Monday, November 12, 2012

Respect. Change. Oh... and a little challenge!

I had a great heartfelt discussion over the weekend when it was asked to me why I keep doing this, saying my part to stop people from using the "r" word, after being told I can't take everything to heart or change everyone's minds.

Here's the thing.  You're right.  I can't.  I can't get *everyone* to see how badly this word (and other words) sting.  How derogatory it is to say "I'm so retarded" or "this book/traffic/movie/person/object is retarded" or any other combination of the word is to people around you - "over sensitive" people like me.

Simply put, not everyone can understand that those phrases above are not positive in anyway. I'm not sure why - because if I asked you to substitute the word you would say "stupid, dumb, worthless, idiotic, bad, brainless, irrelevant.... ".  If you went to the thesaurus you would see that you are using the word incorrectly as "retard" or "retarded" doesn't mean any of those things.  So, it's a little perplexing to me why people don't "get it" but, in all fairness, there are a lot of things in this world I don't initially see either.  Sometimes, that takes time.

Yes, yes, I know you will argue that it means to "slow down" and you are correct... but *that's* not how you are using it so kinda an invalid argument.

So here is my thing... (I know you were waiting for the point) - You're right.  I can't change the way EVERYONE talks.  I can't.  Nope, not even me, I can't do it.  BUT... I don't give up and my goal isn't to change "everyone" it's to change the MAJORITY - and *THAT* is a battle that WE (not just me, but millions of us working together on this) are winning.

Here is my message to you - whatever your battle, whatever your passion - don't give up on it because you "can't change everybody" - because the number of minds you change isn't what is important when success is measured ONE person at a time.  Don't let go of your fight.  One by one this will change.  Maybe not the first time you say it, maybe not the 5th.... but KEEP SAYING IT and change WILL happen.

*Side note - for everyone who really loves to argue and defend their use of it and tell me how "overly sensitive" I am - I have 3 things to say:

1. This is how *I* feel, I'm entitled just like you are.  I'm not doing this to argue with you and I won't argue.  I won't argue because of point 2.

2. If you think people frowned upon you for using the word - you should hear how ridiculous you sound defending the use of a word that could be substituted with an endless number of options. You've chosen a word that has been given to describe a group of PEOPLE, real life, living breathing PEOPLE who are not given this label by friends being mean or silly but by medical professionals because of whatever reason (typically no fault of their own) they have an intellectual disability.  And I hate to be the one to break it to you - but that SUCKS.  It SUCKS to be have an intellectual disability - to struggle to fit in, to not be able to communicate or have friends or life independently.  Trust me, "I'm so happy I was born retarded"  or "I'm so happy that accident happened and left me retarded" said NO ONE EVER. So, it's *NOT* a compliment, it's not something we wish we had.   ***YET this group of amazing individuals are most often the HAPPIEST people you would ever meet. 

3. I am so proud of my son. He is amazing, handsome, SMART, funny, incredible, awesome, pure, lovable AND intellectually disabled.  Nothing else should matter to you when I politely say that your choice of words offend me and PLEASE stop using it and use something else.  If you don't have the heart to say, "I'm sorry, I'll use another word (because I have endless ones to choose from)"  and instead validate your choice... That's a reflection of you... not me. 

I know, I know... it's soooooooooooooo hard to be RESPECTFUL.  I know, such a crazy, novel concept.  To be polite, to respect the people around you, to be... oh what is that word... it starts with a "p".... it's on the tip of my tongue.... oh yes - POSITIVE!   Such  total craziness to be positive, to be respectful, to be complimentary instead of insulting.  Seriously.  Why would anyone.... NOT WANT TO LIVE THEIR LIVE THAT WAY?  Try it.  No, I'm serious - I'm so serious - I am challenging you.  I am.

Here is my challenge, be a better person.  I challenge you to:
1. Be positive.  Give more compliments today than eye rolls and insults.
2. Be respectful.  Instead of saying something is retarded (or gay) use a word that actually accurately describes what you are saying.  I'm going to help  - here is a link to the thesaurus and the word "stupid" (because that's typically what you are going for).
3. Be helpful.  If someone needs help breaking a cycle of negativity, help them (with your respective positivity!).  Orrrrr, if you see someone struggling (and we have millions of people in our world struggling) do something positive to help - make a difference, you love how incredible you feel because of it.
4. Listen. When someone says, "that is offensive" or "those words hurt" or "Please don't say that" LISTEN to them.  They aren't the "word police" they are people, with feelings and most likely themselves, family or friends who they care about are hurt by your choice.
5. Apologize.  When you say or do something hurtful - even if you don't completely understand, don't discount someone's feelings by saying they are "overly sensitive" or they "don't get it" or "I didn't mean it that way."  Be that person who says, "I'm sorry." and then (see number 5)
6. Change.  Change your words, your attitude, your thinking to take into consideration everyone around you.  Because, we are all in this world together.  We all matter.

I believe in you.  I believe YOU can do this.  YOU can meet this challenge.  I know you can.  Go now... go try, go be a better person.  We all need to... even me.  So - let's go do it!

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