable, accessible, integrated housing. It's that simple.

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