I don’t think we, as a nation of educated people, as a country of incredible resources, as a culture, as the ostensible leader of the so-called free world, are very good at fixing problems. Many problems we had when I was a young woman are still around. Some have gotten worse.
We think we’ve made progress because we talk about our problems. Families get support in the community to raise their kids with autism, instead of quietly sending them away to an institution. Women get breast exams and mammograms instead of being embarrassed to discuss concerns with their doctor. People recycle their bottles and cans instead of sending them to the landfill.
We’re being green. We’re wearing pink. We’re lighting it up blue.We’re aware.
Good things all, but they don’t have anything to do with preventing some serious and growing problems.
The occasional greenwashing we get from some environmental groups keeps us from solving problems. The Sierra Club promoted natural gas until they were against it. Can you imagine where we would be now if they, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund had been more worried about an ounce of prevention from renewables than that compromise for a pound of coal-powered cure?
Then there’s the Komen problem. Many have been trying to cast a brighter light on that group’s pinkwashing for a long time. All these promotional tie-ins and three-days and commercials and messages have actually confused some people into thinking that finding breast cancer early is the same as preventing it.
Uh, no. It’s time to pay for prevention. My mother had breast cancer. Let’s see what we can do to prevent my daughter from getting it.
What of this burgeoning world of autism research and advocacy? When Sam was diagnosed, we were told that he was one in 10,000 or more. Autism was rare. I didn’t know anyone else whose child had autism. Now we’re at 1 in 88. It takes more than two hands to count all the kids with autism that grew up here in the past 15-20 years in Argyle, a town of 3,000.
Aren’t you afraid? You should be afraid. I am. You should be very afraid. Your-stomach-up-in-your-chest afraid.
People who want to help are trying. (And if you know what the day-in-the-life for families of kids with autism is like, finding time for that is its own kind of miracle.) They are raising money and advocating for more research.
When I visited the Autism Speaks website to look at the latest in research, I got kicked to pop-up page, insisting that I sign a petition about insurance before letting me land on the web page I sought.
I get that. Parents need help paying for treatment. But it was in-your-face. It was slick. It was just a little too Komen for me.
I hope it’s just because they have some really good people working for them. I hope they don’t get lost. I hope we aren’t in for a generation of blue-washing.
No amount of blue light bulbs you buy at Lowe’s is going to light this darkness.
We need prevention, and we need it now.