The Day that Decency Died

The Day that Decency Died

I remember my parents discussing the “concern” at the “handicapped school”.
My uncle was a pioneer in child development and he was explaining to the special education teachers that the child in question was fully capable of understanding everything they said and did.
This child in question had cerebral palsy (CP) and they needn’t speak to him loudly, or they didn’t have to treat him like he was unmanageable.
He had CP and science and scientists were just coming to understand this dreadful disease.
He was fully capable but without muscles that responded like mine.
This child was my age and we grew up somewhat apart because mainstreaming was not in fashion at that time.
The special education instructors came to understand that they could “teach” him like a normal student in spite of his CP.
We went our separate ways, he went to “special schools” and I went to “normal” schools barely eking out an average grade.
A decade passed and after graduation I found myself applying for a loan to buy some real estate and one of the people that perused my contract was none other than my friend from early childhood.
Indeed, he still had CP but had found a place in our society that allowed him work with dignity and had even found a beautiful wife that also had CP.
They carried on with far greater courage than I could personally muster.
To me they represented all that was good with humanity. My highest manifestations of goodness exalted their being.
Their friendships were limited because of their CP I regret that even though we enjoyed their company on rare occasions, we did not invite them to our larger gatherings.
That will eternally haunt me.
Because my educated, “generous of spirit” friends would have understood and appreciated them as much as we did.
My friend died and his death was keenly on my mind.
A life filled with struggle that I have never known or could imagine.

Shortly thereafter I watched in horror (and sadness) as our president made mockery on national news of a reporter that had a similar disability.

Some of my friends say I shouldn’t speak out on anything …politics.
I think of Denny, my CP friend that could speak intelligible words with great effort, understood by those that had the patience.
A president may mock them and those that are not as fortunate as themselves, but my life would be ill spent if I did not remember and honor their existence.

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