Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Choosing not to Widen the Gap: Eradicating the R-word

"When employing this specific language, the objective is to separate and distinguish the 'user' from those being 'used.' The user in this case, of course, is the person spewing the words: 'retard,' 'retarded' and '-tard.' Those being used are the original population of special needs individuals who served as the catalyst for this kind of disparaging vitriol in the first place. They are those kids who ride on the smaller school bus. The ones who have personal space, proximity issues. The ones who talk funny. The ones with flat faces. The ones who drool. The ones who talk to themselves. And most importantly, many of those with intellectual disabilities are defenseless to this word."
Many people jump to: "whatever, they don't know/can't understand me so it's ok." But it's not.
Later in the article the author asks anyone who uses the R word, or versions of it, to take a second and choose compassion. S/he asks, why "other" someone else?
People matter. Words matter. Words fuel actions and actions shape our reality. Why not stop, take a second, and choose words that shape a reality that brings us closer together, to be stronger, more accepting and compassionate? A simple change of habit is all it takes.
The Buddha is said to have had three thoughts: unity and polarization. With polarization being two thoughts against one another. To me, the truth of the matter is that we are all in this together and we make a choices everyday to grow closer in unity or to widen the polarity gaps between us. Using the R word is choosing to widen the gap. Judging people based on race or sexuality is choosing to widen the gap. Stigmatizing people with mental illness is choosing to widen the gap. There are many opportunities in the world we live in today to widen the gap. But using the R word is a particularly unnecessary one.
And if you don't think contributing to polarized societies affects you, I think you are wrong. The more we try to separate ourselves, polarize ourselves, "other" each other, the more we all suffer. The weaker we become. Because no one lives on an island; or we all live on an island. Together, and it's called Earth.