Monday, 30 April 2012


Of any kind
Without which...

Read what an Australian mother blogged yesterday on receiving confirmation that her daughter's multiple severe disabilities disabilities include cortical deafness:

I read it, and am humbled


The pages of the Internet carry colossal testimony to the importance of religious faith to many of those who care for disabled children and adults, not exclusively but for the main part amongst families. Partly due to of the present distribution of Internet use – or perhaps because of my particular linguistic horizons – almost all that I have seen of this is written in English, it comes from America, and it is Christian.

This anonymous Australian mother is Muslim.

Faith, hope and charity

No implication is to be drawn here that love as shown in this blog is the exclusive property of Christians and Muslims, or even of the peoples or the religions of the Book, or indeed of religions in general. Nor need one adopt A. N.Tolstoi's half-way house formulation: 'Where there is love, there is God also'.

We Brits (with unfortunate exceptions) and many in other lands too, tend not to 'do God', certainly not to do so publicly. Anyway, there is no need for God to explain or underpin love of any kind.

For good or ill, the human spirit is an extraordinarily powerful, conquering force, however expressed and wherever met. And bringing up disabled children may have to call upon deep reserves of the human spirit. Never having had personally to do so myself, I always stand humbled when I meet those who do. Could I be like that? I do hope so. But I cannot be sure...


There is much political, bureaucratic and would-be technical talk about 'carers', be these carers who bring up and look after their own disabled children and adults in their own families, or those whose look after those of others on behalf of families themselves, charitable agencies or the state.

It is less often mentioned explicitly that the word carers means 'those who care' – and that some carers may care less that others, and some may not care at all. Or about how caring in this literal, human sense might be nurtured and developed.

All the more reason to grasp the nettle and account this factor explicitly when considering the lives of disabled children and adults, and of those who care for them, especially those who are employed to 'care' and may be supposedly trained to do so.

'Training' conductors

I used to try to contribute to this in various ways when lecturing to student-conductors, one being by hanging what I said upon the connections between faith, hope and love, and how these might be manifest within even wholly non-religious understandings of the task of conductive educators. Was I successful? I do not know.

I have always been convinced that the most important part of conductors' 'training' is not simply or even primarily a matter of acquiring/transmitting skills, or even knowledge, but a matter of socialisation into a culture of values, beliefs, emotional commitments etc. I do not recall having come across explicit account of this either – though I have met many examples of its successes, and of its failures.

How does onecapture and convey the essence of Lightnur?

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking about faith a lot lately too Andrew; some of the people I am working with and their families are people of faith. I have been supporting some of these people through particularly difficult times - loss, illness, hospitalizations. I watch these people not crumble and stay hopeful, stay faithful, stay grateful - and as you said it is an incredibly humbling and human experience.

    I have been thinking about faith because in response to my support I am being thanked and 'blessed' as in people holding my hands and looking into my eyes and saying 'God bless you'. I don't know how or if to respond - but it is part of the humbling experience, to be included in this person's blessing and faith in such a genuine way.

    I think that you should know that what you taught us about faith and love and hope and belief and caring and emotional commitment was successfully imparted and comes through in my work every day. I had lunch with one of my brain injured adults mothers today; I marked the birthday of another client's deceased mother with him and watched him stand and move better than he has in ages; I sat with another client in hospital today listening to his tales of his beautiful wife swimming in a pond 60 years ago and then phoned her to tell her what he had said. I can still picture you lecturing us, your eyes closed, your fingertips touching each other, trying to impart lessons about love and belief and hope and their role in our work as conductors. Anyone can teach somebody the names of muscles and brain parts - you taught us what is essential for conduction. You gave us permission in a professional capacity to care and I know that so many people's lives are enriched because your students were taught that it is okay, professional, to care and love