They cut deep into his brain.
They implanted some kind of electrodes.
Deep, down inside.
He said he was excited.
He said he was frightened.
The story aired on a local television station here in Toronto a couple days ago. A young boy, a grade 8 student, had a rare condition wherein his body was overtaken by constant shaking. He dreamed of being able to fill a glass of water. He dreamed of being able to eat on his own. The operation held out the promise that these dreams would come true.
A reporter interviews him and shows film clips of him before the surgery. As the interview continues it unfolds that the young boy, grade 8 and anticipating grade 9, was being teasedwithout mercy, without ceasing at school. He dreaded walking the hallways. He was terrified each day on waking. His mother, who loved him, who's voice conveyed such affection, spoke of her heartbreak as he began staying home, not wanting to go out. The stares of others, the glances that cut, the comments that pierced, well, he just couldn't bear them anymore.
He began riding in the car only with the windows up.
So people couldn't see him.
He lived in fear of students.
He lived in fear of shoppers at the mall.
He lived in fear of other drivers, other passengers.
He lived in fear of people.
Grade 9 and the transition to a high school filled him with dread. He knew it would get worse. He faced his future with fear.
Then there was the possibility of surgery.
He wanted to pour himself a glass of water.
He wanted to independently feed himself.
He had surgery. It was successful. The reporter, playing for the tears of viewers, has him pour himself some water, feed himself some food. He talks about being at the new school and that the teasing had abated. He talked about no longer fearing going to the mall. Mother is relieved. He is happy.
And the reporter ... indeed all the media asked all the wrong questions.
They asked him what it was like to be able to pour himself water.
They asked him what it was like to be able to feed himself lunch.
They asked him what it was like going to the mall.
The wrong questions.
Asked of the wrong person.
Why didn't they ask how it could be that we live in a society that a boy lives in fear of going to school, knowing the bullying he faces because of his disability?
Why didn't they ask how it could be that the we have come to believe that we have to implant electrodes deep into the brain of a young boy in order for him to gain even the slightest bit of social approval.
Why didn't they ask how it could be that the responsibility for the bullying was transferred to a boy that shakes rather than a system that tolerates hatred and acts of hatred?
Why didn't they ask what would have happened if the surgery hadn't worked? If he couldn't pour water but still had to endure the unendurable walk down a hostile hallways.
Why didn't they ask people to think about the thousands and thousands of kids with disabilities, kids with differences who RIGHT NOW are fearing the morning, fearing the bus ride to school, fearing their fellows?
Because he could pour himself water.
And that makes a good picture.
Because, in some small way, they, and all like them, really don't, down deep disapprove of kids born with a target on their back being shot at.