My Photo
Name:
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Monday, March 06, 2006

 

Inspiration from President Clinton

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished,
And proud men in old age learn to be wise.

--Sophocles (Antigone, closing lines)


I went to see former President Bill Clinton speak at the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies event last night. Clinton's long fingers typically rolled into that gestural fist with the thumb pointing out instead of his index finger to make a point. He is softer now, perhaps weakened by his surgery, a Dalai Lama of politics, if there can ever be one -- I think of Ghandi when I write this. He is soft and gracious when he speaks, his head often down thinking of every word. He is the epitome of a life-well-lived in my view -- of mistakes, of experience, of knowledge and smarts, boiling down to his essence...gracious and wise. I think he is a brilliant man.

You can see I had front row seats (ha!). In fact, the event was sold out and we got these seats at the last moment:


Here is my not so great photo of Clinton. Posted by Picasa

I couldn't have cared less. Just being in the same room with him was a thrilling honour. President Clinton spoke about how interconnected our world is becoming, but in that interconnectedness, we have more discord than ever before. Perhaps we get too close to one another, in all our differences, and then we have to deal with it instead of building the walls that formerly kept us apart. This is the price of interconnectedness: from Palestine's new government Hamas to Israel's front door, from people with varied religions living together, to neurodiverse and disabled people living with abled ones, we've got difference smack dab in our face. We live in an incredibly priviledged economy and we have to deal with and be responsible to those living on less than two dollars a day. We have to be cognizant of what we are doing to our environment and become more responsible about that. In a priviledged society, we ought to think less of ourselves and what we can do for others.


This one is for Camille who wanted to see my suit. Posted by Picasa

There is no difference in my mind between these issues and those of human rights for the disabled. Across the board, there is predjudice and fanaticism that endangers all of us. He noted that those areas that support America today are Ache Province where the Tsunami hit, and Gujarat, India where the earthquake struck because Canadians, Americans helped people -- "people helping people," as he put it. Once we cross bridges and meet each other, it is always incredible how we are alike. Respecting differences -- from race, religion, culture, and ability can only enrich us all. Building walls can only lead to fear and hate.

If we truly live in a democratic society, then we have to continue to speak out against organizations that are seeking to do that which is against the wishes of the autistic community. We have to keep talking and talking, and wait for the gap when someone might just be listening -- or else we will never be heard. This is the inspiration I glean from a great President.

10 Comments:

Blogger Do'C said...

Smashing suit Estee!

If we truly live in a democratic society, then we have to continue to speak out against organizations that are seeking to do that which is against the wishes of the autistic community.

This could present to be a huge challenge. We don't live in a democratic society. We live in a society where elected representatives are not truly elected by the people (a republic), and those with legislative influence are themselves participants in special interest: religion, financial, etc.

I agree with you whole-heartedly about continuing to speak out, and I don't plan to stop. I'd like to see fundamental change that is not based on so-called religious morals - humanity first.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Well put...Humanity First!

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America seems to be living with the idea of exceptionalism and changing the world. Our survival will depend on an evolving intellect that is interconnected with the concept of humanity. Autism is part of this change.

Scorpio

12:49 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Dad of Cameron,
We must continue to aspire by the ideals of a democatic society.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

While I disagree with the politics involved (I've found conservatives to be much more accepting and welcoming towards my children than liberals outside the special needs community) this is spot on:

"Respecting differences -- from race, religion, culture, and ability can only enrich us all."

To me, it seems now is the time to push acceptance for our children, and all children. So many people are expressing willingness to accept at least one kind of difference, which should make it easier for a wider variety of differences to gain acceptance. If a person can accept a child with a different skin color or religion or developmental pattern, then they can learn to accept the other differences mentioned and more besides. It is my hope that we can take the level of acceptance my sons have experienced from their peers, and share that with their parents and neighbors, and make this world a better place for everyone.

1:42 PM  
Blogger abfh said...

"From those to whom much has been given, much is expected."

And yes, that means we have a moral responsibility to seek to understand others, to respect differences, and to advocate for justice in the world.

The Internet, by its nature of breaking down walls and allowing people to see many different viewpoints, can be a very powerful tool for social justice.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Camille said...

Thank you, Estee. I appreciate the discussion of humanity and ethics.

I appreciate you sharing the photo of yourself in the suit. I spent a good 15 minutes looking for suits by the designer you mentioned (I forgot it already). It was fun. I found lots of pretty creamy colored dresses and a few suits. I like your shoes, too. Nice piano.

I'm glad you had an enjoyable and ethically enriching evening. Thanks for sharing the experience.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

I'm not too thrilled with Clinton's certain "escapades", but I have always felt that there was something unique and great about him. What a wonderful experience you had. Thanks for sharing it with us.
I couldn't get your picture of your suit to come up.


Kristin

8:00 PM  
Anonymous kyra said...

such a stylish suit, estee! and you look postively smashing in it! i am SO JEALOUS that you got to see and hear clinton. i love that man. yes, brilliant, genius. he is that. and wise and human and powerful. it was nice to admire the president while it lasted. ahem. thanks for stopping by the blog. i will be back once my battery gets recharged! xx to you

2:25 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

BTW:

I didn't intend to offend anyone regarding the "crusty Asian woman" comment. I could have said German, Yiddish, Italian, or worse, brash American, pokey Canadian, stuffy British..ah the stereotypes indeed. Sorry, just wanted you to have a picture of her. In and of itself, "Asian" is not racist, but rather descriptive in my view. I don't intend to use race as a negative factor. The person was not pleasant, Asian or not. That was my point. No racist intention here.

Ah, indeed the problems of identifying, labelling...let the dialogue continue and thanks for feedback.

Estee

2:40 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home