By Jo Ann Simons, Ruderman Family Foundation Disabilities Advisor and CEO Cardinal Cushing Centers
I recently attended a breakfast where Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts was the speaker. He shared with us that he had been to Iraq many times in the past few years and on this occasion was meeting with various government ministers. At one point, one of the ministers said to him, “Excuse me, Congressman. I feel betrayed by the United States government. You never told us how hard democracy is.”
While the Iraqi people are learning how hard democracy is, we are willing to invest our money and the lives of our sons and daughter into a cause which we believe is just and right. It is also absolutely necessary for our civilization to progress.
I would like to suggest that the same can be said for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. While the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate against persons with disabilities, discrimination exists every time a person with a disability in excluded from loving, learning, working or playing.
Democracy-loving people, wherever it the world they live, should be demanding a society where every member is valued and has equal access to its opportunities. Inclusion is hard work but lives do not have to be sacrificed to create a just world.
Our civilization depends on it.
— Jo Ann Simons