Everyone has heard of or known someone who has an incurable disease. I myself have degenerative disc disease, and it is incurable. If I live long enough and it progresses far enough, I will require a wheelchair. That is a fact. It has multiple variables, but there is no pill, no shot, no chemo or radiation that can shrink it, dissolve it or kill it. It is there, and has to be dealt with every day, no matter what I do. Diabetes – there really isn’t a cure. It can be managed – but once you are diabetic, you are diabetic, period. Arthritis, same song, different verse. Some cancers, Parkinson’s, the whole gamut of Muscular Dystrophies, Cerebral Palsies, there are literally thousands of conditions that are “incurable”.
But the worst incurable condition on the planet is ignorance. Stop right there – I know that education and information cures ignorance, because they give the ignorant person the correct facts to disband their ignorance. But they don’t if the ignorant person disregards the facts, refuses the education.
There was a story going around last week, about 2 veterans with service dogs being asked to leave a fast food establishment because of their service dogs. This is against the Americans With Disabilities Act, and has caused a huge uproar. The manager said some people are afraid of dogs, and some are allergic so they need to leave. Ok, aside from the legal aspects of this, what really bothers me is the intolerance and the ignorance. As store manager, she is the representative of the company whose uniform she wears, so in effect, the company said some people are afraid and some are allergic, so they need to leave. Even worse were the police officers called to the scene, who told the people they were “blowing it out of proportion” by not just taking the dogs outside. REALLY????? DING, DING, DING, – we have IGNORANCE!!!! I realize there are literally thousands of laws the police have to uphold, but come on! I’ve known about service dogs since elementary school, and I’m almost 50. To further rub salt into the wounds, on the page for this company, the franchisee said it was “unfortunate” and they are making a donation to help train service dogs, and would they and their families please come back for free, and corporate chimed in that they are “matching” the donation. Sorry – they need to come right out and admit that the action were ignorant, caused by misinformation, and that THAT is being addressed and fixed. As does the police department involved. But enough of that.
Cancer myths, another seemingly incurable. However this is actually a very treatable condition, as long as it doesn’t get compounded by ignorance. Then, even the best explanations in the world, the greatest proof and the most up to date scientific findings don’t do a thing. I honestly think there will ALWAYS be someone on this planet who thinks that cancer is contagious……….
Assumptions about people with mental handicaps – yet another seemingly incurable. Yes, I am talking about the one word that INFURIATES me – RETARD. It hurts me to even type it here. Why, you may ask, do six little letters have such an effect on a grown, seemingly smart woman? Because they hurt. My son is developmentally delayed, severely. 50 years ago he would have been labeled “retarded”. Nothing wrong there – the word actually means delay, which fits his condition. But in the interim, this word has been used in a derogatory sense. “You are so retarded”, “Those shoes look retarded”, you get the picture. You have heard it used this way, I’m sure. Well, it absolutely infuriates me. My son has an incurable chromosome abnormality. I used to tell people “his puzzle is put together wrong”, but that’s not entirely the case. He has an interstitial deletion of the 7th chromosome. Each chromosome has bands – they show up on a lab test as black and white stripes. Each chromosome is in a pair – and each member of that pair, when viewed side by side, has the same bands, or stripes. So if the right side of the 7th chromosome has black, white, black, white, black, white; the left side has black, white, black, white, black, white. In Ryan’s case, nope. His 7th chromosome on the right is black, black, white, black, white, black; the left is white, white, black, white, black, white. Its called an anomaly. As of about 8 years ago,, he was put in the world-wide medical databases and no matches were found. So he has an “unknown syndrome”. As thinking people, we can read this paragraph and make the educated guess that he is disabled, and be a little surprised that no one else has this problem, and see why I, his mom, has an issue with the word RETARD. Its hurtful! But for some, its use as a derogatory word is incurable.
Judgements. In the case of decided whether to go get a burger, or fried chicken, no biggie. Whether to wear jeans or slacks – no world changer here. Wait, you say, you are confused! Those aren’t judgements, they are choices! Ah, yes, but we made the choice based on our judgement that a burger would satisfy our hunger better, or the slacks would be more appropriate for the occasion. We used our JUDGEMENT. However, there are those – maybe even you – who use their judgement in a destructive, hurtful way. You look at someone getting out of a car with a handicapped placard and you determine – you JUDGE – that person to be right as rain and in no way handicapped. I am here to tell you, that if that person is me, yes I look perfectly normal – come look at me when I’m done shopping, when putting that 40 pound bag of dog food in the trunk of my car if you look closer you will see the tears, because it hurts that bad. Follow me home – watch how long it takes me to put up my purchases. Look again – what, you think I’m in my 60’s? No, dear, I’m 49. Now take it off me – you think that man is okay? Did you know that yesterday, his car was parked at the infusion center, where he stayed hooked up to a machine most of the day, getting drugs so that his joints might move today, and he spent all of last night in the bathroom from those drugs. You think that young girl is faking? Look again, you will see the scars from multiple joint surgeries, and if you follow her you will see she is much less confident of her steps than she seems. That young mother doesn’t look disabled to you? Look closer, you will see the placard is not for her, it’s for her son, whose back brace weighs more than he does.
That store has too many disabled spots, that’s discriminatory to those of us who take care of ourselves. Guess what, brainiac, we took care of ourselves, too. I sure didn’t ask for arthritis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease. That man over there HATES his wheelchair – but he hates the 4 walls of his house more. That woman, yeah, the one who is holding you up on the chip aisle, she is too proud to use the electronic carts, put there for her convenience, even though this trip to the store will cost her a day or two in bed. She is bound and determined to beat the bone cancer that has turned what should be her “golden” years to an ugly, rusted tangle. Let us not forget that man over there – yes, the one they held the benefit for last week because he is dying, and has medical bills totalling higher than you can count – your judgemental self comes right to the forefront with the thought he sure doesn’t look like he is dying – he is well enough to be shopping, he is just a fraud. For some, sadly, the desire to make uninformed judgements is incurable.
But wait!!!! There is hope and a new sunrise on the horizon!!!! For I am here to tell you that every last condition listed here without medical foundation is CURABLE!!!! There IS a cure for ignorance, there IS a cure for discrimination, there IS a cure for judgement. That cure is COMPASSION. What??? You say I’ve been drinking before lunch??? NO. Simple, unfettered compassion. Care for your fellow humans. When you find this miracle cure, you will also find that the ability to judge others, the ability to accuse others of faking, the ability to HURT others, just melts away. Because for some reason, when you have compassion for others, you want to HELP. You want to stop, take 3 minutes out of your busy day, and load that bag of dog food for the lady that is struggling with it. You want to assist the man who can’t quite reach the box of cereal from his wheelchair. Instead of being impatient at the mother who is trying to deal with a child in meltdown, you stop and talk to her other child in the cart. Don’t get me wrong, things will still inflame you. You will still get downright angry – but at injustices, at diseases that cause infirmities, not at the people who have those diseases for getting them.
Awareness is a key, as is education. But without compassion, the handicapping illnesses of judgement, ridicule, ignorance, and meanspiritedness will remain, sadly, incurable.
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