Writing the Book
Writing the Book
I spent a few long days last week with some people who have experienced some pretty hard times, and seem to be still bearing a lot at the hands of society, and even, it seems, are more than a bit at the mercy of human services. It is hard to imagine how someone with the means and heart to help lift someone out of the “mental health client” role will arrive in someone’s life, given the amount of distance between the lives of people at the bottom of our social ladder and the lives of most other people. The people I met are all but invisible.
Part of my own process of reconciling my own responsibility in this is to remember the “levels of action” proposed within the Social Role Valorization – In short, this includes the idea that there are a number of levels on which we can respond to the problems that marginalized people face in society. We all would do well to engage in a process of discernment – where do our talents, gifts, and interests lie? In the realm of making change on the societal level? In the area of working with local communities and service systems to make a more responsive system? Walking with individual families and vulnerable people?
I don’t often have a clear idea about the answer to this for myself, but having a framework to keep thinking it all through helps me stay both clearer and truer. Whatever I choose to do – teach, write, identify with a person, keep and share someone’s story and history, bear witness, discover truths about someone, walk with someone through hardship – it all becomes immeasurably more important when we recall the title of a song – Elvis Costello, I think – ”Every Day I Write the Book”. This raises the responsibilities for us all, to think, to base our actions and responses on a coherent set of ideas, and to realize that others are watching and learning from us. We should be mindful of the nature of the book we are writing.