Ignore Disabled People Out of Embarrassment?

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

I’m a devout Unitarian Universalist (UU).  To get technical on you (aka cut and pasting from the www.uua.org website), that means my “spirituality is unbounded, drawing from scripture and science, nature and philosophy, personal experience and ancient tradition…” UUs are also, “brave, curious, and compassionate thinkers and doers. We are diverse in faith, ethnicity, history and spirituality, but aligned in our desire to make a difference for the good. We have a track record of standing on the side of love, justice, and peace.”

I’m sharing this because our first Principle is: The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Today I was hanging out on Quora and a particular question caught my attention:

If you are visibly disfigured or disabled and a random three-year-old loudly asks their parent(s) about you, what would you prefer the response of the parent(s) to be?

I deeply appreciated the answer by Cecelia Smith. She wrote about how many parents try to get their child to ignore disabled people out of embarrassment or desire not to be rude –  when their young children ask questions about visibly disabled people.

She wrote that:

“I understand the parents think they are being polite and teaching their children manners – but what they really are doing is teaching their kids to ignore the existence of disabled people. I’d much rather have them see me as just someone who is a little different.”

I love her answer and you can read it by clicking on the question above. I have two young children and I’m going to make a point to follow this perspective and share it with others. Everyone has inherent worth and dignity. Ignoring someone seems ruder than engaging them in curious positivity. Especially when it comes to kids who are still learning about the world around them and the people within it.

On May 31 2017, my father became visibly disabled when he suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak and paralyzed on the right side of his body. He’s still recovering. He has 6 grandchildren who love and visit with him frequently. I’m just saying that this topic hits close to home for me.

My own children occasional say how much they miss when “Pop Pop” would pick them up and spin and play with them. It breaks my heart. They still remember those precious moments before he got sick. Although it hurts, I’m grateful that my father had those moments with them in the first place.

Make the most of each precious moment you have with your loved ones. Life as you know it can change in an instant.


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