We live in a better world. We are, more than ever before, more conscious of, and more accepting of differences in physical ability, race, ethnicity, and gender identity.
We have made great strides, and there is great hope for the future to create a world where we can be free to live harmoniously, and respectful of the way people choose to live, and portray themselves – I am very hopeful about this.
And yet, there is still an ugly undercurrent of people who portray themselves one way in public, and another, where they feel the most comfortable, and/or anonymous, remaining insensitive to how their actions will be perceived by those most vulnerable in society.
The road to a society with a more dignified language began with the United Nations, in December 1948, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the dignity of all human beings.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
”Without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property birth or other status.”
And yet, we still have preconceived notions, and quite often mock why someone who “appears typical” is in an electric conveyance vehicle, or why someone can physically get out of a car who is parked in an accessible parking spot, or why that person this, or that person that.
This United Nations declaration was prompted by the dehumanizing events of the Second World War, which prompted initiatives to avoid denigrating and hurtful actions and language.
So why are people still using the words, “idiot, retard, demented, lame, dumb, moron, stupid”?
If we have made such strides to be more inclusive, accepting, and accommodating to race, ethnicity, and gender identity, why are we still lagging in the use of certain terminology which is dehumanizing, and exclusionary to a vulnerable population with physical limitations.
We must all make a concerted effort to eradicate the practice of ableism which characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled.
I was blessed with having a neuro-typical capacity, and functioning limbs, but my son, and many of my friends were not, to put it bluntly, and I won’t stand by silently while others make assumptions and/or mockery.
Recently, on a social media platform, a few individuals used flagrant dehumanizing language and posted photos of people needing an accommodation, and it’s heartbreaking to see such duplicity, and discouraging to see that in order to make themselves seem “cool” they had to target a vulnerable population.
In essence, I feel great pathos for those who chastize, and condemn, because I feel, they are in great pain, and this is the only outlet for them to be recognized and accepted.
On the other hand, we must all make an effort to filter what we say, and what we act on because it will affect others one way or another.
Ableism, it needs careful consideration.