Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two Words

Again on a stage, this time in Baltimore, I'm doing the 'luncheon keynote' and I've been asked to talk about Bullying and Teasing. I had a few new stories from my workshop in Simcoe (see the 'hand series' a few days ago) and I sat there looking out over an integrated audience. Most were parents and care providers but several were people with disabilities as well. This should be fun.

It was people with disabilities got into what I was saying first and their comments reinforced what I was saying. You can't fool an audience with disabilities. At the end I got a standing ovation. That happens rarely so it was very, very nice.

Afterwards I went to the book table and sat with Joe. He sold books and I chatted with people. One man, a grizzled guy with Down Syndrome, made his way to me with a real sense of purpose. He began talking to me. He talked quickly and with great intent. He said something like this...

k gddh gdaph gmet

There were individual words there, they came quickly, but I didn't understand him. He spoke too rapidly, his words were illformed but their meaning escaped me. I listened harder. I could pick out certain words ... the first I got was 'hurt'. I listened and I knew from his repeat of that word that he was talking about someone hurting someone else. After a few seconds of hard listening, I got the word 'wrong'. He continued to talk and a few more words came clear, they emerged from the haze of sounds and took shape in my mind. His eyes didn't leave mine. I realized that it didn't matter that I understand his every word, he understood his every word. He had something to say, he needed to say it.

At the end, when he took a breath, all I said was, "You're right, it's wrong for someone to hurt someone else."

"That's right!" he said, clear as a bell.

He walked off pleased that he had delivered his speach, pleased that I had affirmed what he had to say.

Umm, this guy with Down Syndrome, this guy with difficult speach, this guy understands that hurting people is wrong. Then why is it so hard for the rest of the world. Presidents, Princes and Potentates don't get it. People who have the gift of oratory will speak in defending the need for torture. People with the gift of words will speak of God's love for some not all. People with the gift of words seem to have little use for the only two words this man could say clearly.

Hurt. Wrong.


Tamara said...

Sums it up, doesn't it? Hurt wrong. Yep.

A teacher called me one night when my son with DS was in the fourth grade. Some other kids in the class had come and told her what he had done.

He had witnessed a girl bullying a little boy. He went up to the victim and said "It's okay ####, your mom is proud of you."

Hopefully, his peers learned something that day.

Anonymous said...

Tamara: You have a great son!

Okay, you knew that, but I know sometimes Moms need to hear it!

Anonymous said...

Hurt, Wrong, 2 words that seem to so often get over complicated with words like evidence, witnesses that the meaning of them gets lost.

Lets all make sure that
Hurt and Wrong in this context always are heard and always remain stuck together!

Lola x

Anonymous said...

As I have said many times...intellectual challenge does not equal emotional, spiritual, or social impairment. My daughter, who has an intellectual challenge, has a very acute sense of right and wrong. Maybe because of her experiences of being victimized at school...but strangely enough she doesn't seem bitter.

Unknown said...

Beautiful...just beautiful

and i'm about to go post up your link all over the web, pointing at this particular post.

know that there is another passenger in the 'must not stop for any reason' vehicle (it's the invisible stopwatch timing the trip o meter, im sure) and that everytime we have words over my bathroom habits...i will just think of yall and SMILE!

congrats on getting away with peanut butter/toast for supper...THAT feat would NEVER happen in this house! ha!

Enjoy your sunday.

e & molly kate