My thoughts on the statement from AOTA's Board of Directors on the U.S. Capitol Breach and Ongoing Threats of Violence:
In regards to participation in our professional association I seek to focus on what brings us together as a community of occupational therapy practitioners rather than what may divide us as individual citizens.
Condemnation of racism, discrimination, violence, and illegal behavior including the destruction of public property should be championed. The right to gather in peaceful protest and to express our opinions are guaranteed in our Constitution and are consistent with actions to fight against social injustice and occupational deprivation. Too often we conflate the peaceful exercise of rights with the unlawful looting and destruction that sometimes accompanies these protests. We live in a society in which looting and violence accompany celebratory events such as a Superbowl Parade and yet we do not condemn those who attended peacefully to celebrate their team’s achievement; neither should we condemn those who peacefully protested racism and systemic discrimination over the last year because of the bad acts that happened concurrently.
The acts that occurred at our Capitol were unlawful and unacceptable. We can come together in condemnation of such acts even while continuing to disagree over the political events that may have contributed to them. Likewise, I would hope we could come together in support of the call for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion while respectfully disagreeing over some of the related public policy.
It is always appropriate for AOTA to comment on widespread racism, systemic discrimination, occupational deprivation and unethical and/or illegal behavior by occupational therapy practitioners. Separating these issues from political positions is paramount. As a member service organization AOTA must always remember that our membership mirrors our citizenry at large. It is a tightrope that the AOTA Board of Directors must walk and I applaud them for the efforts to find the right message knowing that as in the case of this most recent statement, they will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
I encourage all of us to remain respectful in our discourse in the coming days. Professionally we have a common bond in our core values and our Code of Ethics. These principles can guide us in troubling times.
The opinions expressed in my blog are personal and neither represent the views of my employer nor any organization.