From Norman’s Desk – July 2018

Norman A. Smith, Associate Executive Director

Our nation celebrates its Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on July 4th.  We celebrate the idea that this nation wanted to be free from rules, regulations, and laws created without input from the Colonies. 

We also celebrate the concept that each person has equality in the eyes of the law.  Although many are still tramping upon this basic concept today, its promise has survived thanks to the sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears of many. 

As we celebrate Independence Day, we need to remember what we are celebrating and why.  We need to remember the sacrifices of those who have died for the concepts of independence, liberty, and freedom.  We must also remember that the fight is not over for people with disabilities, and, indeed, remember that the fight is only beginning for many of us. 

The promise has been slow in coming for people with disabilities, and for many of us, equality is still not here, is still a concept enjoyed by others, and is a promise that still needs to be kept.

The promise is a lofty one, yet for some people with disabilities the promise translates into more practical considerations: the freedom to make choices in their daily lives, to be responsible for their lives, and to be a contributing part of their community. 

Freedom and independence are grand sounding words, but for some they mean the right to do simple tasks. 

Freedom and independence are empty and hollow words when elected officials ignore our needs and discount our vote.

Expecting the promise of freedom to be kept without struggle and sacrifice is foolhardy.  Again, our history teaches that participatory governance over oneself or one’s country means stepping up to participate and sacrifice.  Individuals must take up the cause of freedom, work together, and battle for the promise to be kept.  This is true now for people with disabilities. 

So, while we celebrate what happened 242 years ago, let us remember for many of us with disabilities the struggle for freedom continues!    Join me on July 16 to “RevUp the vote by people with disabilities at our rally at the NJ State House.  Get more information by clicking Here