All around the world, people are determined to be less than human. Women and girls are treated as property to be sold. Or killed. Ethnic minorities are annihilated. Groups are literally clawing their way into power so they can dictate how others may live. There is always someone who is seen as less than deserving.
Those are examples that I see in the news. They are distant. Yes, I suffer from NIMBY syndrome sometimes. But if you recognize the name Malala, you know that these atrocities are happening…daily.
In my own backyard, today marks a day of shame. Most of you have probably never heard of Issy Stapleton. Issy has a severe form of Autism. Last year, her mother decided the best course of action was to murder Issy and herself. She did not succeed. The mother is in jail, having pled down to child abuse a few weeks ago. A major media figure is interviewing her today. The mother is a victim in his view, because Issy is too much to take care of.
The way it works in my city, attempted murder is attempted murder. There may be extenuating circumstances, but it’s still attempted murder. Why then is the mother receiving so much sympathy and recognition? Because Issy has a disability.
People with disabilities are often seen as “less than.” Less than capable. Less than worthy. Less than valuable. Less than necessary. Less than human.
Yes, this family needs support. The services that Issy needs aren’t available. It’s not just Issy. I know my city fails at meeting the needs of people with disabilities. I know that many schools feel it is appropriate to request a parent to medicate their child into compliance rather than figure out what the child really needs.
We have failed. In our eagerness to create equality, we have left our most vulnerable behind. In our rush to make “more” out of people, we have discarded those we don’t feel have value. Every life has value.
Now think about what you can do. Take some time out of your day and look at your neighbors. How many of their names do you know? You can effect change. Reach out to others and develop real, live friendships instead if sending virtual hugs. Don’t be afraid to say hello. Sometimes, just knowing that a person cares is enough. Other times, knowing you can reach out and ask for help is a treasure.
Don’t try to put yourself in the mother’s shoes. Issy is the victim. Issy is reaching out the only way she knows how. Can you hear her?