We’ll be live blogging from Milwaukee this week, the site of the LSA Annual Conference and associated events. LSA staff members will post throughout the week, providing highlights, links and resources.
Last night the LSA Disability Network conference, “One God, One Call,” kicked off with a dinner and keynote address by LSA President and CEO Jill Schumann.
Jill addressed the LSA-DN theme using three ideas:
We need one another and we’re in this call together
We need to learn about mutual care – especially on the receiving end
We need to include advocacy in the call
She spent time exploring the idea of mutual care. “I think about how hard each of us resists ‘being a burden,’ ‘needing someone else,’ ‘being dependent on another person for anything.’ We fight that so hard. What, then, are we saying about what it means to be the receiver of another’s assistance or efforts? That somehow it is a demeaning role? A role that is less valued? A role that subjects us to the whims of others and denies our selfhood? A role that robs us of our pride? Does it have to be that way? We really do need one another – whether it is for a jump when our car battery is dead or to be dressed and toileted when we are too frail to do that for ourselves,” she said.
She continued, “We see self-reliance as a virtue, but place no virtue on mutual reliance (as distinct from freeloading or inappropriate dependence). If we really are to cultivate a culture that takes mutual care seriously, and again, I remind you that no one can live a life without depending on others, then we need to be willing to elevate the role of care receiver and to learn to be gracious in that role ourselves. What would it take for that to happen? Would we have to deal with our finitude and our utter reliance on God? How can we practice that regularly? I’d love to see us have a serious conversation about this.
“God’s call is into community – a community of generosity, justice, inclusion and mutual care.”
Jill closed with encouragement: “So, let’s pledge to encourage one another; to learn about mutual care – especially how to be gracious receivers; and let’s keep speaking up and out. And, most of all, let’s remember that God is with us on this journey and when God calls us, God provides what we need to respond.”