I watched a PBS program called “America after Ferguson”. I liked the way it was a group of people each talking about their own experiences and perceptions. The real discussion was about being heard, inclusion, fairness, justice, progression, self examination, and most importantly in my opinion…what each of us should be DOING. Talk is a start, but then it has to be acted on.

Their discussion focused on mostly issues of race and power, but what struck me is that it could be about anything. It should be a model for all sorts of issues and the way we treat each other. If we are talking to a group of like-minded people, we have a better chance to truly be heard and understood. When we are talking to a general audience, there are a lot more misunderstandings. One reason I love support groups 😊

It’s a lot like me trying to advocate for myself in a room of Republican politicians. They are already sure their beliefs are correct and I am sure they are more self centered than inclusive. We have each been there and done that and have little respect for “other”.

I applied for disability when Reagan was president. He was big into pointing the finger at certain groups of people as “the problem”. The first time I applied was when he tossed people off disability and some people killed themselves. When my application was denied, I didn’t understand it was all a game and I did not appeal. It took a few years until I tried again. The 80’s was a turbulent time in the history of disability. That early experience didn’t endear me to the Republican point of view. It was obvious that I was hated for just existing. Not much has changed. Disabled people are often used as political pawns.

Just as there are many religions, colors of people, countries/regions in the world, sexual orientation/expression and all the myriad ways we can differentiate from each other, there are also many, many kinds of disabilities…seen and unseen. Mental, mechanically physical, ill physical, etc, etc that are separately or all together a challenge. A program for deaf people isn’t helpful for the average wheelchair user.

The truth is that NONE OF US can even begin to comprehend the challenges and needs of another person. That’s why it’s so important to care about each other as fellow humans and LISTEN to them. Any political actions need to be based on inclusion, not on money. I think the U.S. makes some pretty creepy decisions based solely on money and privilege.

So…what each of us should be doing, is first of all, thinking about what we most need and want. Then it’s up to us to pursue it by being open and honest with ourselves and each other. We can get educated, make money, pursue goals and care about the world we live in. When people start caring less about each other and more about STUFF, I think we all lose. It’s a lot easier to earn money and put up fences than it is to learn to get along. My perception of most wealth is that it’s a way to avoid the messiness of human interdependence. With enough money, you can buy your way out of having to care about anyone but you. I see it as a form of mental illness. Instead of seeing it for what it is, some people aspire to it!

One of my all time favorite books is called “hope for the flowers”. If you haven’t read it yet….get thee to the library! Once you read this allegorical story, you will understand how it fits here.

Anyway, I am best at advocating for myself and you are best at making YOUR needs known. Once we understand and care about each other, we then advocate for both of us. Multiply this times all your friends and relatives and people you meet and the sphere of caring and concern is all encompassing.

Dividing ourselves into black and white, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, etc, etc isn’t helping any of us lead happier, more intentional and productive lives. I feel like we are all banging our heads against the wall instead of cooperating. If things aren’t working….quit trying harder to do the SAME thing over and over! Do something different!

I love collaborative stuff with true give and take. I hate the deceitfulness of people who condescendingly say don’t worry, we care about you…who go right back to only doing what is easiest for them. Few people are going to change unless they are highly motivated to do so.

A hundred people might complain about a dangerous intersection, but it gets put on the back burner until a few people die. Most change is reactive, not proactive. We are all too tired until we HAVE TO act.

Well, I am certainly at that point for myself. In my earlier years, I was too embarrassed to talk about disability and my lack of money. At some time, at least part of me acknowledged it wasn’t my fault. I became more and more assertive for my rights, wants and needs. This is definitely the worst it has ever been for me to get decent health care and to find ways to cope with not enough money. Unless you are at the top financially speaking, I am sure you have found your income buys less and less. There are many measures of what is “sufficient” to live on, but $721/month cash doesn’t make it in this country. It has long been agreed that housing should be about 30% of income, not the 71% I pay.

There isn’t enough funding for Section 8 and affordable housing for all of us who need it. Many cities have closed their waiting lists, and people can wait for a decade or more for relief.

Back when the economy was booming and I was not competing with a huge percent of the population for limited resources, it wasn’t as dire. The harder it is for people to get by, the more resentment towards someone like me who doesn’t work and gets some government help. Where I used to be forgotten or despised, I am now envied. The extremely wealthy have turned people on each other so we don’t acknowledge the real problem of greed at the top.

I don’t understand most people. I wish when we talk to each other it was just to be honest and connect as human beings…with no other motives. I love that stuff. I hate having to be on guard for folks who aren’t who they seem.

On a different tangent, I noticed that now that my voice is all broken up, people perceive my intelligence differently and treat me with even less respect once they determine I am also low income. It’s as if I have found a new way to be seen as substandard.

When I was traveling, I went to all three hours of church every Sunday. I have mentioned it before, but some random place I stopped, the discussion in Relief Society was about a bishop who had lost his job. Several women came to the conclusion that he had lost his “mantle of authority” along with his job. The discussion was deeply troubling to me. One woman spoke up and said that BECAUSE he wasn’t employed, the bishop had been available to help their family through a tough time.

There is a pervasive perception in Mormon culture that God heaps lots of good stuff on righteous believers and if someone is lacking in health or material wealth, there must be a reason that God doesn’t like them as much. Really??? God’s only begotten Son was low income and persecuted and tortured and died. As far as I know, every prophet ever called by God have endured a lot of worldly sorrow along the way. And my hero, Job, endured every sort of illness, loss of wealth and loss of relationships. Hardship on earth does not equal lack of faith. I think it’s a test of faith and endurance. If life is easy, there is no strength developed for times of adversity. Some folks get that, some don’t.

All of us cannot work. Some of us have imperfect bodies and brains. After the second coming of Christ, all will be reborn for eternity. That’s when we get those wonderful, perfected bodies with NO PAIN 😊

Oh my gosh!!!!! I quit writing in order to listen to General Conference. I cried from beginning to end while listening to the talk of Elder Holland. When he was done, a HUMONGOUS weight was lifted from me. I am not a lone voice in the wilderness! He was prompted to talk about poverty and disability, among other things. Earlier there was a different talk that encouraged LDS folk to do more mingling and quit being so insular. I hate it when stuff seems obvious to me and I wonder why nobody else says something. Soooooooo grateful these things were mentioned today 😊

I totally believe this church is true, and I have been sure of that since a week before my baptism. I was baptized Ocober 1, 2005…the same weekend as General Conference.

I do, however, continually struggle with the quirks of the culture. Most of the time I am for sure on the outside looking in. People who grow up a certain way don’t tend to realize that they make others feel like us versus them. There are still plenty of things I wish would be explained to me!

After conference was a program called One on One. It talked about many things relevant to me. I learned I am part of the Inner City Project. There are special missionaries to help in wards like mine. I don’t understand how there’s enough money to help well to do people in their well to do wards, and not enough money in wards like mine. We live blocks from Temple Square and the huge church office buildings…and from the church developments like City Creek. It takes huge amounts of self control to not be bitter. Snicker….I am soooooooo NOT perfect, but I sure try to do what I can.

I am grateful for General Conference. I am not impressed with BYU TV! They led up to the conference with stupid sports stuff and ended with stupid “comedy” programming. I wanted inspiring, uplifting, educational things for today. At least KSL channel 5 had better TV before and after! Nope, I don’t understand lots of things…..

You can read it, see it or hear conference for yourself. Check out the talk by Elder Jeffrey R Holland when it becomes available.