I missed something important on March 7th that I wanted to mention before the month is over; an observance day that is so important, I don't believe it should be limited to just one day. It involves a campaign designed to make people more aware of certain words they use when addressing others...now that things have calmed down on my end, I can focus on this topic and give it the attention it deserves.
The campaign I am speaking of is called the 'Not Acceptable R-Word' and you can also see the clip posted above on youtube at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T549VoLca_Q The 'R' word this campaign is referring to is the word 'Retard' which is often used as a bad name, and has been spoken with negative connotations for years. Now I admit; words in general tend to impress me as a writer...just a slight change of phrase or an omission of one simple word can change the entire meaning of a sentence in many ways. Though what continues to amaze me is how our society often ignores the true meaning of words by using them in derogatory ways, in order to insult each other and hurt one another's feelings. In fact, SO much time is spent trying to invent new ways to insult each other, it often makes me want to crawl under the covers and stay there! My point is if you actually looked up the definition of the word retard in the dictionary, you would find the following definitions: To cause to move or proceed slowly; delay or impede...A slowing down or hindering of progress. It is a word originally created to describe a mental and/or cognitive delay...it was not created to imply that someone is dumb, or worthless, or less of a person. However, this is how many people in our society use this word, which does NOT impress me...not in the slightest. Using this word as an insult to others is a HUGE insult to people who live with these types of delays, because it implies that they are somehow worthless, and dumb. When quite frankly, I think it's the opposite. Because these people know better than to use the R-word against others...they know how much it hurts.
I'm disturbed these days by what passes for news in this country, when headlines are wasted on one actress's latest stint in rehab, the verbal arguments of another's divorce or the "Proof" of a famous star's plastic surgery. Does it all really matter?? We are wasting so much of our time concerning ourselves with the UNimportant...and in the process many of us have become callous and self absorbed. In turn, words are being used inappropriately, with the useless purpose of insulting a group of people who's daily struggles ARE important. If everyone had to live a week in someone else's shoes, they might just learn what it's like to face that person's struggles...and I think this holds true for everything. If more people understood what it was like to live with a drug addiction, they might not be so quick to absorb the gossip of someone else's struggle with one--it just wouldn't be as exciting. If more people attempted to heal from extensive plastic surgery, they might not be in such a hurry to discuss the surgery of others. And if more of us could understand what it was like to face life with mental and cognitive delays, perhaps the derogatory insult of 'Retard' would no longer hold any weight.
If you've read my blog in the past, you'll know that I live with delays of my own...which was one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to raise awareness of what it's like to live with such physical delays--the frustrations you face, the things you do to adapt, even the goals you set for yourself. I am no stranger to name calling...I've been called names that would make your nose hairs curl; I still face such discrimination and hurtfulness to this day, and assume it will continue as long as I dwell on this earth. Because one thing you can count on is when someone happens to be different, there will be someone else who sees this as a negative. I'm not sure if this is because they cannot understand the differences and are therefore afraid of them, and they choose to face this fear with anger and hate...or if it represents their own self esteem issues which they deal with by verbally knocking others down. It's probably a little of both...all I know is that understanding the reasons behind someone else's negative behavior might explain things to a point, but it doesn't necessarily make the names hurt any less. If you are one of the lucky ones and persevere, you learn to hold your head up even higher when you hear them.
And if you do hear the R-word directed towards another, don't laugh...it's just not funny. Lead by example, please, and rise above this immaturity...instead, try to think of whose feelings are being hurt in the process. And if you have spoken this word as an insult, then take a moment...and think about what the word truly means, and what it means to you. Most of all, think about what it might mean to others who hear you speak it. I think the best way our society can eradicate all the insults, the negativity and the hate, is to take a second look at the force behind the words we use...and to make a point of speaking kindly whenever possible. Maybe when the kindness grows larger, there just won't be anymore room for the rest of it. And that would be amazing!
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.