15 December 2008

the R word

I have been trying to avoid writing this post for some time. I don't want to sound like a ranting mother or fanatic activist. But, I can hide in the shadows of avoidance no longer.

I would rather not have to come right out and tell you what the "R" word is, exactly, but I think that I must, in order for my thought process, here, to make sense. The "R" word is retard or retarded. It can represent either, or. I loathe this word. I have loathed it even before birthing, what the world would say is a less-than-perfect baby.

Yes, of course, I have used this word in my lifetime. Probably, last week. But I still detest it. It is so derogatory. I'm not really sure what derogatory means, but it sounds like a good word to describe the aforementioned.

Now, I have heard many a person use this "R" word to describe an event or action.
"Oh, that party was so re*#rd*d! I mean she had no good food, and there was only warm tap water to drink." or "That guy just snaked my parking spot. Is he r#&*$#ed? I'm gonna knock his block off!"

I don't take any major offense to these trite comments. We are all only human, after all. You've got to let some things slide. However, when it is used in an insulting joke (one about Sarah Palin and Trig come to mind), it is just tasteless and wrong. Not because I, personally, have a child with special needs, but because it is ruthless and unnecessary. There are things that you know when you hear them that they aren't worth repeating. Things you shouldn't want to repeat. Things that you wish you could erase from you subconcious, immediately. Things you want to stop thinking about so badly, it seems all you can do is think about them. Once I had heard of someone saying, "R*#@%*s, you gotta love 'em. They were put on this Earth for one reason only; to make us laugh!" Uh, are you kidding me with this? I think that guy is re#*%ded for saying something like that. Much more so than any challenged individual I have ever met (incidently, that guy is in prison, as I type this). What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is wrong with people? I sure wish that I knew.

People that are differently-abled are certainly not inferior to the regularly-abled population. In fact, I think quite the opposite. I think that God chose them to fulfill a higher purpose. One that we are not equipped for. Because, frankly, God didn't think we had the chops. There is a divine order to life that surpasses all human understanding.

So, okay, we don't understand certain things. And the unknown is always a little uncomfortable for people. It is in our natural defenses to joke about things we are uncomfortable with or ignorant of. I do it, you do it. We all do it. But, now you know a real, live, person who has been touched by the unknown. It isn't so new to any of you anymore. It isn't scary or awkward. At least, it shouldn't be. Not now. Betsy has blended seamlessly into all of our lives, even if you only know her in the cyber-world. What was once a far-off concept is now so close you could touch it. Or her.

No one wants to be described in one word. None of us are that static. Betsy is certainly greater than the sum of that dirty word's parts. She is so much more.

Remember this the next time the "R" word is on the tip of your tongue. You may pull it back into the recesses of your "don't go there" mental file. And, just think, you may be able to educate someone else on this matter, and in 10 or 25 or 1000 years, we won't even use the "R" word any more. Or, other words that suck!

Wouldn't that be grand?

Au revoir!

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