Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Comrades In Arms - Not Legs

He pisses me off and I want to lash out at him. He's, in an unkind description, a leg-less beggar, who panhandles a few blocks south of here. I see him often because we go by where he begs to go to the theatre. For some reason that has nothing to do with me or my behaviour, he has decided to target me for 'abuse' or 'teasing' whenever I go by. Every single time.

He calls out 'Fat Boy' or 'Big Ass' or 'Lump of Lard' whenever I go pass. I look on as if I do not hear his taunts and simply go on. I've instructed Joe to do the same. So we simply impassively go by him letting him know that he has no effect on either of us.

But he does.

He pisses me off.

I'm going to get killed for admitting to this but sometimes I think to myself, 'Bloody cripple'. Isn't that horrible. Self hating language that doesn't feel like self hate, it feels like 'other' hate. And yet 'other' hate is something I fight against. I don't like using that language and I castigate myself for even thinking it. I subject myself to hours of self evaluation because of what I thought but did not say - knowing that he will never bother to think about what he actually did say. Sheesh.

I want to feel a commonality with others who have disabilities a 'you and me against the world' kind of sentiment. Like today a guy got on the WheelTrans bus on his way to a hospital for some treatment. He talked with me and said, 'They don't care about us they just wish we were dead so we wouldn't use up their fucking tax dollars.' He blustered on about this and that and was fairly course in his speech and manner, but cool, he got the 'us-ness' of it and though I thought his views a tad extreme, I did understand where he was coming from. I liked his automatic assumption that I would have had enough experience that he could talk to me as a comrade.

But this guy, the one with no legs and cruel manner.

We ain't comrades.

In fact, I kinda hate him.



miss kitten said...

so? who said you had to love everyone?

treat everyone equally, yes. treat people with respect, yes. but no one ever said you had to respond, give power to, or especially LOVE someone who is so full of anger and hate he cannot see the fact that all people are the same deep down, and has to rabidly poke at the differences.

dave, dearling, you're human. nothing wrong with that. you've decided not to grace that man with an answer or a reaction, and that's still probably better treatment than many give him. he has to find peace within before he can find peace outside himself.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

In my tradition, "love your neighbor as yourself" isn't about loving people who are easy to love, but about loving people who are difficult. I'll admit that I'm not very good at it, because I have the same visceral reaction to cruelty, no matter what the source, as you do. But I think that this foul-mouthed guy is you without the self esteem and the love of other people. It's only his own self loathing and loneliness that makes him lash out. Not that it should make you feel any less angry, but maybe it might help assuage your anger to know that he's in a world of pain so intense that he can't find his way out.

When I was younger and would walk down the street and hear men make the occasional objectifying, leering comment, I learned to turn to them, face them directly, and say, "Hello. How are you?" and just stand there waiting for an answer. It usually shut them up, because I became a person rather than an object. And even if it didn't shut them up, it gave me the opportunity to assert my dignity without sinking to their level. And in a strange way, they became more human to me, too, instead of just being jerks.

Now, of course, I'm older and nobody leers anymore. Thank God!

ivanova said...

Eh. I don't come from a religious/any other tradition that urges people to love those who act hatefully to them, so I don't have anything to say about that. But I do know that it is hard, hard, hard to be treated that way and to deal with the anger and bad feelings that brings up. Annoying too that the bully in this situation is a disabled homeless man. . .

Glee said...

I think Dave that you are succumbing to social conditioning which is to think the worst hateful words. You know that cripple used in hate is bad but like others your mind goes back to primal conditioning. It's not your fault tho. You don't yell at him and that is good. please don't beat yourself up about it mate.

Rachel is right of course but it ain't always easy.

A man here in Australia threw one of his living children about 10yrs old off a bridge in front of the child's siblings. everyone was doing awful hate talk about him but I just thought "what sort of hurt is the poor man going thru to make him do such a terrible thing?"

hugs Dave.

Shan said...

glee are you serious? I'm going to say "in my opinion" here, but obviously I think what I'm about to say is a black and white truth:

I don't care how disadvantaged, how abused, how sad, how depressed, how PMSed, how poor, how confused, how drug-addled -- when a grown up person turns his problems into someone else's problems, when a grown up person harms any human being, and especially when a grown up person unleashes violence against a child, WE SIDE WITH THE VICTIM.

You go ahead and feel sorry for him. I prefer to think a person can rise above their circumstances and make a choice NOT TO THROW A CHILD OFF A BRIDGE.

Moose said...

What miss kitten said. Unless there is something you are not telling us, you are human. You don't have to even like everyone. You can't fix jerks. You can't fix everyone's problems. You don't have to save the universe. It's ok to be pissed off sometimes at some people.

That you want to is what makes you "you", but if you take on the universe you will get smushed, and then what have you accomplished? You will be a smushed activist who cannot help anyone!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
I don't know this person and I don't know where he learned such nasty behaviour. I'm sorry that you experienced that hate from someone who doesn't know you. Sometimes people miss out on getting to know amazing people because they can't see beyond the disability, the sexuality, the religion, the sex, the age, the appearance or whatever it is that is blinding them. You are an amazing person for so many reasons.
If he had had legs, you would have been just as angry at him for speaking to you with hate. You would have thought of another word to describe him, perhaps a**hole, but the anger would have still been there and justifiably so. Are you supposed to feel sorry for him despite his behaviour simply because he has no legs? If that is what you would have done, you would have been no different than the lady who suddenly felt guilty for swearing at you once she realized you use a wheelchair. He did something mean and hurtful and his living situation, or leglessness does not change that fact. We, as humans, like to be with like people, and I get that. But just because someone appears to have gone through a lot doesn't mean they are comrades that's true. On the other hand just because someone appears to have had it easy, doesn't mean they are not. It all boils down to the individual. Some people get it and some people don't, and it doesn't seem to have anything to do with how a person looks.

Peter said...

The day after the person I hate the very most arrived on my doorstep and demanded I do another task for him.

yes I admit there are people I loathe! and its nice to know that others have similar experiences, you shoulda whacked him on the noggin with yer walking stick m8

The Untoward Lady said...

... Even for a beggar that guy has TERRIBLE business sense!

Anonymous said...

I think. sadly for some there is a distinction. I was born with CP and there fore have never known any other way. I own a service dog training business and have found that for some others with disabilities I have run into in business mostly, that there is a difference between me and them. At least in their small minds. I have had a person come to me and explain how she was better then me because she "hadn't always been crippled"
EWWWW Okay after I picked myself up off the floor and sent her away as quickly as I could I realized that she's not the first person who I've had the misfortune to run into who feels this way.
I felt sorry for her for about 2 seconds and that put her in the a** column. And you know what I don't feel bad about it at all.
Maybe it is her self esteem that caused her to say what she did but ya know what it's not my job to have compassion for people who could do better if they tried. So so don't beat yourself up Dave, you're right about that attitude being "crippling" Generally I try to see other's POV but disrespect me in that way and I know longer care to spend time on a person

M said...


I think that trying to understand hate isn't the same as siding with it.

You can side with the victim and still try to think about what led someone there. In fact, I think it might be a way to try to work against abuse, murder, hate - it's hard to fight something you don't understand.

OF COURSE people are responsible, deeply and horribly, for their actions. Given how horrible that responsibility is, it is reasonable to wonder how someone got there, and even to feel sympathy for them. This sympathy does not need to make the crime any less horrible, and can in fact increase your commitment to rooting out hate.

Anonymous said...

That said it is also good and right to be upset by hate, and I don't think we have any general or constant obligation to understand or sympathize.

I definitely support not spending time on people who are dangerous or hurtful to you personally - keeping yourself safe and enforcing boundaries for what you will take on is really important.

So is navigating subterranean prejudice - being angry at the guy yelling hateful things at you is of course normal and healthy, and noticing how your anger manifests as self-hatred and disphobia is honest and important.

M said...

(oops, that was me, "M", above)

Anonymous said...

One of your links was to a blog post pointing out that people with Down's Syndrome aren't all cheerful and happy all the time.
I suppose that respect for the disabled also means acknowledging the fact that some portion of them are going to be assholes, maybe at the same ratio you'd find among "normal" people.