Now that we've moved, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and hope to be back to blogging more...I miss it. Anyway...
I watched a segment last night of ABC's "What Would You Do?" and have lifted most of the background from Patricia Bauer's blog, followed by my reaction:
On a segment of ABC’s “What Would You Do?” that aired yesterday, customers in a Brooklyn grocery store were trapped in a checkout line behind rude shoppers who berated a bagger with Down syndrome. The customers didn’t know that the clerk and the rude shoppers were all actors. Hidden cameras recorded everyone’s reactions to abusive language that the show described as happening “all too often” in real life.
“You’re absolutely retarded, dude! You have to go faster,” an actress shouted.
While some customers ignored the abuse, others spoke up in defense of the clerk, played by actor Josh Eber. “He’s a person, the same as you and I, with feelings,” said a woman identified as “Karen”, a teacher who has taught children with disabilities. “Everybody deserves an education. Everybody deserves a job, and everybody deserves a chance in this life. And you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Madeleine Will of the National Down Syndrome Society underscored the hurtfulness of insults like the word “retard.” She called on the public to speak up against verbal abuse.
“When we’re silent, our silence condones the language,” she said. “It’s important to say, again and again, this is wrong, this is not fair, this is not how we treat other people.”My reaction: I was inspired to watch the piece because I must have received half a dozen communications about it from friends and others within the Down syndrome community...I have seen these special reports before and like seeing how people react in difficult situations....it always gives me something to think about, putting myself in their shoes. This time, though, it was different. Half way through the taunts and the insults, I could no longer hold back the tears and started sobbing. Although I knew it was a setup, the situation is all too real; and has been experienced by countless people with disabilities; and one day, Lucas too will know what that's like. And I can't change that inevitability because it's the world we live in.
I started thinking about the first time Lucas hears someone call him a "retard" or when other kids make fun of him for not keeping up or for just being a little "different"...I thought about having to face the pain in his eyes and I became determined, more than ever, to make sure we give him the tools to defend himself, because we won't always be there to protect him. For as much as I want to shelter him from all that's bad and wrong in this world, I know we can't and he will need to learn these heartbreaking, difficult lessons. When I look at him, yes, I see his disability, but more than anything, I see my son who I love more than I ever thought possible. How I wish the rude, crude, and insensitive could walk a day in my shoes...this perspective is priceless for finding tolerance, understanding, compassion, and love far beyond what I ever thought possible before I became Lucas' mom. And although at times I still shake my fist at God because this journey is not always easy, I am a better person and mother because of Lucas, and I wouldn't change him or my life for anything.