Tuesday, November 26, 2019

When Ignorance Comes Calling

We all know them....the people that walk around cursing about our world that is supposedly filled with young people who are "too sensitive" or have it "too easy".  Their sentences typically start with the words "back in my day" before they tell you how men were men and women knew their place in the kitchen.

They forget one simple thing...they are the generation that raised this one.  Point thy finger at thyself if you don't like what you see.

I do agree that political correctness has its proper time and context.  I don't believe we should intentionally seek to offend anyone, but I also believe that historical context is important.  As with the case of the confederate flag, I don't think people should be banned from flying one if they choose to, but I also don't believe it should fly over government buildings.  I feel the same way about religious symbols, people should have every right to display symbols at their home, but public venues should not do so (especially government buildings).

I bring this up because yesterday I happened upon a conversation at work, and during the chit-chat "Mark" mentioned that his wife works as a teachers aide.  He continued on (as unfortunately so many are apt to do) that she deals with classrooms that contain kids with emotional and behavioral needs.  As he continued on (of course) he lamented that one child in particular has a full time aid with him, and yet there are still outbursts.  The last part was the peach of them all:

"When this kid is being bad, everyone has to get up and quietly leave the room.  I think they should all be told to turn their head so the teacher can give them a good smack in the head".

And there you have it.  I won't go into the layers of wrongness that this statement represents.  Ok, yes I will.

First of all, and this one is REALLY IMPORTANT, why do people with this attitude believe that everyone wants to hear this?  Is there no filter which says, maybe I could say something really offensive to someone so I shouldn't be blasting my mouth.  Secondly, the use of the word "bad" is offensive in and of itself.  Our kids are not special needs, emotionally crippled, or behaviorally inappropriate because they want to be.  These kids are imbalanced, or abused, or in some other way scarred and in need of our help.  Third, suggesting that violence toward anyone is appropriate, especially someone with special needs, is ignorant and disgusting.  

In that moment, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with Mark.  In a younger day I might have become irate and made a real stink of it.  As I've gotten older I've come to realize that my anger would not have changed his warped thinking even a little.  I decided at that very moment I would simply walk away.  There is a level of tone deafness and ignorance that even I can't penetrate.

I happened upon the other member of the conversation this morning and mentioned by disgust toward the comments Mark made.  Turns out his daughter works for a local residential facility for disabled individuals.  We discussed at length our experiences and family dynamics. 

Perhaps at some point in the near future I will take Mark to the side and have a conversation with him.  I may simply explain that he can never be sure of the personal beliefs and circumstances of those he is venting to.  I may tell him that for parents like me, its hurtful to hear someone suggest hitting an already needy child.  Even if the comments are made in jest or with a degree of sarcasm and hyperbole, they aren't appropriate and they shouldn't be said.  I know Mark well enough by now that he wasn't intentionally trying to hurt anyone's feelings, but it doesn't excuse being reckless with your words and taking the chance.

Ignorance is all around us.  Even if we have to be called "sensitive" or "snowflakes", its up to all of us to point out when someone has crossed the line of decency.  We have to do it because people like Tyler cannot do it for themselves.

Be well and God bless.


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