Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Of all Tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Lewis, 1952
I have always had a fondness of C.S. Lewis, but the other day I saw this quote and nearly fell over. I'm not sure who, if anyone in particular, Lewis was thinking of as he wrote this, but I find it to capture the tyranny within the disability service system to a T.
I was once guilty of doing things "for the good" of the people I supported, I see people daily who are doing things "for the good" of people they support, and work within a system that does a heck of a lot "for the good" of those we support. And it's true, acts of oppression are carried out with the "approval" of the systems and individual consciences. We make ourselves feel better daily by believing it is "for the good," meanwhile the people we support are often railing against the system and the hundreds of things done daily to them "for the good."
What's difficult is that the system is there for good reason, people working within the system do care and wish to make a difference. I don't know anyone in this field I could classify as "evil," yet in pursuit of "better" lives for those we support, we often ignore their voices and their own choice of what a "better" life is. The people we support are isolated, lonely, bored and have thousands of frustrated ambitions, yet we can sleep soundly at night because we're doing it all "for their good."
Finding this quote reminded me not to get too comfortable, it reminded me to always ask if what I'm doing is "for the good," it reminded me that I should not be powerful, but be an ally in the pursuit of the chosen lives of those we support. I ask the rest of you, please consider your daily actions...are you tyrannizing someone with your good intentions?