I guess I was in a long piece mood ... launching into the NYTimes with an unbridled abandon I haven't really allowed myself since I started graduate school while I was visiting friends in Oakland. You might ask yourself why I was reading articles online while visiting ... it's just a safe space where I can do all sorts of things. Here are two gems that are both utterly heartbreaking, but in their own ways also beautiful. Enjoy.
This is a heartbreaking story about thirty years of abuse for mentally disabled folks. It is important because, as the reporter points out, many had not heard of this story even though it has been out and in the courts since 2009. It also fills in a gap in our understanding about the minimum wage debate. I hope that it makes more than a few folks consider that all of our citizens deserve the rights promised by our legal documents, that our taxes should go to finding better solutions, and that we need to continue supporting and investing in better collaborations between public/private institutions. One of the things this story debunks is that mentally disabled folks are incapable of competing in the labor force.
In this piece, an obviously loving father details his autistic son's climb out of the seemingly dark whole that autism appears to be from the outside. It is a long piece, but worth every second you will give to it. Perhaps if you are not close to someone on the spectrum you may not appreciate all of what is contained here ... but you might find the tenacity of this family and the love compelling anyway. I have been thinking about picking up books to read about what it is like to be inside for these folks -- to understand better what I can do to relate instead of hoping that they will learn how to relate to us. But I haven't had the time ... so maybe there are many others who take you inside the way this father/writer did. For me, it was a revelation to see inside. It is also an interesting story for all those folks who hate Disney and see it as an evil empire bent on destroying the minds of young children with one princess after another. Turns out that my mother was right, again. It is what you make out of something, not the thing itself.