Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spread the word to end the word

photo taken when Max was 10 months old - at the Buddy walk with John C McGinley

So - today is that day again. March 3rd - The day we use to campaign the "Spread the Word to End the Word " ...............and that word is Retard.

Yesterday I was at the vet picking up my cat from getting a bunch of lab work done. She is doing just fine - but as Max and I were waiting for the bill - the gal at the front desk was talking about driving somewhere and how she is " navigationally retarded ". My heart did a flip and I had something like a hot flash and my hand went right over my heart and I gasped. As I was beginning to say something to her she then continued to say it AGAIN in the next sentence!
So I said - " Everytime I hear that word I feel very uncomfortable" and she looked at me and you could see that she immediately realized what she was saying.
We were just ooing and ahhhing over how cute Max was and then in the next breath out came the word retarded....twice.
I must say it was surreal.

She apologized and had a hard time looking at me in the eyes. I told her that I understand that she didn't mean anything by it and that in our culture we don't realize how the word is really hurtful to a group of people that cannot even defend themselves. It felt good to say that. It's hard to know exactly how to bring it up. Because I still have issues with wanting everyone to like me - and not wanting to create conflict ( I know this is surprising to some of you! )
And I don't want to come off as an ass - or be mean - or be over bearing. I just want to tell people how I feel when I hear that word and try to use that moment as a way to share what that word is and how it hurts.

There have been times - since Max was born - that people have used the words "retard" or "retarded" and I had to really think to myself - is this the place or time to say something?
And there have been times - when it was not.

At the park in the middle of a playgroup someone said it and I was too stunned to know what to do.

At an AA meeting two people at the same meeting shared about how retarded they were feeling in their lives and again, not sure how to deal with that. I felt it was inappropriate to tell someone how to share at a meeting.

A gal walked into a meeting wearing a t-shirt that read " borderline retarded but not that stupid. " I had never met her before and decided that the best solution for me was to wait and get to know her since she would be going there regularly. I figured she could meet Max and get to know him and then I could talk to her about it once we had more of a friendship.

This morning I read an article written by John C McGinley. He writes on this topic so well that I felt the need to share it here. Please click on the link and read it. Pass it on to someone else.

Max has been helping me to evolve as a human. And I have a feeling that he might be helping you out there as well.

People have asked me what word to use if you want to still make a certain kind of point but don't want to use the r-word. I've replaced the r-word with the word "ridiculous".
Do you have any thoughts on what word might be used instead??

Here - read this - let me know what you think.....


To Love Endlessly said...

Thanks for sharing that article. I hadn't seen it before. I re-posted it on FB. I've caught myself before not knowing what to say in some situations too, but I've found the more I stand up the easier it gets. I use ridiculous or silly as well. :-)

Patsy said...

Dear Catherine, I enjoy reading your blog on my phone as I give Rosemary her nighttime bottle (yes, she still gets one bottle a day before bed, despite what the pediatrician & daycare recommend...:) and I felt compelled to haul my butt down to the desk computer so I could leave you a comment...

You and Max and your whole family are radical, rich, and rare. You are now relabled as royal, ravishing, and RELEVANT.

As far as how you hand'ed all your encounters that you shared, where DO you find the patience & forgiveness? That said, your comment about your inner dialogue about "being liked" makes me want to remind you that what I like in you is that you command respect for your family -- but you're so gentle about it it kind of blows my mind. many hugs to you & yours. :) -Patsy

rawqueen said...

Thank you for the post. And for your courage. It is crucial in these times to know when to speak up. So glad you did. I have made this mistake and taken for granted how it might hurt others. Which is kinda ironic considering that my father was in a wheel chair for 20 years of his life. Although, I don't recall this term being used in his direction, I did hear a host of mean terminology over the years. Definitely hurtful. I am more conscious of such speech now, thank you. Your photos are full of joy. More life, love and laughter...