Many of you will have seen the story about the young choir member who, as a wheelchair user, was left off to the sidelines during a performance. Jan, one of the readers here, left me a comment a few days ago with the link to the story. I saw the picture and listened to the news broadcast and was simply left drained by the experience. What's wrong is so obviously wrong that it's not possible to imagine it happening at all. At what point does this stop being about disability and start being about cruelty? At what point does this stop being about difference and become about indifference?
How could it be that the teacher didn't take notice and take action?
How could it be that those students, to a one, let this happen?
If you listen to the story the teacher says that the student who had been assigned the responsibility of assisting the kid in the wheelchair out had been absent that day. Oh, well - guess that explains it.
I wonder if one of the dangers of having 'care providers' is the idea that 'care' is 'provided' by someone other than me. That I don't have to do anything, I don't have any responsibility for others because all of the responsibility has been assigned to someone else. 'Not my job. Not my responsibility.' I'm not my brother's keeper - but let me check the shift rotation to see who's on.
There is going to be an investigation into what happened. The teacher will come under scrutiny. Action will be taken - token or real - and the incident will fade from memory.
But shouldn't there be an investigation into a world wherein thirty some kids can stand - irregardless of the action of their teacher - by and let another kid be so obviously left out? Shouldn't there be an investigation into the deterioration of the morals, the very sense of right and wrong, in a whole choir of kids? Shouldn't there be an investigation into how a kid whose voice is used for singing isn't also used for protest - 'Hey, I will NOT sing over here!!'?
Shouldn't every single parent of every single child standing, oblivious, to the purposeful isolation of another be concerned about their child's development?
Shouldn't we all be 'care providers' all the time?
Shouldn't we all ensure that when someone doesn't show up, we all step up?
I want to believe it's getting better. I want to believe that integrated classrooms lead to integrated lives.
I want to believe that this is an isolated incident of isolation.
But I'm not sure that I do.