ON FORGIVENESS

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK

This video clip has been haunting me. 


Stephanie Woodward, a disabled woman protesting Trumpcare, is literally ripped from her wheelchair while being arrested. My immediate response is a tightening in my throat as I watch the footage from the comfort of my bed. Everything that created this one instance is wrong and I am struggling to understand how this can be okay. Simply put, it is not okay. Just because it is happening, does not make it okay. Sometimes I have to say this aloud to myself so that I don’t forget. Disabled peoples, whose lives are being placed on the line by a proposed $800 billion dollar cut to Medicaid, should not be arrested for stating their right to stay alive. As Woodward writes, “I mean to live in freedom. Because the liberty of so many Americans with disabilities is at stake, we laid our bodies on the line last week. We chanted loudly as we were taken away from the office and into police custody.” 


The Prayer:
I went and sat out in my garden after watching this clip. My baby greens have bolted and I harvested the last bits from a plant before pulling it out of the ground. I outlined a circle in the earth, where the roots of the plant had once been. I wanted to ‘plant’ this prayer in my garden bed. I had carried from the house a bowl of purple flowers that I had dried a few months ago. My original inclination was to make something with all of them, but once outside I only felt like using a few flowers and nothing else. Nothing so big wanted to be created, because within me I felt small. This actual piece itself only took about two minutes to put into place, but once done I sat with it for quite some time. I lay my hands down alongside the edges of the circle I had traced and closed my eyes. I realized that as much as this was about those directly impacted by Medicaid cuts this was also prayer of forgiveness. I thought about what it would feel like to be one of those policemen pulling disabled people from their wheelchairs, and my heart broke for them as well. As Woodward had put it in an interview with Democracy Now! the ADAPT activists and the policemen were both doing their jobs, it just turned out that on that day, those jobs directly confronted each other. 


You can read Woodward's words on this incident at this column she wrote for Vox.