Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tyranny

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?

11 comments:

rickismom said...

Anyway, as a mom I wonder about this a lot, as there are areas where, Ricki not yet being adult, I feel that I can still draw the "line in the sand" for her. (No, you can NOT eat 6 slices of bread....)(No, it is 11:30 PM and there is school tomarrow, so you MUST go to sleep!). But someday, at some point, I will have to back off , and I'm not sure I will be so happy to do it.....

I would be very interested in other people's opinions on this.

Stephanie said...

Wow Fab, this was a GREAT post!! I have had this conversation with my girlfriend about her daughter's care. Have wondered this about our welfare system, churches, etc... this applies in so many facets of daily life, even in our own homes! I hope this post makes it way around so that we all can reflect on our own actions and really THINK! I would like to share it on my own blog if you don't mind...

Thank you again for reminding me to look at the big picture and to LISTEN!

therextras said...

Very effective for prompting some thoughtful time. Thank you, Barbara

FAB said...

Well, I had written a response and it somehow got lost in the blogosphere.

Stephanie, absolutely that's fine! I am so glad that these words have had such a strong impact. All of your thoughtful comments are much appreciated!

Rickismom, we mothers all do this to our kids to some extent, it's part of our job and I don't think it's tyranny (although tell my son that when he's grounded!) And as our children age, we are still invested in thier best interest. My mom still does it to me, and I know it comes from a place of love even though I tell her she's nagging. The difference is that I can still make my own choices, and I would guess that as Ricki becomes a woman, you may still offer guidance, but she will have the free will to be able to ignore your advice, even if it results in an "I told you so" at the end of the day. At some point we have to make mistakes so we can learn from them. I've read your wise and caring words, and I can't imagine a day when Ricki could perceive your love as tyranny...she also sounds pretty independant (I'm sure at least partly because you have raised her that way) so she'll be able to stand up and disagree with you when it's really important. While your heart might break a little, I am certain that you'll let go enough to watch her fly!

Anonymous said...

My dear friend, I learn through what you post and I to have done these same actions for the good of the people...now that I know better I can and will do better! PS I torture you every day and sleep well each night! (LOL)

FAB said...

Anonymous, my dear friend, I'll take your brand of "torture" any day! Love you!

Anonymous said...

Love you 2 my dear

Terri said...

Excellent quote. Food for thought--for parents, for folks who work in 'systems', for politicians!

rickismom said...

fab, you must be busy with your 2 jobs!!!! Hope all is well by you!

FAB said...

Hi! I have been busy, but mostly trying to relax and enjoy my family when I have the chance, so it's meant less computer time. I do plan on adding something new later, as some of my dear friends have requested something new. All is very well here, and I hop all is well for you also-I took a peak at Beneath the Wings yesterday, and it looks like you've really been enjoying your family!

rickismom said...

Miss Your posts!