Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Wizards and a More Colorful Kansas
In "The Wizard of Oz", Dorothy is transported to a strange place, where every thing is the same, but different. This place is exciting and colorful, but also somewhat scary to her. She wants to get back home (to normalcy-represented by a dreary black and white Kansas) but doesn't know how to get there. In her quest to get back home, she is directed to a wizard, who doesn't initially think she has any way of getting back to Kansas, but he doesn't want to disappoint her.
The wizard puts on a big pyrotechnics display to show how great he is, gets angry at Dorothy when she questions him at all, and promises her if she just does X (get the wicked witch's broom) then Y (getting to go back to normalcy) will happen. Wanting desperately to go home, Dorothy does as the wizard says.
While it's not a perfect analogy, I often think of autism in terms of this movie. When parents first find out that there kid is "different", they don't stop to look at all the wonderful ways that that difference can be good. They don't look at all the ways that their child is essentially the same as all other kids, just different. And so they focus on a quest to "get back to normalcy". In doing so they are guided by a lot of wizards who give false hope to them. These wizards may or may not believe in their false magic, but promise parents that if "they only do X" then they will get back to their precious normalcy.
When the magic doesn't work, they are scorned if they question the wizard. If they do get back to some sense of normalcy, then the magic was obviously responsible.
But once in a while a good witch comes along. One who can show you that you had the capacity to "go back home" all along. All you had to do was look inside yourself to find the person you were, and look at your child and see the person they are. The good witch helps you to see that Kansas doesn't necessarily have to be a dreary black and white place. Kansas can be colorful. There's room in Kansas for all types of people, and if you had looked hard before, you would have seen some of them.
Kevin Leitch is one of those people that have helped to show me that Kansas can be a colorful place, and that we are all the better for it. He has provided a place for all types of people to congregate, and has helped to show that acceptance and inclusion are the keys to a better society for all of us. And I will always be grateful to him for what he has done.
And all the flying monkeys in the world can't change my mind.