I have a very dear friend, Edward "Eddie" Barbanell, who serves on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics International (SOI). He is also appointed as the Special Advisor to Tim Shriver, their CEO. I am honored to help Eddie with this great organization as we launch a brand new campaign called "The Dignity Revolution"!
The Dignity Revolution is an effort to increase awareness of people who may "appear" to be different. We want to help break down barriers and stereo types. Our motto is "Accept people for who they are, not what they are!"
Before volunteering at the Special Olympics World Winter Games here in Boise, Idaho; I had watched a movie called "The Ringer" several times with my kids. It is a funny movie in which Eddie stars as Johnny Knoxville's roommate. The movie teaches people to laugh with people, not at them! I didn't know at the time that Special Olympics actually endorsed the movie! The staff at SOI actual are the ones that introduced me to Eddie and it has been my priveldge to continue working with him and call him my friend. Even though has Downs Syndrome, he makes me think and do more soul searching than most of my peers. He sees things with such a simple truth, that it makes me wonder if maybe I am the one with the "Intelectual Disability".
It is amazing how far the human civilization has progressed in the past 200 years alone. In a single word, John Lennon said it perfectly: "Imagine". Imagine...
- the days when buying and selling "slaves" was common place in parts of the United States;
- women not having the right to vote;
- Rosa Parks not being allowed on the bus;
- Japanese internment camps in the United States;
- President Obama would sign "Rosa's Law" effectively replacing the word "retarded" with other terms like "intelectual disabilities";
- Leper colonies still exist in parts of the world;
We have indeed come a long way from our humble beginnings of our great country! Some people still have issues with our "immigration policy" however, if the "American Indian" didn't have such an open door policy, most of our familes would have ever showed up onto this continent to start with!
Since this is a true grass roots effort, it will be fun to watch it morph out of it's cocoon into some beautiful butterfly that spreads hopefully throughout the world. As a matter of fact, it might even be referenced in the Special Olympics PanAmerican Games in April of 2012.
Although the initial primary focus will be on Special Olympics, I feel it will grow well beyond. This concept is larger than just those with intelectual disabilities. It applies to race, religion, sexual preferances, age, and more. I look foward to going back to opening doors for women, to helping little old ladies across the street, and to hear children once again say "Please" and "Thank You".
Edmund Burke is credited with saying "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Other people credit that phrase to a derivative work of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace". It may not matter who should get the attribute, what does matter is what will you do? Will you stand up for those less fortunate? Will you stand up to the "bullies" in your (or your children's lives)?
Sometimes it feels like an issue is just too big to take on. In the true spirit of the quote above, what I, Jim Paulson, is doing to help is using my social media skills and my contacts to help spread the word about the new "Dignity Revolution". I hope you will take the time to check out the community page I created on it on Facebook. It can be found at www.Facebook.com/OurDignityRevolution
My next goal is to get Eddie to ask his friend, Johnny Knoxville to endorse this campaign. I already picture the poster "Don't be a Jack Ass - Join the Dignity Revolution"!