Tiffany, there is a better lesson that these parents could have taught…

Some wealthy Manhattan moms have figured out a way to cut the long lines at Disney World — by hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they and their kids can jump to the front, The Post has learned. NY Post…. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/disney_world_srich_kid_outrage_zTBA0xrvZRkIVc1zItXGDP

 

Dear Tiff,

          I have watched your family for a very long time(shall I count the years:-), and I believe that one of the reasons you and your sister have done so well is because your mother and father cared about young people  beyond the two of you. I am also now watching the awesome talent and brilliance of the next generation of children; and I am convinced it is in part because you gave, and give so much of yourself to the positive development of the children of others. I truly believe that we can bless our children with our good deeds toward the children of others; and this blessing can extend to a time long after we have left this earthly existence.

         You know Tiffany there is a terrible myth that I have consistently seen over the last 30 years in public life and public  education. That myth says: I can advance and enhance the life opportunities  for my children at the expense of other people, and other people’s children. That: “I can successfully steal money from other people’s children to give to my children; deny the children of others and my children will prosper”. There is a present parade of elected official who have sought  “self-family service,” over public service. We seem to be in a national “anti-empathy” movement that has allowed many to disconnect from the suffering of others; to not see our children in the eyes of all children. To think that only our children have hopes and dreams, and others don’t. Witness the recent  case of a factory collapsing upon workers in Bangladesh; the cruel treatment and often death of young “workers” forced to labor for horribly low wages in buildings that compromise their health and safety on a daily basis; all of this occurring while they have no health insurance. We feel that if the “wretchedly cursed” are far away from our nation, our community, our block and our house, that our children are safe. This myth explodes when on a day you would think that young men would be celebrating and praising the person who literally labored to bring them into this world; are instead shooting thoughtlessly into a crowed of a Mother’s day parade celebrants.  Children who are neglected, abused, unloved, uneducated, unemployed and unemployable; see the “happy world” as an enemy to be disrupted and destroyed. We deluded ourselves into believing that if we just pretend that these who have been left outside of a meaningful life don’t exist; or if they do, their role is to serve and produce joy for our children.  The truth is that there is no separate place of peace in this world. There is no way to escape being touched by those caught in the cycle of feeling pain, and then inflicting harm on their fellow human beings. The problem is seeing and connecting the spiritual dots. Whenever I read about young men or women like those who participated in the recent Mother’s day parade tragedy; I try to find out the young person’s school experience; did they have the opportunity to be positively engaged in some type of creative activity, sports, art, music some type of activity that allowed them to see their  own humanity, and the ability to recognize the humanity of others. If their life lesson is: “it makes no difference who I hit in a Mother’s day parade”; then we are in serious trouble, a type of trouble that “jumping” our own children to the front of the line won’t solve.  As a superintendent in Albany I once spoke to a group of citizens in one of the more affluent sections of the city. I was trying to explain the need to direct greater resources to struggling schools and students. I said to them that the harm of  the so-called “achievement gap” that was intellectually and emotionally hurting the majority of Black and Latino students in the city, was also hurting their children, but in a more veiled way. Many affluent parents are living in a false reality of “high academic achievement”, because  the expectations and academic achievement of the majority of students of color is so artificially low. By maintaining a system of institutional underachievement in the “poor” schools, their school only need say: “Well we are doing a good job, when you compare us to the struggling low academic performance of children in school X on the other side of town”. The truth was that their school was living off of this falsehood, and in reality their children were terribly unchallenged, and the school was in fact chronically underperforming. There is a terrible failure to see our human connectedness. It is a misconception that God is not concerned about how we treat each other. The problem of “leasing” the physically challenged as a way to bring happiness to their own children is probably lost on these parents. But I am sure it was not lost on the physically challenged, who are being “rented”. They have been concretely and symbolically used to push the “offspring of greed and inheritance” to the front of the line, while they find their place at the back of the line of life. I believe that every person regardless of the conditions and circumstances of their birth is here to contribute something of value to all of us.  And when we see these gross acts of dismissal, the public and private acts of violence; we are in fact seeing the symptoms of people who feel they have lost their sense of contribution, and can now only find meaning and purpose by inflicting pain on others. The devaluing of human life as they themselves feel that they are devalued; they are very much creating a world in their own likeness. Unfortunately,  this twisted worldview makes no distinction in what and who it harms. Why not find meaningful  and dignified work for those who face physical challenges; work that can allow them to realize and express their full humanity. This would be much better than to use their disability as a tool of deception and subterfuge. Perhaps the children of the rich can learn something important in life; to indeed be inspired by seeing the physically challenged of this nation engaged in meaningful and productive work. But I also think that these, the children of unearned advantage and privilege can learn some important life lesson; a basic learning objective from Kindergarten; by being forced, like everyone else, to just wait in line, for their turn.