Actually, A combo #TBT and A Follow-Up to, um…follow.
The Silence Frightens Me From May of 2013.
Since I took on the personal quest to begin blogging about Marcus and our life, two particularly disturbing events regarding persons with disability have occurred. One is the death of Ethan Saylor the second is the callous beliefs spoken by a Cornwall councillor, Colin Brewer.
In short: Ethan Saylor was killed by three off duty police officers who have not yet been held responsible and Colin Brewer further clarified his opinion that “disabled children should be put down,” by likening disabled children to lambs who should be “smashed against the wall and be dealt with.” I’m not exaggerating, by the way, the article with his comments is here.
A small, but persistent group made up primarily of parents, shout for justice and recourse. Another group, also loud in their way but with unknown connections or intentions, troll articles such as those aforementioned and spread their venom and ignorance. These trolls are allowed hate language in comments even on news sources like The New York Times because it’s “a discussion.” Showing us that the value of some lives is still up for debate.
In the middle of both of these groups lays a wide valley of silence. A heavy silence that weighs upon my heart and breaks it.
In the case of Ethan Saylor, there are several petitions calling for an independent investigations, this one, for example, has less than 9,000 votes, another petition to the white house expired due to lack of votes. Contrast these to the petition asking the Walt Disney Company to refrain from redesigning the Merida Disney princess character, at the moment it sits at 220,000 supporters. Colin Brewer voiced his opinion, “disabled children should be put down,” before he ran for and won re-election. I remind myself, this middle group’s silence may be because these issues don’t make everyone’s radar. I get that. This last week I took a week “off” from both the news and Facebook; I just can’t process it all. And the news we do see is more often catered to our own worlds, conservatives watch their news, liberals theirs, readers read about books, gamers keep up on games, and business people do business.
Another possible reason for silence is when people wonder “What good does my voice do?” Last week on voting day in my hometown a lady at the coffee shop said to me, “Is that today? Oh, I’m not going to vote. It doesn’t make any difference anyway.” To this let me reply, Colin Brewer won his election by four votes, FOUR VOTES. In my hometown the election results came in close, not that close, but no one knows this before they vote. There were folks who, as is the current custom, couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either person for mayor. I felt the same way, but I wanted my teeny tiny little voice to be included in the mix. I asked Marcus if I could vote for him, he said no, so I wrote my own name in. It’s something.
Regarding the Ethan Saylor case, a representative from the Department of Justice actually said he needed to assess “community tension,” before deciding to proceed. This is the world we live in. (You can easily show your “tension” here) One voice can inspire another. One voice can defend another.
No one shows us the power of one voice better than Dr. Seuss. Remember, in Whoville? “A person is a person no matter how small.” And in the end, (spoiler alert) it was the voice of one more person that broke through the worlds. One small Who could not have done it alone, but the world was saved because he spoke. Don’t tell yourself one voice, be it petition, letter, editorial, or vote, doesn’t count. As long as we keep speaking, voting, and writing, advocacy counts. Because they add up and then they count. Not only count, but the new collective voice eases into the community knowledge, and those in the first group who didn’t hear of these situations, are then informed.
Bernie Bradly says we should thank Mr. Brewer, so we can force open discussions with those of his ilk, she says it eloquently and she’s right. Haley of Downssideup charges forward with enviable voice and energy. I’m not going to waste my breath towards Colin Brewer, however. I’m far away from him in place, mind and spirit. I have a stake in this argument, and therefore my opinion is somehow less valid. (Backwards!)
But you…you in the silence…
You who love your children because of how they surprise you and how they make you laugh. You who fight for their education. You who revel in their discoveries and push them to their potential. You who cry when they are hurt. You who celebrate your child’s unique patchwork. Know we are in this together. It is not yet time to hand the world to our children, let’s keep shaping it into a place every person is celebrated. Your voice molds theirs and your silence molds the future. Please, won’t you speak up?
“No life, if properly recognized, is without cosmic importance.” – Hortense Odlum
 Thank you twitter for this reminder:
This is actually really legit advice. RT @sean_m_maher: “Don’t try and win over the haters; you’re not the jackass whisperer.”
— Jessica McDonald (@coloradojess) May 6, 2013
Very well said! The lack of outrage speaks volumes about the public opinion. Some (even among our FRIENDS) seem afraid to “upset” anyone by taking a stand. And some actually take sides by refusing to participate in the discussion. It amazes me too how petitions on other matters gain thousands of signatures overnight… Thanks for putting the problem into words!
I know Stephanie, even I have worried, “Is it too much? Should I keep pounding?” But, sigh… of course until we get some good news, we must keep on, eh?
Thanks for the comment.
Thank you for writing this. I find the silence both confusing and terrifying. However, one thing you said that I think is so very important is, “One voice can inspire another. One voice can defend another.”
I don’t want act like this is a cheap way to get a link to my own blog so if you are interested check out a post I wrote called “How to change the world like a butterfly.” In the post I highlight some parts of a book I read as part of a master’s program in business.
In short it talks about the dynamics that occur between people and systems. When people join together the end result is always larger than just the some of the individuals. The butterfly effect is real. If each person does what comes natural to them, as long as they do something it will create a ripple that will continue.
Thanks again for this post.
Yes, I didn’t even get into the terrifying part, and it is so much there.
This is one of those posts written to convince myself too, thank you for your additional information.
We have to keep working in hope.
Truth. I think deep down inside, our own community is not confident enough to label what happened to Saylor as injustice (as opposed to tragic misunderstanding). Similarly, I wonder if, deep down, some can’t see how truly disgusting Cornwall’s comments are. Maybe in order to face what created Cornwall, we would have to collectively face too much ourselves. I don’t know all the answers but it terrifies me as well.
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