Saturday, April 24, 2010

What I Saw Today

I saw an act of courage today. A man of about my age was walking towards the escalator gingerly. I do know know what disabilities or illnesses he may have had over the course of his lifetime, but it seemed to me that his walking was more an act of will than balance. One arm shook constantly and sometimes violently, the other arm had a minor tremble. His steps where shallow and his feet made a shuffling sound as he walked. And he walked, very, very, slowly.

Behind the escalator, a few feet beyond, are three elevators. I could see him glancing between the moving stairs and the elevators. I could almost hear his thoughts as they played on his face - he was making the decision between easy but far, tricky but near. His chin set and he ambled directly towards to escalator. People were rushing around him, he could have used blinkers because the quick and unpredictable movements of people swarming around him seemed, a couple of times, like they were going to pull him over and into a fall. But he did not fall.

As he approached the point where one more step would take him onto the escalator, now his feet were moving very, very carefully and each step only took him millimeters closer. His eyes saw the moving stairs, he worked at timing the exact moment. I could see sweat run down his brow. The pressure of those behind him making noises of impatience, a noise surprisingly like that of pigs in mud, pressured him. He lifted his foot and stepped on. His right hand grasping the handrail with incredible force, his other arm now almost out of control. I saw him rise slowly and, in a way, majestically towards the second floor.

I saw an act of cruelty today. I was not the only person to see this man make his journey, his decision and his triumph. Others noticed, most simply looked away. But a man in his late twenties holding hands with a little girl of about five, stopped to watch. He pointed at the man, laughing. He didn't see that his daughter looked at him with horror. As the child did not laugh, Daddy got up and did an imitation of the man's halting walk, much to the amusement of others around, particularly those waiting for the step onto the escalator.

I saw an act of courage today. Tears forming in her eyes as her father and others laughed at a man trying to get on to an escalator, a child's heart made a decision. Stepping out from behind her father, she looked at those who were laughing and up at her father and said, 'You are all really mean. Really really mean.' And she stormed off. Her father, startled by her outburst stopped his evil mimicry and ran after her. A couple of the others managed, to their credit, to look shamed.

I saw strength and hope today. I saw cruelty and meanness. I choose to throw my lot in with the old man and the little girl. I choose to live in that world. I choose courage. I choose kindness. Even if I fall on that path, I know I will be surrounded by others who have made the same choice, and they will help me up.


Susan, Mum to Molly said...

Amen to that.

I'm so glad that you were there Dave, and can now share that old man's and that young girl's courage with the world.

(LOL, my word verifcation is 'amera' - Amen!)

PS: still hoping to see you down under sometime...

Anonymous said...

What an amazing little girl. Her father could definitely learn a thing or two from her.
I hope for the man's sake he didn't see or here the meanness going on towards him.

Betsy said...

Life is perspective - a lesson it takes some of us many years to learn. You saw a courageous man who struggled for his freedom to walk, who worked harder at it than most of us can even imagine. You saw a man triumphant over his determination to get up those stairs.

The father saw a man who appeared weakened, vulnerable, un-whole, not perfect, barely able to walk.

You looked at the same man and saw two different things.

Aren't you glad you live in Dave's World?

FridaWrites said...

Me too. He probably has Parkinson's. I've frequently seen "oldsters" and other people with walking difficulties almost run over by people who are more able. If only we could all slow down for a minute.

Thank God for children who can already think for themselves and stand up against what's wrong.

miss kitten said...

ms frieda,

my grandmother (passed 3 years now) had parkinson's disease. mama took care of her for the last 10 years of her life...after rescuing her from the nursing home her own brother (mama's brother) had shoved her into because she was too much trouble. (work, more like it.)

my son was growing up in those years, and got to visit at least a couple of weeks each summer. and he learned that elderly people are to be loved and respected. i always loved my granny, but i also enjoyed tormenting her (VERY gently) till she called me names. then she'd laugh cause she knew i loved her.

and i still do, although she isnt around to hug any longer.

dave, i'm with you. i'd rather live in your, and that little girl's, world, too.

Lyndsay said...

What a wonderful little girl. I can't imagine how afraid she was to stand up for the man in front of that laughing group of people.

I hope they all felt a burning shame at what they had done.

Belinda said...

Wow, what a wonderful parable of hope. I am in awe of a child's courage and character to stand up for humanity and stand against cruelty.

How can anyone forget that we can probably count on the need for others to be patient with us one day?

Brenda said...

Wow. This story brings to the surface so many different emotions for a disabled person who is very unsteady on her feet, as a mother of a young girl, as a daughter of an elderly man. Whatever happend to "There, but for the grace of God..."? It also makes me wonder: where on earth did that little girl get such courage, such a deep understanding of fairness and compassion...certainly not from her father. But someone, somewhere, a mother or grandmother or whoever, should be very, very proud.

rickismom said...

All I can think is that this girl's mother or teacher must be stupendous. From where in the world did she get the umph to stand up to her Dad?

eiramyllek73 said...

Pure honesty can only come from a child. She gave everyone who was there, a gift today. Hopefully, everyone will appreciate and use it.

Anonymous said...

And that is why I have learned to say of many people, just the like the Father, they do not and I refuse to allow them to exist in my world.