January 19th is Martin Luther King Jr. day across the United States of America. Tomorrow, January 20th, 2009 the United States will inaugurate its first black president, Barack Obama, the son of Dr. King’s dream. In 1963 Dr. King said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream and my dream is that all people of PEI will be free and fairly included in PEI society whether they have a disability or not. My dream is Dr. King’s dream, it is the dream that God gives us. Dr. King quoted from the bible, since he was a preacher, that all men shall be free, equal and accepted in society, including the disabled.
“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Barack Obama is the dream come true for Blacks but he is not stopping there. He wants to remove barriers for the disabled and has said so. Watch his speech. President-elect Obama repeated that promise today that all Americans will be included in society including the disabled.
That is the American Dream but it is not the reality on PEI. We live in a bigoted society where the disabled are merely tolerated, given charity, discriminated against and abused. The President of our great university, UPEI, is allowed to take away the rights of the disabled to accessible parking and only a few voices speak out. There are many good people at UPEI but they are afraid of the tyrant and bigot who is their president. Today’s UPEI Diversity Day is an exercise in hypocrisy when our own children with disabilities are discriminated against.
The governments, both Conservative and Liberal, can deny health services to seniors who are disabled. The government can deny jobs, services, benefits anything it wants simply because it has bought off the disability organizations into silence. They are loyal to their annual grants and not the disabled.
The government can create a climate of fear and reprisal just like the one created by the President of UPEI to keep good people from speaking out. Decent hearted Americans too lived in a climate of fear and reprisal until the law and the government showed them the way to tolerance.
We are in many ways like America decades ago. We have a law, a constitution that guarantees equality but some parts of our society don’t want to grant those rights freely. Those people are disability bigots, no less reprehensible than racial bigots or sexual bigots. Bigotry is our enemy for it robs us all of our capacity for humanity and the greatest command from Christ – to love one another. It’s time for PEI to grow up and grant everyone