Not only was Martin Luther King, Jr. correct in his passion for equality, I personally believe he was inspired. Even in our day we are still faced with equal rights issues. I have been taking a class at UVU for special/gifted students and am shocked to learn of the statitistics associated with special needs/gifted students.
Just the other day as I was pulling out of the parking lot I saw a UVU shuttle pull over, at one of the regular stops, and drop off some students. One of the students was a girl who most definitely had a physical handi-cap. I don't know if she had "minor" Cerebral Palsy or something else (I don't claim to be an expert in disabilties) but she got off the bus at the same place as the other students and limped her way to the building. This wasn't some kind of a I-twisted-my-ankle type of a limp, either. Every time she took a step it almost looked like her leg bent sideways, her hands were held up to her chest and were curled and held unnaturally. It looked difficult. It almost looked painful. Yet here she was, not allowing this to stop her. I came to admire that girl within the first second of seeing her. But with that admiration came the question, "Is this fair?"
So why do I bring this up? I bring this up because I was heart broken when thinking about how inconvenient it was for her to be dropped off so far from the building. Maybe it didn't bother her to walk that distance in the cold - but it bothered me. Don't people who deal with physical, mental, and emotional diablilities deserve some sort of convenience? To be treated equal...what does that mean? Does that mean we offer convenience to those who have been dealt the hand of inconvenience or not? Does being equal mean to be fair - or fair to be equal? I dunno. I don't claim to know. I'm just thinking.
And what about the deaf and the blind? Are they treated fairly? Are they enjoying the equal rights of those who are "normal" or are they receiving services on their own level of need? It seems we, as a country, have come a long way in equal rights...but it seems like we still have a ways to go.
I think it is marvelous that we are to the point where we can judge someone by their character and not the color of their skin. I have many friends of different ethnicities and I can honestly say it doesn't bother me in the least. In fact, I tend to forget what race, culture, religion, etc. they are because I really don't care - so long as they're a good person. I am grateful for this.
But can we look at a handi-capped person the same way we look at a person of a different race? Let me re-phrase that. DO we look at a person with a handi-cap the same way we look at someone of a different race (regardless of who's doing the looking)? Instead of seeing a handi-capped person can we see a person with a handi-cap? First a human with feelings, thoughts, struggles, dreams, goals, and hopes - second the handi-cap of the person? I feel we have some growing to do in this area of equal rights. I only say this because I have seen some of the looks my adorable niece gets. I don't think those people are bad or horrible for reacting the way they do. They are simply ignorant, inexperienced, and uneducated. That needs to change. Some children and adults are able to recognize when someone looks at their handi-cap and not them and I'm sure it hurts. It hurts (and infuriates) me when someone looks at Mercydez in a way other than loving.
I feel it is the same with the elderly. It almost seems like the younger generation thinks to grow old is a disease and by staying away they won't catch "the bug". The sad thing is, is that the older generation is the one with the most experience, knowledge, and ideas. They are the ones who can teach us what will lead to success because they have walked the road of trial and error. Yet it seems we put Dad and/or mom, Grandpa and/or Grandma in a center and forget about them. So, when someone comes along who will listen, dad and/or mom, Grandpa and/or Grandma are so excited to have someone who cares and who will listen, they talk non-stop for hours. Why are we doing this to the ones who we can learn so much from? Is that fair? Is that treating them as an equal human being? I have to say, not everyone does this and some who do have valid, heart braking reasons. But for the other large amount who don't, unfortunate as it may be, I wonder...
Again, I am not pointing fingers. I have need for improvement and growth in this area and I'll be the first to admit it. With that I ask, again, what does it mean to have equal rights? Is it something that is determined simply by the color of ones skin or is it more than that? Can someone with a disability (regardless of what it is) be looked on the same as an Oriental, Hispanic or African-American?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was not only a man above and beyond his associates. No, he was more than that. He was inspired by God. His influence will be forever felt. I love people. I think we all have great potential, I really do. And it truly doesn't matter if you're of a different race, elderly, or handi-capped. We are equal and deserving of what's fair, right, and equal.
I hope we can all stretch ourselves and appropriately apply Martin Luther King, Jr.'s conviction into our own lives.
I am not pointing fingers and I am most definitely not angry. I'm just sharing my thoughts on equality and what it means or what doesn't mean.
I hope you'll listen to this incredible, life changing video. It's a little over 11 minutes but it's absolutely beautiful. Not many people have heard the entire speech offered by Martin Luther King, Jr. so I offer you the opportunity now.(I believe this is it in it's entirety. Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
God bless those who are "different"!
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