My Message

by Joshua Gooding

All my life I have faced difficulties including ADD, Tourette syndrome, OCD, and Asperger syndrome, but I, with the help of my parents and others, managed to deal with them.  I discovered a talent for teaching, especially students with disabilities of their own.  I believe the process of going through my disabilities strengthened me.

I attended the University of Washington, majoring in mathematics and minoring in linguistics.  I then went to UC Davis to study for my PhD in mathematics, planning on becoming a professor.  However at the end of the first quarter I was diagnosed with brain cancer.  I didn't get to take finals because I had to have brain surgery.  After surgery I could not speak, write, or move my right side.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to teach again.  The doctors didn't expect me to get better but I did.

When the next school year was approaching I said, “I'm going back to school.”  People thought I was crazy.  I didn't expect to do well, or even make it though the first quarter, but felt I had to try.  I made it though almost a full school year with decent grades before my health got worse.  Reach for the stars, and I bet you'll get farther than you thought.  I learned a lot and also learned to redefine my definition of teaching.

I came back home.  A private school named Academy Schools where I worked during college created an award named the Joshua Gooding Award For Perseverance.  I gave a speech at the end of each year and then handed the awards to two students.  This year will likely be the last, but my mother will take over my duties.

In those speeches I mainly talked about the importance of education.  I talked about how I and the students could not have been successful without support.  In my last one I talked about how many people around the world don't have that support, and asked my audience to help support education, and to pass my message along.

One thing I left out of the speeches were general human rights, and I was just the other day remined of that by a friend who has been sitting out in the protests that are going on in Israel.  I believe a civilization cannot truly thrive without human rights.  One of these is education, but there are more: heath care, shelter, and many others.  The founding fathers stated clearly in the Declaration of Independence that life is a basic human right.  Even if you don't believe the poor have “earned” it, it's in your best interest to help bear the costs of providing for them.

A healthy population is good for all of us.  It prevents the spread of disease and makes people more productive.  Some people say ER's are universal health care.  I have spent much time in the ER, and believe me, it's not universal heath care.  ER's are wonderful places, where lives are saved; but they are terrible places where there is too much crowding and the wait can literally kill.  Why this wait?  Because of Americans who think it's universal health care.  It costs just a fraction of the amount to go early on to a doctor's appointment for something that may eventually develop into a condition that will need to be seen in the ER because someone doesn't have health insurance.  So you might be in a car wreck or have a stroke and wait for ten hours before they get to you.

Shelter is a basic human right.  Even in a tent.  The homeless have to live somewhere, or they can't live anywhere, violating their right to life.  But so many people say “not in my back yard” that it becomes illegal to be homeless.  They say that the homeless can stay in homeless shelters, forgetting the inconvenient fact that most of the homeless shelters are absolutely packed full.  In Seattle, and I'm sure many other cities, it is illegal to camp anywhere in the city.  There's a church that allows the homeless to camp on their parking lot.  But the city occasionally raids the place taking machetes to cut open the tents and destroying the homeless' belongings.

There are of course many other human rights that I only give a few examples.  So I ask you, please go out and do something.  And while I'm here and after, spread my message to all you can.  You can get this in Google Documents at http://tinyurl.com/3kov3zq.