From the Editor
It's OK to Make Waves
There’s a song by Bruce Hornsby and The Range called The Way It Is. Every time I hear it I realize how relevant it is for today even thought the song was written in 1986, over 30 years ago.
The opening verse recounts a story taking place at a line for welfare that illustrates a divide between the rich and poor. The chorus presents several lines insisting that social ills are “just the way it is”, and repeatedly suggests resigning oneself to them as a fact of life—however, the chorus also ends with the author rebuking this attitude by insisting “but don’t you believe them.”
The second verse recounts past social issues from the voice of someone supporting racial segregation. The author responds in a narrative voice, insisting his view that if those who make laws took them into careful consideration they would be convinced that laws enforcing principles like racial segregation are morally wrong. The song goes on to remind the listener that it was at one time argued that racial segregation was “just the way it is”, and suggests that legislation and what the author views as progress on current social issues should be pursued without regard to those who insist “some things will never change.”
The third verse recounts the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a victory in the civil rights movement, but insists that more is needed. In particular, the verse highlights individual prejudice and employment discrimination as an enduring form of racism. The third chorus reminds us that it only feels like “some things will never change” when we wait for social problems to change themselves rather than taking steps ourselves to actively change them.
And that’s what I take to heart every time I hear the song. Just prior to the past election I heard someone comment about the frustration they have with their political party. They actually said “That’s just the way it is” as if there was no way to change it.
I can’t agree with that. If that were a consistent thought throughout America’s history – nothing would have changed. It’s only when we stand up and say “Maybe that’s how it is, but it’s not right and now we need to change it.”
I also see people with disabilities frustrated with inaccessible business entrances, difficulty getting a job and other day-to-day experiences despite the fact that the ADA has been in effect for over 27 years. I want them to remember not to accept “That’s just the way it is” and instead advocate for change. Yes, that means making waves, and it is that ripple effect that will create systems change. It means being seen as that “noisy person with a disability” in order to sustain that change. I urge everyone not to blend into the background and instead “stand up” for yourself to create change.
That’s just the way it is – But don’t you believe it!