Tags: Elizabeth Chang, Ellen McCarthy, mental disability, mental handicap, mentally disabled, mentally handicapped
The relevance of the picture will be explained later.
Ellen McCarthy and Elizabeth Chen recently published an article in the Washington Post Magazine about a young couple, Bill Ott and Shelley Belgard. Both have mental handicaps. The article, in honor of Valentine’s Day, traces the crisscrossing paths that finally merged, resulting in their becoming a couple.
The article is eye opening, and heart warming. I recommend that you take a look at it. Any summary here would be much less effective than the article itself.
Go ahead. I’ll wait for you to read it, and then return to this post.
Now, assuming that you have read the article, I wish to make only two brief observations.
Many of Bill’s statements are poetic. They are remarkably evocative. They are concise, and make their points perfectly. Anyone would be proud to have said them.
Shelley shows a degree of self-understanding that many would envy.
Despite their mental handicaps, Bill and Shelley are quite impressive, and quite likable.
The relevance of the picture is that it shows stars being born.
(To be precise, it is a color-coded image in infrared light, in which brightnesses at wavelengths that are invisible to the eye are portrayed by brightnesses at wavelengths that are visible to the eye. Each glowing ball is not a new star. It is a ball of dust around a new star. The dust is warmed by ultraviolet and visible radiation from the new star, causing the dust to emit infrared radiation. You might enjoy the caption on the original image.)
Tags: children, debt, deficit, employable, Fairness, homeless, humanitarian, infrastructure, jobless, parents, Petula Dvorak, unemployable, Zachary Karabell
Petula Dvorak’s recent article in the Washington Post vividly draws attention to the cruel injustice to homeless families – and in particular, to the children in those families – that results from the present policies in Washington, DC toward homeless families. The article is likely to apply to many cities.
Dvorak’s moving account nicely complements a post (Homeless Children at School) in this blog.
I won’t repeat here what is in the article or in the blog post, but I recommend that you look at both, if you care about what kind of world you live in, and about what kinds of people will be living in your world in the near and medium-term future.
Instead I’d like to draw your attention to something that at first has no relation to the topic, but is actually very relevant.
Zachary Karabell recently published an article that takes a fresh look at the deficit – which is topic A these days – and arrives at startling but convincing conclusions.
Zachary Karabell points out that deficits are debt, and, depending on what it is used for, debt can be either a prudent investment, with future payoffs, or can be spendthrift and dangerous. He points out that the present discussion on the deficit incorrectly assumes that all debt is bad. Historically, that is not true. If well used, debt can bring us future prosperity that would be unattainable otherwise. Historically, deficits have often been prudent and beneficial. They can temper recessions, avert depressions, and provide infrastructure that is essential for future growth.
This brings us back to the topic of homeless parents, job seekers, and children. For the moment, consider only homeless people who are either looking for work, or who will be looking for work when they grow up. For the moment we are not considering those who are homeless because they cannot work now nor in the future, for reasons of physical or mental ill health. We will consider them at the end of this post.
Both Petula Dvorak’s article and the blog post cited earlier point out the penny-wise and pound-foolish nature of the present policy. Zachary Karabell’s findings greatly sharpen that point. Providing resources that provide a stable, non-chaotic, respectful environment for homeless people who seek jobs, or will grow up to seek jobs, or who are raising children who will grow up to seek jobs
– will provide means for them to get off the dole, which they ardently seek to do
– will lead to more taxpayers in the future
– will reduce the number of the unemployable and the number of criminals in the future
That is, public expenditures of this type are an investment – an investment in the employability and character of people who will be part of our city in the future. Think of it as an investment in infrastructure. People are the most important infrastructure.
Now about those who are homeless because they cannot work now nor in the future, for reasons of physical or mental ill health. Our policies to them are a more purely humanitarian issue. What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of world do we want, insofar as we can influence it?
Tags: blaming the victim, Frontline, gang rape, gender bias, Habiba Nosheen, Hilke Schellmann, human rights, Kainat Soomro, Outlawed in Pakistan, Pakistan, PBS, rape, village elders
When a 13 year old girl was gang raped in a village in Pakistan, she filed charges against her attackers. That violated tribal tradition. The village elders sentenced her to death for bringing disgrace to the village.
(I learned all this from a fine article by Michele Langevine Leiby in the Washington Post.)
The village elders need to understand that it is they, the elders, who disgraced their village. They did so in three ways:
– they failed to punish the rapists
– they failed to comfort and heal the innocent victim
– by those two errors, they failed to protect the village’s children.
The girl is Kainat Soomro. She is still alive, protected by the police, and she is still seeking justice.
Michele Langevine Leiby’s article notes that Soomro’s story, and that of her rapists, is the subject of a documentary film, Outlawed in Pakistan, by Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann, and that an expanded version of the film will be shown on TV this spring, in PBS’ Frontline series.