Will Shared Joys, Hardships and Talents Unite Us?

Here’s an admission.  Your resident Blog Master is one of many modern folk who have taken to so-called internet dating to find love.  And it looks like paying off!

Now a date, technically, is any experience in which a man and a woman, determined to see if each other would make a good wife or husband.  Traditionally, the man, desiring to become leader of his household, bears responsibility for the cost and logistics of dates.

Online, often from a distance of many kilometres, this simply isn’t possible, so how does one know that a relationship of trust is on the make? In our case, I live in Australia and Ute, the wonderful German-American woman I’m cyber-seeing, in Taiwan, of all places!

Ute and I both work in Asian-language contexts and love using words. Both of us bear a type of suffering requiring patience, empathy and desire to proclaim the inherent goodness of our lives because of and despite our difficulties. Underpinning all this is a shared Faith, to which we are both Converts.

Recently, she and I had the happiness of our work and interests colliding unexpectedly to produce something good for the world at large.

Ute works as a secretary at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. It has activities in many, diverse disciplines – mathematics and physical sciences, life sciences, humanities and social sciences – in which it has made important contributions.  Ute’s role is diverse and challenging, and it’s lovely being along for the ride, to see her skills and talents put to great use.

Readers can imagine that Ute’s skills in interpreting Chinese are challenged daily, when new topics arise with peculiar jargon or a culture all their own.

So it was that Ute was called on to edit the Chairperson’s opening speech to the annual Workability International Conference, hosted by Taiwan’s Eden Social Welfare Foundation. Ute, knowing of my inherent interest in people with disabilities, and wanting to promote my writing talents (I humbly submit that I have them!) believed I could help with the editing.

The remarks originally referred to people with “mental and physical disabilities”, and Ute wondered if this was right.

Now, just for the record, although I’m all for people speaking easily about those of us with disabilities, some ways of describing disabilities are better than others. It’s simply correct to say, “people with intellectual disabilities” and I said so.

Ute asked whether I would like to help more with the speech, and of course I took that opportunity for all it was worth, but with some caution. The price of making a mistake,  going too far – or not far enough – could be high!

Given carte blanche, I made some tentative changes, and sent them off directly to Director Lo.  Okay, all I did was change “persons” to “people”, making the speech a bit less stilted and more natural. A small alteration to add more warmth to what Mrs Lo was   to say, not only to help her, but also humanise those her speech was about.  “Persons” sounds so much like bureaucrat-speak.

Next thing we know, the Chairperson’s remarks are being reported on the  Taipei Times website, in a newspaper almost unknown to me at that time.  Director Lo’s , Ute’s and my work is well and truly out there for all to read and take note.

Now, although my own contribution was small, it significance in manifesting what Ute and I feel is the purpose of our being together – to be a source of hope to each other and all about us – is not lost on us.  It was not what some would call an omen, but a chance to see how our talents, qualities and humanity might combine to be good for others, no matter what may happen to any other kind of relationship.

Indeed, we have much to work out in joy, in fear and trembling perhaps before Ute and I truly know that our destinies lie in being with each other. Despite many hiccups, all is going well for us at present, and we earnestly desire to find out what the future holds.

I spent some of the afternoon on which the conclusion to this piece was written at the opening of a new liquor store at my local shopping centre.  A cross-section of the community was there enjoying good cheer on a chilly winter’s day. So, of course were the proprietor of this store, Keith, and his business partner, who is also his partner in love. Chatting to them I found out it their was involvement in a common interest – the liquor industry – that brought them together too. They seem very happy, with a bright future ahead.

This is but one experience. As Aristotle is supposed to have said, “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day”. But somehow, today, everything seems possible!

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Academic Tries to Re-open Discussion

A local Academic has called for the revival of local discussion on whether euthanasia should be allowed.  But as some readers’ comments suggest, the issue is seen as peripheral and irrelevant to an esteemed institution of learning the Australian National University,  currently facing a funding crisis.  It is a wonder how and why people get away with fuelling issues of real interest to so few, but with potential consequences for so many, when their own positions are so potentially tenuous.

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Lack of Understanding of Suicide Bodes Ill for Safeguards

This feature, from the local Press demonstrates that the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T) health system, among others, cannot yet understand, let alone prevent an alarmingly high rate of suicides here. So how on earth would any so-called safeguards function adequately if legislation were potentially to legalise euthanasia? Truth is, those who were truly determined would easily find their way around such measures.

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A New Role, A New Lease on Life

 

No doubt about it, it’s been a long time between posts!

The greatest joys that have befallen me during this time away have been requests to become Godfather to not one, but two terrific little boys, Raphael and Christopher.  I have known these two wonderful little chaps’ families for quite some time, and it’s an honour and privilege to enter a deeper relationship with them.

The position of Godfather (sounds like it should come with a job-description, maybe the word, role is better!), was given freely and, in my two cases, as a complete, joy-filled  surprise.  Thus, it affirms my standing and reputation with two sets of parents, who believe I have the necessary virtues and other qualities to help bring up their two sons in the Spiritual Life.

Being a Godfather encourages me to not despair when things may seem rough, but to know that, to some degree, two other humans depend on my presence, even to a small extent, for their well-being.  Nothing gives me greater pride or provides more reassurance when times, if times are a bit tough.

Traditional roles such as Godparent, taken seriously and bestowed thoughtfully, not as a token gesture, are a way of recognising the virtues and ability to contribute of people whom modern society may discounts or even ignores.  Such roles would affirm the place in society of those lacking in attributes that the modern, materialistic culture currently “values”.

So, finally, heres to Raphael and Christopher! This one is for you.  Long may you live, love and be loved.

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Scrutinise Ethics for Children, Before it’s Too Late

Preventing legalisation of euthanasia in a society surely starts with providing kids with sound ethical frameworks by which to evaluate such laws.

In the State Parliament of New South Wales, an Inquiry is ongoing to evaluate the worth of ethics classes provided to children whose parents do not wish them to attend classes based on Scripture.

Recently, Catherine Suttie, the ethics program coordinator at Sydney’s Randwick Public School, appearing as a witness to the Inquiry, on behalf of Parents 4 Ethics.  Suttie professed not to have heard much about the utilitarian philosopher, Professor Peter Singer. She was ignorant not only of Singer’s views on the possibility of sexual relations between humans and animals, but also, more worryingly, of his belief that some children with disabilities should be euthanised.

Whilst children may not be asked directly to consider euthanasia or inter-species sexual relations, the prospect of children being taught utilitarian thinking, as a method equal to any other for organising and making sense of their lives, is disturbing. How would it affect relations between students from different backgrounds, with or without disabilities, many of whom may not be able to see the limitations of such philosophy?

It is to be expected that one of those protesting so much at the scrutiny of  Singer’s philosophy and its place in schools is a Greens MP. Peter Singer co-authored the Greens Party’s Manifesto, which includes the introduction of euthanasia laws as one of the Party’s ideals.

 

 

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The “We Wish You Weren’t There” Treatment

Sorry that things have been rather slow on this blog of late. It hasn’t been my intention to remain silent.

I recently read an entry on another ‘blog – one to do with so-called “online dating, of all things -about couples giving each other the “silent treatment”, in which either or both partners actually send messages that they wish the other were not there.

This kind of silence is very dangerous when it comes to considering the lives of people with disabilities. Not listening or communicating to us in ways that respect our worthiness and ability to contribute so society, seems to tell us that it would be better were we not there.

How do you experience this type of silence and how does it affect your sense of being wanted, respected or treated as worthwhile?

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Domestic Violence Opens Us Up to Greater Vulnerability

Protection from the ideas euthanasia and assisted suicide can come from improving laws on domestic violence and the living conditions of people with disabilities.

It’s good to see that in this story from the local rag, a  group called Advocacy for Inclusion are recognising the potential harm that can arise from people with disabilities living in group homes, where a culture of violence may exist. Yet it is also a sign of the low regard society has for people with disabilities that such conditions have been allowed to fester, making people vulnerable.

Such a culture may increase the despair of residents in favour of euthanasia for themselves. Violence may also include coercion to self-harm, suicide or assisted suicide.

Results could be disastrous if laws supporting euthanasia were introduced into the present toxic context in the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T.), where I live, but a wider definition of “domestic relationships”, in this case, might afford people with disabilities living in group homes greater security. The same breadth of definition, taken in another context, could allow people to influence others’s decisions when they actually have no right to do so

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