Plagiarism or Finding Purpose
This is the most difficult post I’ve had to write.
I have been asked by both sides to comment on the Poem “Dementia and The Christmas Tree,” which I will do. The question posed is whose words are these – Norrms McNamara or Harry Urban? I have posted both versions at the bottom of this blog. Please keep in mind, both men have Dementia. Both are full of wonderful and powerful insights they share with people. Both use different yet similar platforms to share their wisdom.
I believe each man is an incredible example to all of us for speaking, writing and sharing his thoughts when he has them. Both men are brave souls making a huge difference worldwide. I would hate for this incident, to detour Harry, Norrms or anyone else with Dementia who is thinking about sharing their thoughts to help raise awareness.
Please note below are my goals for Dementia awareness and how I try to live my own life which may help you understand how and why I am addressing the question of plagiarism the way I am. If you are looking for me to pick sides, you will be disappointed as I will not, nor will I make judgment as I respect both men way too much for that.
First, my personal goal is to raise awareness in a collaborative fashion around the world giving voice to all who have important information and insights regarding Dementia.
Second, I have found for me that when I judge or look for blame it takes much of my personal energy and I’m not willing to give that up anymore. I try very hard not to go down the rabbit hole of negativity. I try to practice not controlling others outcomes. I have learned over the years, I can only control myself and my choices; and so I try to lead by example vs. trying to make someone else change. I’ve also found when I try to make someone else change I am setting up a win lose situation and I have found life is not so much black and white, as it is grey. When I look back at my life, I have also found that all of the control and judging I have done, and believe me I have done more than my fair share over the years, has distracted me from my core intent… in this case raising awareness for Dementia.
Third, and most important I don’t know the actual answer; nor do I think any of us do. I think the truth falls somewhere in the middle in that grey matter. YES, I believe Harry’s comments were his own and came from his heart and soul. And YES, I believe Norrms did the same. I also believe that what each of us experiences through what we see, hear, touch, feel and read can affect us in different ways. Sometimes these events can trigger us to dive deeper in thought. Do I think Norrms intent was to steal, harm or take credit away from Harry? My guess is no. Did Norrms see or hear about Harry’s Christmas Tree story? I do not know. And given Norrms has Dementia he may not either. For me, I also have to consider it is the holiday season and both men are very good at taking something which most of us don’t understand and simplifying it in a visual way so the rest of us “get it.” A Christmas Tree, at this time of the year is a fairly common symbol.
Was this plagiarism? In my book no, but I am not an expert. I do see a very similar theme; yet one explores others avenues as well. I think both are brilliant and have gotten the attention of many which I believe was the intent of each man… to raise awareness by drawing the world a simple picture to explain the disease.
Now, I do know many will want to argue this point publicly and with me, with Harry, with Norrms… which I truly hope they chose not to. Personally, I can’t imagine how either man feels at this point and I do worry about that. These are men with Dementia, both trying to have a positive influence to shift our Dementia care culture around the world. My hope is that people will chose which ever version they like and share it with others to help raise awareness.
I am going to look at the similarities of these writings in this fashion –
- Both are extremely poignant.
- Both have cause a stir to those who read them.
- Neither should be forgotten.
- And something my parents told me… That when someone wants to be like you, say or write something like you have; it truly is a form of flattery nothing more nothing less and it is usually very innocent.
- And last, that all voices need to be heard as we all reach different audiences and different times.
So to Harry and Norrms I say this.
“I love you both. I respect each of you enormously and I hope you each continue to raise awareness for Dementia because you both have a beautiful way with words that uncomplicates the complicated and the world needs you!”
For the rest of my audience I have a request.
If you have a comment on this article please write me personally, as I will not be posting comments on the blog or facebook regarding this. I think there has been too much damage done to both of these men and I won’t add to that. I also don’t think any harm was done intentionally, but looking over words and phrases stated well I just think it is a perfect time to pause and think. Please keep in mind, Dementia is a disease which causes stress. I believe we need to reduce the stress to those living with the disease and not add to them.
Below are both Harry and Norrms writings:
Harry Urban’s Thoughts
I’m asked all the time, what it is like living with Alzheimer’s. It a very hard question to answer because it affects everyone differently. It reminds me of a Christmas tree. Every light on that tree is a part of your memory. Each light represents something special in your life.
Slowly one of those lights burns out never to shine again. As time goes on, more lights burn out. This continues until every light burns out and your beautiful Christmas tree is dark. What was once something special is now just a tree. That is what living with Alzheimer’s is like.
Norrms McNamara’s Thoughts
Dementia And The Christmas tree
I am often asked “What, in layman’s terms, is Dementia?” and I often answer it this way, especially at this time of year.
If you can imagine a Christmas tree, absolutely dripping with lights that shine as bright as you have ever seen. Have you ever wondered of the beauty of it and how it shines those lights of hope all around the world?
Then, if you imagine that every one of those wonderful lights are your life’s memories which can be seen (remembered) at any time. Then all of a sudden, one by one, those lights go out. Slowly but surely they start to diminish until they are gone forever, never to return, all memories of loved ones, family and life’s experiences just disappear until the final one folds into darkness and we all know, unless they find a cure what this means.
This is how I explain, in Layman’s terms what Dementia is,
BUT!! And as you know by now there is always a but with me LOL!!
If sometimes, you give that Christmas tree a bit of a nudge!! (And I do not in any way condone shaking anyone with Dementia!!LOL) but, if you include and Engage with people who have this awful disease, sometimes, just sometimes these wonderful lights come back on, if only for a second, a few minutes or permanently, it doesn’t matter, the point is they have come back on and that memory has returned, for no matter how long.
I hope this helps and will help people in the future to try and explain what Dementia is, especially around this time of year.
All my love, Norrms xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx