Special Needs

Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. ~ Wikipedia

I made the mistake of reading comments on an Instagram post in favor of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They were mostly positive. But, there was one naysayer who stood out for his initial lack of vitriol. He was just mildly snarky. But, it was like he had committed some heinous sin, instead of posting a disagreement rooted in ignorance.

He was immediately under attack. Mostly the responses remained as snarky comebacks. However, one of them made me cringe.

It sounds like your boss is good at hiring people with special needs.

I couldn’t scroll past without addressing it.

Back in the day, the insult used was, “retard,” frequently accompanied by a physically mocking action. Much like 45’s mocking actions regarding a reporter who experiences a physical disability.

Another one is, “riding the short bus.”

However you frame it, it’s showing a prejudice toward people with disabilities, especially intellectual ones.

How about how mental health challenges are referred to?

What are you, crazy?

Man, that was INSANE!

She’s so bipolar.

That one’s not right in the head.

Or the fact that so many movies and TV shows portray mental health patients as dangerous killers and all the shootings being reported as someone with mental illness, before an evaluation can be done?

The stigma and prejudices against people with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities is real and insidious. Just as we need to recognize, call out, and address racism, in all its forms, sexism, genderism, and sizism, we need to call out ableism.

It isn’t about political correctness, it’s about human rights.

For more on my perspective on ableism, go here.


How would you react?

I only missed writing for one day, but it feels like it was a week or so. Maybe that’s partly because for the past week or so I’ve been kind of spiraling with the depression and dissociating a little bit and the last several entries were written during that phase.

I don’t know that I’m on an upward swing or if it’s just completely easier for me to be “on” when Jerry is home. He got home at around 4:30 this morning, along with his co-driver who had to wait several hours until he could get his Greyhound ticket to go home, about a four hour drive away.

I’d known for certain since Friday that he was going to be home today but still didn’t get much cleaning done until the very last minute. Changing my OCD aversion to cleaning will be my next DIY self-improvement project. I canceled our Home Visit from the Head Start lady yesterday, partially because of how chaotic, cluttered, and basically disgusting my apartment was. It really was that bad. I didn’t really get focused & motivated until I knew he would be arriving in about six hours.

Anyway, I stayed up to wait for him. I finally went to bed around 2:30 a.m. but was restless. When he got in I was semi-conscious, but not functional. Luna woke up briefly and snuggled over to him. I am really looking forward to having more space to myself on the bed for the next several nights.

She went right back to sleep but Jerry & I didn’t get much rest. When I came out of our room I found his co-driver hadn’t slept either. Thankfully, Luna was able to go to her pre-school program today and she went without any problem even though it meant leaving daddy behind for a few hours.

Finally the time arrived to get his co-driver to the bus station. Jerry had parked the rig at his mom’s and borrowed her car to come home, so we drove downtown to the Greyhound station.

Our Greyhound station is next to the railroad station and is a stop for one of our local light rail transit lines, in addition to being at the North end of the Old Town portion of downtown. So, there are always a fair number of people hanging around with their bags, sleeping bags, and unkempt appearances.

We have a significant homeless population, many of whom regularly access hygiene, clothing and food services through various agencies that are networked to try to help the most at risk and vulnerable in our society. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between fellow travelers and the homeless, many of whom can be part of both categories.

As we were walking from the parking lot to the entrance this older gentleman with bright blue eyes, a significant growth of white scruff, which was slightly yellowed around the mouth, and an open, friendly smile started talking to us. He asked something about if we were of Irish descent. We responded, smiling, but kept trying to make progress toward the entry.

Between the three of us there were two lit cigarettes (I am an occasional smoker, very infrequent) and the guy said something about telling jokes for a smoke. We stopped and gave him one and a light. So, he continued to interact with us.

Then his jokes went from innocuous to bigoted: racist and sexist. They were the kind of statements and riddles that took me back to my childhood and growing up with the uncouth subculture and decidedly pre-PC generation that included my grandpa, Whitey, and his raucous cohorts.

Here is this old, slightly built guy who reminded me of my grandpa in both good and bad ways. It became fairly clear he was homeless and perhaps experiencing some kind of psychological disturbance. He thinks he’s being friendly and sociable and all he’s being is socially unacceptable and inappropriate without being overtly malicious.

My companions and I kept trying to edge away, exchanging awkward chuckles and stealthy glances in discomfort and disbelief. Finally he said something about what name to call him. I asked him if he was sure his name wasn’t Archie Bunker. Everyone laughed at that and we were finally able to make our escape.

The whole episode left my heart feeling sad and a sour taste in my mouth.

How might you have handled this encounter differently, perhaps more constructively?

Since I didn’t post yesterday I’m playing catch up.

Gratitude Days 19 & 20
• I am so grateful that we have come far enough that racially motivated “jokes” are no longer able to make us laugh or smile without also making us cringe and realize how wrong and horrific they really are.
• I am thankful that Jerry is home. Watching Luna dance and spin around, calling out,”Dance with me daddy, look at me!” just puts the biggest smile on my face.

Let us check ourselves before we wreck ourselves

This message is to and for ALL of my friends, loved ones, neighbors, acquaintances, haters, and strangers alike regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, socio-economic status, religion, spiritual practice or whatever part of the spectrum of good or bad behavior you may believe you are on:

Bigotry, intolerance, and hatefulness reside on both sides of every fence. I profess to be a Christian, but at times it is a scary prospect and at others it is a shaming prospect, if I only consider what other humans do and say to and about each other in the name of Jesus and God. The thing that concerns me in this present time of ever increasing division and strife in the US and other nations, in this era of expanding economic division and downturn, and in the rush and desire to place the blame on the “other” is that Jesus left us with the directives to love God and love people and to leave judging up to God.

This is most clearly demonstrated when the religious leaders of the day brought the woman “caught in adultery” and tried to get Jesus to pass judgment on her then and there and offer her up for punishment according to Old Testament law.  In actuality, they were doing then what many do today, taking it out of context and applying only to one and not to all, because the actual Old Testament law would have had her male partner also brought up for judgment and punishment.  All sin is sin, and no one sin is greater than the other, regardless of our human oriented ranking system.

So, Jesus called them on it.  “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

One by one all the accusers slipped away until none were left.

Lesson 1) It doesn’t matter who you are, how high or low you are on the hierarchy, at some point in your life you have made or will make a choice, take an action, miss an opportunity or in some kind of way say or do something that is unloving and mean spirited that will be acted out in what is known and understood as sinful behavior. Unlike the human justice system that says we are to be tried by a jury of our peers, God’s justice system says, if we can’t do right in our own lives for our own selves then we don’t have the right to judge another.

What happened next?

“Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No,” was her reply.

“Then neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

She was caught in an act of sinful behavior, yet Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.” He came to save and not condemn. He is the redeemer, the restorer, the bridge between humanity and divine.  Yes he gave her a directive to go and sin no more, but he didn’t attach it as a condition to whether or not he was going to condemn her.

Lesson 2) If Jesus isn’t going to condemn a person while they are alive and walking around on this earth and final judgment happens by God at the end of the earth, then NO ONE in the HERE and NOW is CONDEMNED.

New Testament biblical principles for holding one another accountable, in love, is for those who have chosen and decided to join in community with other believers “in Christ”. Going and making disciples of the nations and spreading the good news of Jesus’ restoration and reconciliation, does not happen by pointing fingers, placing blame, and seeking to defend our position to justify why we are right and “they” are wrong, why we are “saved” and “you” are cursed and damned.

Regardless of which side of the matter we fall on, which doctrine or theology we believe, returning spite for spite is the one thing that may have existed in Old Testament governance, but we were directed to leave up to God to avenge our injustices according to what Jesus taught and did.  If we call ourselves Christians and claim the name of Jesus, we need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves and continue to heap burning coals on our own heads.