I wanted to write a little bit about Emma Sage and how blessed we are that she has the Special Olympics to participate in. To date, she has fully participated in sports and activities with all of her peers, but I do know as time rolls forward, she will continue to participate along side her peers without disabilities, but she will also have the opportunity to participate with her peers that have disabilities like her......a way for a 'level' playing field [so-to-speak].
As you all might have heard by now, President Obama made a 'joke' last night on The Tonight Show. Most people don't even think twice when someone 'jokes' about people with disabilities, especially cognitive disabilities. But that is where our society is completely wrong ~ and something that NEEDS to change.
My dear friend Julie wrote a letter from her heart to President Obama. I believe this letter was written not only to him, but for the majority of our society. My most sincere hope is that hearts and minds will be opened by the high level of this faux-pas.
Dear President Obama,
I hope this does not get lost among the thousands of emails you will probably get on this subject. But I want to make you an offer. So keep reading, it will be worth it I promise!
You are human, and even as President, more like people in this world than you are different. That was one of the brilliant parts of your campaign strategy.
However, on March 19th, you proved just how alike you are to all too many people in this world who try to get a laugh out of disparaging people who are different than yourself. Worse yet, you likened yourself to them because you felt inept, that you had not risen to the level of expectation you set for yourself or others set for you.
It is a shame that people love to get a laugh at the expense of the cognitively disabled. It is an even bigger shame that you, Mr. President, did not have the opportunity to learn this lesson before you got on national TV and demonstrated how little you understand about the lives of people with cognitive disabilities.
Oh, Mr. President, if you could spend one week with a person with a cognitive disability you might learn more than you ever dreamed possible. You would learn lessons about dignity, how to stand in the face of injustice, prejudice and discrimination and get back up day after day to prove you are worthy and valuable member of society. As an African American you may think you have experienced a great deal of this. I invite you to learn about it from the perspective of one who lives it day in and day out.
So, here is my offer. The next time you and your family decide to take a little vacation over to Camp David. Invite my 9-year-old daughter to come along. We don't live far and I can guarantee you, if you let her, Emily will teach you more in one week or probably one day than you have learned in 47 years. She will teach you lessons about the value of human life, the ability to stand in the face of injustice and move forward with dignity and pride, and she will teach you and your family about love, kindness and acceptance of people - no matter their race, religion or dare I say their cognitive ability. For, she has taught this to me. You see, Mr. President, I was a person who valued high education and status as proof of a person's worth in the world. Then nine years ago a little person came into my life that changed everything about how I look at, judge and value the human race.
Mr. President, if you accept my offer you will learn that it is not about putting others down to lift yourself up, for you will find yourself in darkness. It is about lifting others up, so that they may shine brightly and in doing so - their light will shine down on you, illuminating a path for you, you might not ever have taken.
Feel free to contact me to make arrangements. Id love for you to experience even a fraction of the joy and understanding I am privileged to receive every day.
Julie E. Arthur
Mother to a wonderful child, who also happens to be a Special Olympian
As I read my friends words, my heart swelled and a few tears rolled down my cheeks. Prejudice comes in many forms. Prejudices that are swept under the carpet, or 'spun' to put the own-ness on oneself, are still prejudices.
While this is not a political issue at all for me, I find it quite ironic that the video clip I'm sharing below is made by Sara Palin for the opening of the 2009 Special Olympics. This is not about politics....this is about humanity.
Pope John Paul II said a basic moral test of a society can be found in the way it treats its most vulnerable members.
Let us all remember that words are powerful........