Spread the Word to End the Word

"What word?" You may ask. Well, for many of my friends and I in the education major, this word is a sin in our book. It is degrading and ignorant, and always hurts someone's feelings. Guaranteed you have someone in your life that has been called this word, or who knows someone who has been called this word. The word comes with a history, as it used to be appropriate. But just like most stereotype words, it became a slang term. Once a word is used as a derogatory slang term to others, it is no longer of use to you. Simply take it out of you vocabulary. So the word, I may answer, is retard. In any shape, tense, or form, is no longer appropriate. Any use of the word towards a friend, coworker, parent, or sibling is uncalled for. Not only will you hurt the feelings of the person on the receiving end, but it is terribly degrading to those other humans who may be medically classified as having a disability. 

The world has started to try and stray away from certain phrases, such as "That's gay!" and other terms that are not necessarily okay for me to write on my little internet home. This is great, it means our generation is finally waking up to the ignorance we have been brainwashed into thinking over the years. However, the work isn't over people... I think we all could promise ourselves to be a little more considerate before we speak and use words that are not politically or morally correct.

That, my dears, is why Spread the Word to End the Word day was created. As a special educator, I have the chance to work with students who have disabilities everyday. Disabilities range from a small learning problem like information retention, to large problems that can involve the physical or mental body not functioning properly. Did you know that depression can even be considered a disability to some people? I bet you know more people than not that struggle with their own disabilities. So, why not get rid of the degrading talk of retard in your life?

When I was in high school, I had the chance to work with some special needs peers that really opened my eyes to seeing the diversity in humans. It has always seemed to me that those in life that are unable to communicate or move or think as I can are actually stronger than I am! Take it from me personally. I have had surgeries on both of my feet making it impossible to walk  for a couple months. The small experience of having to depend on others and also being quite incapable to do things on my own made me realize just how weak I really was. I truly rely on my independence and my mobility. Seeing my independent nature as always a strength, becoming temporarily handicapped put my life into perspective. It is those of us who have to deal with going the long way around to find a ramp who are strong, and patient. Those of us who can handle people staring at a disfigurement who are the most confident. It is those of us who have to try hard in school, to think, who are the best students. It is those of us who have to work to communicate who are the most literate. Working with people throughout my life who may not be able to do things the ordinary way because of a way they were born, or came upon in an accident, has truly blessed me. Although I cannot say I will ever be able to emulate their kindness, or strength, or patience, I would like to think that just being around people with disabilities has rubbed off some of these great characteristics at least a little bit.

So yeah, I get bugged when I hear anyone use the R-word. I get bugged when people hit their chests in such a way to call someone the R-word. I get bugged when someone refers to another as "downs" or "lame" or "slow". Because, if you really knew anyone with a disability that classified as any of those names, you would think twice about saying such things. It just proves to me that you have not experienced a friendship with someone different than you.

Let's face it, we are all different. We all have struggles. So why should we bring attention to each other's hardships? We were sent here to help each other out, after all. & in my eyes, the strongest of humans show their face and smile at adversity. 


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