...To End The Word.
I'm talking about the R-word. Please take a few minutes to watch this video.
During high school I chose to be a peer tutor for kids in the special needs class at our LDS seminary. It was challenging but amazing to get to help those kids. This class had very bright and highly functioning kids but it also had kids who were wheelchair bound and had no language skills and couldn't feed or take care of themselves. Some days I wondered if anything I did got through to kids who didn't speak or react when we talked to them, but then I noticed they all reacted when I played the piano. Some would hum, some would rock in time to the song, some would just smile, but they all reacted to the music. It really drove home for me the fact that they are there, listening, watching, and wanting to be loved and treated like everyone else. I loved all of those kids and would never do or say anything to hurt them.
I will admit that I have used the R-word flippantly in conversation, never about anyone with special needs. When I was growing up it was commonly used as in "Those shoes are so retarded" we also used "That's so gay", it was the 80's no one had any common sense (just look at the fashion and haircuts, mullets anyone?), but I'm still ashamed that I used those words without thinking and allowed myself to think it was OK.
That isn't meant to be an excuse, just a little background, and I know it is never acceptable to use that word, but in the interest of full disclosure I wanted to be perfectly honest. Today I pledge to never use that word again.
My thanks go out to the Hollis family for making this video and sharing it. You are all beautiful and brave and I'm so glad you decided to stand up against hate and use your experience to make the world a better place.