Sunday, May 31, 2009


So I was watching TV this week when this ad came on. After it became apparent that it was for a charitable organization, I expected to see some variation of the usual "pity party" that is all too common amongst many charitable groups. You know, "Aren't we great that we are helping these poor, helpless people thing. Instead I saw this. This is not my congregation, but I invite you to watch an alternative way to depict serving others in society.

Wouldn't it be great if groups like Autism Speaks took such an approach?

Trinity Lutheran Church
Volunteers serving the homeless
First course: dignity

Read the story behind the ad.


Fleecy said...

"First course: Dignity" :)

I also get very tired of the "Aren't we great for helping these poor pitiful people" type things.

kathleen Leopold said...

wouldn't it be nice if treating all people with respect was ingrained in everyone..that was nice, thanks

Mrs. C said...

I love it. And I read the story behind it. The volunteer eats the same meal with the guests. They actually... *gasp* talk and fellowship together!

Makes me wanna cry.

lurker said...

I think "pity party" kind of things are necessary. Who is going to hand over their hard earned money to a charity where nothing unfortunate is acknowledged and things are portrayed all positive and perky?

Club 166 said...

So, lurker, it doesn't matter that "pity party" fund raising demeans the people that are purportedly being helped, as long as money is raised?

Doesn't everyone deserve to be respected and treated with dignity?


lurker said...

It doesn't demean anyone. What doesn't recognize anyone's dignity, is to pretend that the suffering central to an issue isn't happening, and to pretend that the unfortunate situation doesn't even bother those who are saddled with it.

Club 166 said...

It doesn't demean anyone.I would suggest many in the disability community would disagree with you.

For further reading I would suggest this article, or it that's too long for your tastes, then this one.

Words like "pity, suffering, and saddle" all buy into the same stereotype. We don't need that type of stereotyping in order to get assistance to people that have real needs.

We can respect people and assist them at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.

lurker said...

I don't think all ideas the disability community as a whole comes up with really apply to mental disability; certainly not to the types of disability that groups like Autism Speaks deal with. "Words like "pity, suffering, and saddle" all buy into the same stereotype" I think such a stereotype is necessary as it is basically true and undeniable. I think it is imperative to shine light on that stereotypical reality in order to motivate someone to solve the problem. If nobody is suffering or is about to suffer, how does anyone know assistance is even needed? I don't know what you consider respect. I wonder what assistance you think is satisfactory.

Club 166 said...

I think such a stereotype is necessary as it is basically true and undeniable.

Well, I guess that is the way you might feel. But do you honestly think that is the way that autistic individuals want to be treated?

Look at this posting by a mother who is both on the autism spectrum, as well as the mother of an autistic child for a different perspective.

You seem to be inferring that not painting as dismal a picture as possible means that appropriate assistance will not be advocated for or provided. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is another way. One can look at the Easter Seals campaign if one wants to see a large organization that serves people with various disabilities, and does its fund raising largely without resorting to the "pity" model.

As to what I consider respect, if we started by recognizing that all people (whatever their abilities) were equal under the law, had equal rights, and deserved to be treated with dignity (which would include not talking about killing them off while you're in the room with them), I think we could progress from there to a working definition.


lurker said...

Yes, I do. Your nonsense isn't doing a whole lot for the unfortunate autistics. I don't care what that cruel, non-impaired elite has to say. I don't think as much assistance will be made as easily available if onerous circumstances aren't mentioned. It's not like Easter Seals doesn't mention unfortunate circumstances to be remedied.

Club 166 said...

Now, now, lurker. I have tried to retain the elements of restrained, civil discourse. I think we can discuss things without calling each others opinion "nonsense".

I don't think Easter Seals is a perfect organization. But they're better than many.

Consider this question:

Is the proper role of those with disabilities to be a beggar on the street corner, or as a supported member of society?

Does begging in public, displaying the worst aspects of whatever disability they possess, give them the dignity that they deserve? Should society be run as a freakshow in a carnival?

I can't believe that anyone would agree with that. I know that the disabled in some third world countries are forced into such situations in order to get any monetary support. But shouldn't we, in more developed countries that are supposedly more "civilized", be beyond that?

Can you agree that in an ideal situation you would want assistance provided to those with disabilities without having to parade them (figuratively or literally) in public to try to "guilt" people into coughing up some spare coins?



lurker said...

Well, I don't know the best way to deal with it, but I don't think any way of getting to be "supported" comes without a lack of dignity. Even if begging and parading around aren't done with those with mental disabilities, how can't it be undignified to have to get services/supports from others?

Club 166 said...

I agree that, in practice, often there is a loss of dignity involved in the receiving of any kind of services. But I would suggest that that only means we have to work that much harder to eliminate such practices.

I think that most of the "loss of dignity" comes from ingrained attitudes in people, which makes this a likely slow fight to change things. But we changed attitudes towards womans' suffrage and slavery in this country (I'm not saying that everything is perfect, just significantly changed from the past), and I think we can change peoples' attitudes towards the disabled (all disabled) too.

Consider the different attitudes that people have towards those on Medicare vs. those on Medicaid.

{Apologies to those outside U.S. Medicare is the system of health care for all aged (and some disabled) Americans. It is somewhat supported from payroll taxes, but really is supported from the general federal tax rolls. Medicaid is a system of health care for the poor. It is supported by the federal and state tax rolls}.

Most Medicare users who are sick utilize far more resources than their individual monetary contributions ever amounted to when they were working. Yet society treats them with much more respect than they treat poor people, both when they are getting care, as well as when funding decisions are being made to fund the programs.

Just because attitudes are endemic within a society, doesn't mean we can't work to (perhaps slowly) change them. I don't think we should just give up, throw up our hands, and say "Oh well, the only thing that seems to work is raising money through focusing on the worst aspects of peoples lives."

The reason I highlighted this commercial was to support the idea that perhaps there is a better way. A better way of thinking, and working, to support people with disabilities.

Once we start to change attitudes towards those with disabilities, it can lead to other substantial changes. Instead of looking to just "wharehouse" people in institutions, society will look for ways to support people living in the community, in as independent a capacity as they are able to have. Rather than assuming that those who are developmentally disabled are unemployable (such assumptions having been reinforced through years of "pitiful" fund raising), they will work to find ways to design the workplace such that a far greater majority of the population are able to have meaningful, productive lives.


Sadderbutwisergirl said...

I think everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, however, I wouldn't really like it if Autism Speaks started doing something like this. What would be even better would be if Autism Speaks shut down entirely and their curebie ideas along with them.