I woke up to the outrage that comes with inequity when my youngest son was born with Down syndrome almost two decades ago. I’ve always been a left-leaning softy, but I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t truly experience anger related to injustice until someone I loved was oppressed.
My outrage started with how my baby boy’s Down syndrome diagnosis was poorly disclosed by his doctor and then when another mom asked me: Why didn’t you get prenatal testing? when he was just a few weeks old.
My anger surprised and scared me. I vowed I didn't want to become a mean and bitter mom or grow hard to the world. I've mostly been able to keep that promise.
My job for the past 19 years has been to seek out joy to temper my rage at the unjust world that Aaron lives in. I first thought that I needed to balance anger and joy, but the pandemic has changed my thinking. Constantly being reminded that we are living in a place that continuously devalues my beloved son has opened me up to a fresh new rage.
I now know that I have to figure out how to live with both anger and joy at the same time. It is not a balance. It is not either or. I could not wait to not feel angry to look for joy because I am angry all the time. I also refuse to close myself off to hard emotions like fear and anger all in the name of being polite or artificially happy. (This fake niceness is often demanded of women).
People will be uncomfortable with your anger. Resist. As the saying goes, if you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention. The revolution was not built on pleasantries. But when I’m feeling overwhelmed and drowning in outrage, I pause, as my favourite meditation says, to look at the sky.
Then I keep going. Anger and joy are allowed to dance together. It has taken me a long time and lots of therapy to realize this: Feeling all the emotions is what makes us fully alive.
Become part of the groundswell.
You can buy a copy of my second book Ducks in a Row: Health Care Reimagined here.
It is a book of encouragement for those who reject the status quo and who pine for change in health care. Packed with ideas, and importantly, practical ways to overcome barriers so we can imagine a new health care world.