Last week, Dr. Charles Krauthammer passed away. For those of you who don't know the name, he was a Harvard-educated psychiatrist-turned-writer and commentator. His opinions on public policy and politics were read in hundreds of newspapers around the world and heard on cable news programs daily. While watching one particular tribute, a video clip was shown of Dr. Krauthammer saying, "You're betraying your whole life if you don't say what you think and you don't say it honestly and bluntly." That stuck with me.
ACHIEVA is known as a leader in the disability field - an innovative service provider and proud chapter in The Arc movement. Foundational to ACHIEVA's existence is its advocacy for people with disabilities and their families. As advocates, we are expected to say what we think, but how many of us really do? Or, how many of us will speak up but then carefully craft our words, leaving out things we're afraid to say? As advocates, we must speak up - we have to say what we think, even when it's unpopular or risky to do so. That's leadership - doing and saying things that are right even when it's hard.
Dr. Krauthammer had a disability, but he wasn't known for that. Rather, he was recognized for his intellect and mannerly style of debate (and his love for dogs, by the way). While he grew up a "liberal" and later became a "conservative", google his name and you won't see a lot about ideological leanings. Instead, you'll come to learn how respected he was by nearly everyone who knew him - including those on both sides of the political aisle - because, as one observer put it, "he could disagree with you without being disagreeable."
As advocates for people with disabilities and their families, we should remember Dr. Krauthammer's words, as well as his approach to debating the issues. With any luck, we might just persuade someone. Even if we don't, we'll probably be invited back.
As always, please feel free to send constructive comments and questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.