Mé féin ?

A mé féiner is a selfish person, someone who only looks after their own interests and possibly to the detriment of others.

I first heard of "mé féin" at a dinner out with a bunch of girls who all met while trying to improve a little South Dublin Autism School, and ended up becoming great friends in the process.

They were explaining about a local national school where parents had taken legal action to block a sibling enrolment, in order to move themselves further up the list.

So the family concerned now had two kids going to two different schools. Mé féin, Me First. Lovely. (NOT!)

Now my friends are not like this. We always worked together to improve things not only for our kids, but everyone else in the school, and hopefully elsewhere.

So who were these people who would pursue an objective that actually denies others the chance to benefit?
And then I thought about it a bit more and realised they were all around. Recognisable by their absence.

Their absence from the wider Autism Forum, their inability to engage with anyone who might be pursuing a different route (whether by choice or circumstance) and their indifference to the challenges faced by these people and their parents.

I've never seen them supporting a parent with of a child with Aspergers, in need of Advocacy in order to make a secondary school place work out.

Or someone whose child is doing so well that they are being kicked OUT of the Autism Clinical services, without a referral to anywhere else.

Or someone who has just been diagnosed, and is hitting a brick wall when applying for entitlements.

Or someone who's waited 12 months to GET a diagnosis, and has been told they have to wait another 18 months!

Try getting a mé féiner to wear a t-shirt to support greater Autism Awareness,
or shake a bucket, sponsor you or stand outside a shopping centre selling badges or lego puzzle pieces to help fund Advocacy, Diagnosis, Information, Counseling and Online Support.

What I do see a lot of people posting their support and advice on these questions when they come up on the Irish Autism Action Facebook Wall.

Everyday I see parents leaving a message to explain how they got the DCA on appeal, or kept their SNA, or convinced the local Autism services to give them a few hours of desperately needed respite.

But the mé féiner is conspicuous by their absence.

They also seem to be ignorant of the wider special needs community - which is being severely hard hit in the current economic climate.

Can't see the mé féiner posting on the Special Needs Parents Facebook Page!

This is a fantastic page that unites with a common goal of securing the potential of ALL special needs kids by maintaining their educational and clinical supports.

Or the Inclusion Ireland facebook page.

These guys are the umbrella body for over 160 organisations providing services and support to the almost 28,000 people with an intellectual disability in Ireland.

These amazingly motivated people take a Big Picture view.

Hopefully their own families will also benefit from their hard work and persistence. Because many many others will benefit too.

With another tranche of cutbacks and 'savings' to be dragged out of government departments; we're going to have to stick together to get through this. So:

Ní neart go chur le chéile*

(*it is only by working together that we will be strong)


Katy said…
Well said Hammie,I am grateful my son is doing ok at the moment but the equivilent phrase in cockney is "sod you Jack i i'm alright" this attitude all ways remind me of a poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller
THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Taz said…
brilliant, Ham! Echoing katy's cockney phrase, we refer to it as "I'm alright, jack, pull up the ladder!" This attitude makes my blood boil.
Jen said…
I call it 'me feiner', they are always around and always benefiting from the hard work of others, while actually hampering that work at times. Ultimately we all have the same goal, to do the best we can for our children, that should be enough to keep us together. Sad that it isn't. J.
Petunia said…
I really detest the "I'm alright Jack" brigade. Terrible that they exist in all walks of life. Great post chick xx
Hey! Have forwarded your iphone post to friends. You are awesome, hammie.

But I have to ask about the lego pieces thing. Sounds better than a puzzle! And more than that, they come in different shapes and stuff. Link?
Make Do Style said…
So true for all walks of life - it is such a shame but keep being open and inclusive and they might get it in the end!!
Jean said…
They're everywhere, tragically, making it all the more important that we find a like-minded, open-hearted group in which to support each other.
Of course we have that on fb, but it could easily make cynics of us when we see people tread all over others to get ahead themselves.
Great post doll xxx
Andra said…
I hate Me feiner's, I am of the school of thought that you help those who can't help themselves. Have no time for people who don't or more importantly won't help out in times of strife. Seriously what does it cost anyone to pass on a bit of advice or information that could enable a parent to get the right help for their child. Where I live we have a wonderful little theatre that a lot of kids go to to learn speech and drama, parents are delighted that they have somewhere to go but ask those same parents to help out with fundraising or maybe cleaning up after a show and they are nowhere to be found. Perfect example of the take what you can attitude but give nothing back!!
I wasn't sure how to comment on this post as I suspect I would have fallen into the 'me feiner' category 20 years ago...and I would also be selfish sometimes wrt my own kids eg when I moved Smiley to a school and settled my High Court case rather than fight for an education for her and the other kids where she was (one psychologist is still not speaking to me over that). As parents I think we are in the front line in terms of educating others. Yesterday in the schoolyard of my son's school, a mother said to a friend of mine abut my son: "there's something wrong with him isn't there? Is it cystic fibrosis?" My friend explained.... I presume it's this kind of thing that you feel needs changing...