Monday, August 10, 2009

Discriminating against the Handicapped. Are you guilty?

What would you say if I told you that I yelled at an amputee on the street with no legs for being too slow? What if I told you that I yelled at him in front of a crowd of people and looked down on him for all to see. Who do think would look more foolish? The amputee, or me for being so heartless at chastising a man without legs for being slow in going?

Well, you don’t have to worry, I didn’t do such a thing. But I almost did…

Only this person wasn’t an amputee, he was mentally ill. Let me explain…

I live with a neighbour that calls a tent “Home”. He has lived on the lake’s shore for at least 5 years now. He is not so much homeless, as a professional camper. He lives in a tent and has a campsite and basically lives like a camper year round. He is very intelligent, and looks like a mountain man, but he is quite harmless. He doesn’t harm anyone, and he keeps to himself and must live a very lonely life. The only thing is, he is obviously mentally ill. He says very odd things most of the time that you talk to him. I mean, who else would live in a climate like Southern Ontario winter and summer in a tent with a "right" mind?
He is always worried about the government putting in microprocessors into things to listen in on your conversations and such. Sometimes, I’ve just had to roll my eyes and walk away.

So the other day, I saw him and said hi. He didn’t reply and kept walking. I saw him again and asked him how he was doing and if he needed any pots and pans (that I was gonna throw away) and he didn’t answer me again. So I asked him if he was on a talking strike (sometimes he wouldn’t talk for a week in protest of some things) and he just walked away and snubbed me. Well, I was pissed. I couldn’t believe that after all the stuff I had given this guy and the things I had done for him that he would want to piss me off by snubbing me this way. I almost walked over to him and was set to teach him some manners when I realized that he wasn’t playing with a full deck. He was mentally sick and his brain didn’t work the way mine does. He is dealing with demons and voices and other things that I would have no idea about and yet I expected him to behave like a healthy person.

That’s when I thought about him having a disability and how myself, and we in society look down on the mentally ill without having any knowledge about them. Had this person been missing a limb or have cancer or some physical illness, you probably wouldn’t be in this situation. We treat the physically handicapped much better than we treat the mentally handicapped. Even though, the people who are suffering from mental illness suffer just as much if not even more…

In fact, while I was thinking about this, I watched 2 programs on TV this weekend. The first program was about the 40th year anniversary of the Charles Manson Murders, and the second was about the 2 deranged students who shot and killed their fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado, USA.

In both cases, you could clearly see after the fact, that these people were not mentally well. People like this who exist amongst us are the threat that we dread every time we see a story like this. A post office worker, a chauvinistic man walking into an office, a high school student tormented by others and many other people that commit violent crimes that don’t think with the same logic that the rest of us have. And they commit horrific crimes against society. They become study cases for others to learn from so that we can better prepare in these situations the next time it happens.

Well, that’s bullshit.

I know that there are people out there that don’t commit these crimes, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of committing them. There are some really crazy people out there, and there seems to be very little we can do to help them. I really don’t know how the brain works in their situations, but I would like to think that people aren’t born this way. I think it is a combination of things that create this unbalanced mindset, and it takes events in their lives to create the deviation in their perceptions to want to hurt people. But what do I know, I don’t study this stuff.

I would like to think that people would be nice no matter what, but that’s not the way life is. The truth is, there are a lot more people out there that are not nice, than nice. And these are the people who are supposedly balanced in life.

I mean, I know that we all have stress and some can handle more than the next and some break a lot easier than others. But, I still think that there are a lot of people running around in my world that suffer mentally from something and there is no help for these people. Drugs can only help them cope with the imbalance and there is always a side effect. Depression is the first thing off the top of my head, and I think we have all suffered from it at one point in our lives.

But anyway, I just realized that I have discriminated against the handicapped. And whether they are mentally or physically handicapped shouldn’t matter. The point is, we should all understand that a handicap is not subjected to our personal belief system, but rather, a person in need of our help. Regardless of our perception, these people suffer in a way that healthy people would never understand. And when it came to almost confronting my neighbour, I didn’t.

I just knew that I was offended, and I wanted to lash out and let that person know that this was not the way I was going to be treated by him. But in the end, it was he, the mentally ill person, who taught me the lesson…

1 comment:

  1. Good for you then, for taking the time to learn it... and not just acknowledge the moment alone.

    The question is, will you act/think differently the next time - and not just with your tenting neighbour?


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