The reason I started Jason’s Connection is not just about disability. Ironically my real passion for life is understanding people. I like to understand why we are who we are and, why we do what we do and why we still build societies that exclude people. I like to understand how people see the world and why they see it that way and how that affects us overall.
When I was really young my interest was zoology and ecology. I loved animals and thought nature was so amazing. I would go to the zoo almost every week and spend a lot of my time watching animal documentaries. As I got older animals seemed to make sense but people didn't’t always. But more than ever, even when it became easier to understand what people meant, the question of “why” became stronger. Why do so many people have so many different beliefs? Why do we include some people but not others? I became really interested in psychology, sociology and especially anthropology. So why get involved with what I am doing now? Well there are two reasons.
Why do so many people have so many different beliefs? Why do we include some people but not others?
First, I have now gone back to graduate school after graduating college. I love learning about these subjects especially anthropology but my studies can feel too distant from the realities of everyday life. Academic focus often is about culture’s far away or people who lived thousands of years ago and although it gave some good insight into people, I want to use that outside of an academic context. So even though I love culture and people I want to incorporate that into everyday life and I feel that I can do that through Jason’s Connection.
Secondly, I also strongly believe in social justice. I see myself as an ally to people who are leading the way for overall inclusion, empowerment and increased understanding of human differences of all kinds. I also recognize that I am part of one particular group that is asking for specific rights and that is people with disabilities. This focus became my passion. But I also recognize that the issues surrounding disabilities is part of a much bigger picture of society and our humanity. This is the way support systems work as things are connected. The way people tend to “otherize” people has a part in this issue and many other social rights movement issues but is effected by the way people interact with each other. By being able to look at each person as an individual through a micro and personal level as well as a macro and cultural level it enables me to do what I love and hopefully expand the conversation as part of the Jason’s Connection community.
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.