Newsletter – December, 2001

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 3, No. 12 December 2001

The end of the year is often a time to look at the past, present, and future with a renewed and more overarching perspective. 2001 has been a memorable year for many people. What have we learned as we go into 2002? I’ll share some thoughts.

Reflecting on the events of the past year, I’ve been reminded of a number of important principles to guide me in the year ahead. Here are a few.

1. Appreciate and enjoy loved ones.

When tragedies hit closer to home, it reminds us that there is so much about life that is uncertain and not under our control. Even in our daily routine of trying to make a difference in the lives of persons with special needs, we often bump up against very real limitations on what we can do. So all of this is a reminder that the first and most basic thing we can do is to show love and caring to those who mean the most to us. I hope to do that more in 2002.

2. Work is important.

As someone who has struggled for a number of years now to find the right niche in the work world, I know how much work affects self-esteem. How much more is this the case for someone who does not have the options that I enjoy!

In the present circumstances, amidst less than ideal economic conditions, I am learning to be thankful for the work I have been given. I am trying to learn the balance between contentment and striving. On the one hand, I am thankful for what I have even if sometimes I don’t feel like it’s the perfect job for me. On the other hand, perhaps my uneasiness can be the energy that drives me to be creative and do something new to make the world a better place.

3. Focus on those who are vulnerable.

Persons with special needs continue to be among the most vulnerable in hard times. This fact hit our family again this past week as our son with special needs was among those laid off of work in order for his employer to meet the changing demands of the marketplace. It was hard enough to find this job in good economic times. What is it going to be like to find something for him right now?

But this is the tip of the iceberg, I fear. In hard economic times, it will always be those with more skills, more flexibility, and more ability to do a variety of tasks that will keep their jobs or be able to adapt to new ones. Without a commitment from key people to employ persons who need more time and energy to adapt to the work, it is not likely to happen.

4. Be willing to think creatively.

The world is already seeing the perilous results of the same old solutions based on brute power. The “war on terrorism” is already having far-reaching and perilous results. Bin laden may yet get his way if the Indian-Pakistani conflict erupts into an all-out Middle Eastern uprising. The U.S.-British “victory” looks pretty shallow if it simply leads to the whole world living in fear of a nuclear world war. And all because we cannot think any more creatively than using military power.

So I must remind myself that “victories” for persons with special needs will not come by the standard solutions of pressure and power. Those of us who care must create the models and the means that inspire others to act. We have seen this kind of compassion and creative energy in response to the victims of September 11, 2001. Now we must put our energies into creatively addressing the long-term needs and suffering of those on the margins of our society.

That is what I hope I can do in 2002.

I wish you wholeness and peace in 2002 as you continue to build community in the places where you live and work. Blessings in the new year!

Paul D. Leichty

The Goldenrod Community

Middlebury, Indiana

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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