I typically post the End the Word Day post on 3/21, as it is National Down Syndrome Day. Today, I have a bigger post, my brain took off and got grandiose.
Last year, I decided that the heart of the disparaging use of the word "Retarded" was less the word choice. (You know, find an unoffensive word to call someone...there are many synonyms and all that.) And I boiled it down to this:
"If you can't use the "R" word, why do you need another word to cut and hurt? Why do you need to find another disparaging word? Why can't you walk away? Why can't you use nice words with your friends? Why do you need to tear your own worth down because of a silly mistake?
Look for the good. Understand choices come from others' pasts. Understand that you are human, and move forward.
If you can't say something nice, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL."
I believe the most "popular war" was that of World War II. It was possibly the only war in the history of time that had a clear cut bad guy doing bad things that was clearly defeated. There are BUCKETS of documentaries on it, movies, and books on it, because of that fact.
The WWII concentration camps were used to confine "dangerous" political adversaries first. Hitler was doing it to protect those in power, and the superior groups under the guise of protecting the country from groups who would damage their country.
Then, they decided to weed out the sick to strengthen the general population and keep them "safe". There were euthanasia plans, panels, and those who carried them out. Then there were horrific experiments performed on them.
And all of these things were allowed by the rest of the population. No one said anything. Because it didn't apply to them.
It was a slow devaluation of certain lives...that quietly expanded...in both the groups targeted and the violence that was heaped onto the groups in isolation. The sick became the physically disabled, the mentally disabled, the Romany, the Jews...anyone without voices...anyone without support...even those who would protect and support those that were having these despicable acts done to them.
The most horrifying dart of information that I got as a parent of a child with disabilities was the knowledge that the first group of people to be categorized, tortured, and murdered in the death camps were people with disabilities. They were first line. They are the unmourned of World War II.
If the entire population had banded together and said "NO. No one deserves this." at that first time, at the first wave, I don't think the camps could have gathered the momentum he did.
Now. I am not conspiracy theorizing here. I am not saying that we are prepping for the next crazed tyrant. I am really not. I am saying that this level of disrespect of others is the beginning of that first wave.
And I ask you to ask yourself, what is that first ripple of that first wave? Believing yourself to be better than your neighbor. To scorn your brother. To believe you must be superior to be valued.
You are nothing without compassion. You are nothing without love. You are nothing without your brother.
End the use of the word "retarded". End the belief that living life more slowly is bad. End believing that you must be superior from your neighbor to have worth. Love those that show life is a full spectrum of abilities and histories. Be the voices for those who have none by LISTENING TO THEM. Learn the beauties of life that they offer. Feel the struggles and triumphs that they have experienced. Learn and grow and love. You will be the better for it.
And in these political days, I highly suggest that you look for that respect in your next president, as well.