I’m sure that everyone reading this has been involved in change efforts for our disability community at various times over years to decades. Like Sisyphus, we push the boulder up the hill and, if we are lucky, it only rolls back down part way.
There is value in viewing this dynamic of “3 steps forward, two steps back”, like crafts people viewed their work on building cathedrals in the middle ages. The cathedral started before they were born, and it continued to be built after they died. They were part of a multi-generational community working to create something permanent and beautiful.
On the other hand, our advocacy for change can and has had profound effects on the day to day lives of ourselves and the other members of our disability community.
We keep at it. We do this because of the bonds we have with the rest of our community, built on our own and others experiences of oppression, discrimination, and our own personal experiences of devaluing. We keep at it because it would be a betrayal not to.
But, we can do better. The systems we are trying to change are called complex adaptive systems, and every time we try to change them, they adjust. We also change when we try to change those advocacy targets.
Is it any wonder that we seem to circle around to the same issues in new guises?
One reason we lose steam in our ongoing change efforts has to do with the realities of running an advocacy organization or group. Trying to keep our eyes on the prize and also keeping the group running or the doors open is tougher on us than we know. That will be the topic for my next post.