It can only be what it is...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The R word is starting to really annoy me

I have a daughter with special needs. She has Angelman Syndrome, long story short, a chromosonal micro-deletion of chromosone 15. Anyway she has epilepsy, and her motor skills and are behind, and the epilepsy and the syndrome have left her with an intellectual disability as well.

My beef of late is the current acceptability of the word retard in every day common vocabulary. I am not so sure how and when it became socially acceptable for a large portion of society to denigrate and belittle people with the use of this word.
My older daughter's friends use it all the time, example,- Bieber is retarded, or Charlie Sheen on Piers Morgan the other night used it as well.

OK, Charlie Sheen may not be the best example to draw on but I think you can get my point.

How does this happen,

I would like to think that socially we have come a long way from the all the other racial and gender orientated slurs for the most part and yet the word retard is constantly being bantied about.

My daughter understands, she knows when she is being laughed at and so can the multitudes of others that have an intellectual disability she just can't tell someone to back off -
That's become my job.


  1. I'm with you. My older brother is developmentally delayed and the R word has irked me for years. I do my best to educate people.

  2. I am with you completely. As a person with a mental illness I am really sensitive to the "r" word too. People throw it around like a universal adjective without considering what it means. I feel the same way about people who say things like: "Oh, that is so gay."

    I also don't like people saying a policy or whatever is "schizophrenic" because they are mistaking it for a whole other disorder and do both schizophrenics and those with dissociative identity disorder a great harm. The underlying message as well is that schizophrenia makes people "bad."

    These words might seem innocuous by those of able bodies and less sensitivity to others but they enforce the stigma of shame and shunning that they bring. Thanks for spreading the education. And best of wishes to your beautiful daughter. It sounds like she has a sweet, sensitive heart. Sending you both peaceful, loving vibes.

  3. What does being annoyed about it do for you or your daughter? Its one of those things that shows you how life wont always go the way you want it to, and has no regard for moral distinctions of right or wrong. This is what real practice is about.

    Quoted from the top of your blog: "It can only be what it is... "

    Is this just lip service or are you really dedicated to this path? Issues like this will test your commitment.

  4. @Awakened Yeti, the annoyance really stems from the fact that my daughter is unable to physically reply or respond to cruel acts directed at or around her. Being annoyed, angry, happy, sad is going to happen, like you state , I am tested all the time -without doubt, hence how it can only be what it is. Sometimes I do get annoyed. I don't feel that it is particularly un-buddhist,simply distractions that come and go. Perhaps I gave the impression that I am attached to being annoyed, but I have long since given up the illusion that life will go the way I want.

  5. This is not a question of regard for moral distinctions or of right or wrong. Although I'm not a Buddhist and have no plans to become one, there is alot to be said about treating people with dignity; whether they realize they have the right to be treated with dignity is irrelevant.

  6. The point is that you have control over how you react to circumstances, even if you have no control over circumstances themselves. At some point, you will cease to be annoyed and feel compassion for people who dont know any better. It may seem alien and not "human" to respond to "injustice" in this way, but that is what the bodhisattva path is about. It is a way of forgiveness, not hostility and aggression. It is not a way of passive resistance, but rather active acceptance.

    Just as you have compassion for your daughter who cannot take care of herself, in many ways people who speak out in ignorance (unconsciously using derogatory terminology) cannot take care of themselves. It is at a depth of mind that you may not have begun to work with, but it is important to realize that all people suffer in their own way.

    Buddhism recognizes that an "us v.s. them" mentality causes problems for "us" and "them" simultaneously. People who cannot or will not accept this will continue to suffer the physical, emotional, and mental effects of their own conflicts and conditioning, and this is why we share the knowledge of it.