Every year I try to create a post highlighting why I feel it is important to support and practice the Spread The Word To End The Word movement. In an attempt to sum up just how I feel, I am going to redeliver last year’s post with a few changes. We live in a society where having an opinion is often an automatic right to discount the opinions and feelings of others and, essentially, where compassion is lost in a cloud of arrogance. Let this not be a lecture. Let this be a simple message.
Last year I wrote this post in the hospital while Tessa was finishing her last round of chemotherapy, for what I hoped would be for the rest of her life. I remember the fire that ignited in me knowing that despite her fight for life was also her fight for respect in everyday life outside of cancer.
There are many words I can use to describe Tessa’s journey to today. Retarded is not one of those words. And it never will be.
Tomorrow (March 4, 2015) is the day where once a year I, along with thousands of others, stand united and encourage people everywhere to hear our voices. We ask for this pledge to be signed, understood, practiced; and not just for today, but every day.
I am talking about the movement ending the use of the r-word. Retard. Retarded. It is more than a word. It is a classification labeling people who do not deserve the label. It is a word that minimizes the vast accomplishments that my daughter and others make each and every day.
I am not stripping anyone of their first amendment rights (because, yes, I have heard that one before). I am challenging people to be better for others and for themselves.
Why? Because we need a reminder to be considerate, courteous, compassionate and polite. It might not mean anything to some people, but to many others–like me–it does.
This world places limits on people with intellectual disabilities and challenges them to rise above. Yet those who place the limits fail to stick around for the good part. Not only do they rise above, they soar far above the expectations. They conform to the standards of everyday life. They persevere. They do it all, but the word still exists. It is still used. It is still hurtful.
Tessa is more than the word that is used to reduce her. She deserves better.
I am not over-sensitive. I am a mom of a child with special needs. I am a mom of typical children. I am a human being asking for a shred of decency and Respect. Please spare me the speech that when the r-word is used that it implies nothing about people with differing abilities…because it absolutely does. Preaching that we are over-sensitive is a lame excuse for poor behavior when it is so simple to be better.
So if it is just a word, then please pick a different word…a better word.
Sign the pledge. Remember it. Pass it on.
***Steps down from soap box…