I was in the DMV not too long ago and I was talking to a cop. He had just changed beats (is that the right word?) from Oakland to a moderately rich suburb. I said that it must be a break going from Oakland to that place. He said he preferred Oakland. I asked him why. I can’t remember exactly how he worded his response but the answer was essentially, if you treated people in Oakland like decent human beings, with dignity and respect, most of them acted like decent human beings in return. If you treat them otherwise they act however you treat them. You treat them like animals they’ll bark like animals. But in the suburb the rich felt entitled over him, because he was a cop and happened to be of a minority race.
I would ask that people treated the mentally ill like decent human beings. We are. Or most of us are anyway, I mean there are crude nasty human beings, but most people are decent, good folk if you treat them that way. We’re not criminals because we’re ill. We’re not to be pitied because of our illness. We are not so different from you all. Don’t treat mentally ill adults like children. We aren’t children. Don’t treat us like a plague upon society. We’re not.
This applies to many different groups, not just the mentally ill. If you see a physically disabled human being treat them like the second half of that title, not the first. Granted, at some points we are treated differently. For example at my university since I am considered disabled I can take fewer units than the minimum. Similarly a person in a wheelchair can park in handicapped spots. You know the similarity in those cases? It doesn’t affect you. Sure you might have to park a little further back. Sure you might have to take the minimum number of units or over. But remember an earlier post where I made the point:
The true unfairness isn’t that the person in the wheelchair gets to park closer to the store.
The real unfairness is that he’s in a wheelchair.
We are human beings, I promise. We are mostly decent human beings like the rest of you. I promise. So why not do this today: If you see someone in a powerchair, or someone disabled in some other fashion, say hello. Maybe even ask how they’re doing. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were in a powerchair I would feel lonely a lot because people, with the best intentions of not embarrassing the disabled person by staring at their wheelchair/powerchair, ignore them. So I shall name today: Say Hi To The Guy In The Wheelchair Day. Or maybe good morning, I don’t know. Something nice. (Though perhaps not “That’s a nice wheelchair you have there!” they may not appreciate that one, but who knows maybe a lot of thought went into it I don’t know.) But We shouldn’t need to have a specific day to do this. People are people are people.
We have feelings.
We don’t like feeling alone.
Be well, both to those in the wheelchair and those who can walk.