I went to a movie this weekend and as I'd gone to see all the blockbusters we were there to see a much smaller quieter movie. A movie where the only special effect was acting and where the story was carried along by dialogue. It took a while to get used to it. The movie, "Evening" was received differently by the three of us. Two over 50 thought it wonderful, one barely thirty, didn't get it.This was a 'big question' movie. Prompting viewers to ask 'Why was I here?" and "What did I accomplish?" We all left the movie subdued.
As I rolled out into the theatre itself I was evaluating a bit of my career and a few of my accomplishments. Then I saw him, a guy with Down Syndrome came out of another theatre his eyes full of the wonder of special effects. He stopped, looked around blinking in the light. He spotted his support staff and started to walk towards him. A group of teens came out of the movie theatre and they were all talking all at once. One of them, talking and looking backwards while walking forward, tripped. The others were on him, "Jason, you are such a retard." Then 'that word' flew out of all their mouths.
And struck him.
That innocent guy with Down Syndrome, stopped, looked at the group with terror, tears filled his eyes. He was frightened. Frightened of just being him, there.
The group passed him, not even noticing him and left the theatre. His staff, not understanding why he froze in time and space, kept urging him along.
All the drive home I thought about the movie. Then him. Is it possible to stop the causal use of hateful words? Is it possible? What about MY purpose, my accomplishments ... how come after a lifetime of work, its no where near being done, dealt with? Did it matter, what I did, what we did? It didn't seem to matter much to that guy in the movie theatre.
Then this morning, I came on and checked my email to find that there was an auto-note from Chewing The Fat written by Stephen. The ARRSE thread called Mentally Handicapped Kids is gone. It's history. That hateful bile has been taken off their website. The images of violence have been deleted. I didn't think we'd win. But we did.
Let me stop for a minute, there's something I need to do.
It's an ugly thing seeing a grossly obese guy doing a little jig. Let me get my breath back.
Does this matter, what we've accomplished here? I know from following this discussion from Chewing the Fat to other discussion boards and networks, that once Stephen brought this discussion here - it went worldwide, so when I say 'we' I really mean a collective worldly 'we'. Does it matter?
In a word.
So this kind of stuff appears elsewhere on the web and elsewhere in the real world. Yeah, I know. So this might appear again on ARRSE in another thread, in another way. Yeah, I know. That kid with Down Syndrome in the movie theatre still gets called names. Yeah, I know. While all that matters, it doesn't matter right now, right this instant.
What matters is that a group of people, unknown to each other, united only in their care for people with disabilities, came together and said "Enough!" We discovered backbone and stared down someone who was perpetuating harm.
Surely that's cause for joy.
One of our problems, I believe, is that we are always too much intimidated by what's yet to be done, what's got to be done, what'd on the agenda to be done - that we are so crushed by future battles that we don't celebrate present victorys.
So, I'm celebrating.
And I'm dedicating my celebration to that guy with Down Syndrome in the movie theatre. That shot was fired for you. And if we have the power to do what we just did, we just may make it entirely safe for you to live in this world without being assaulted by hate.
Just maybe. Just maybe that's why I'm here. Just maybe that's one of my shared accomplishments. Just maybe when it's at the end for me, I'll remember this day.
Oh, my, the urge to jig is back ...