After a long, hot (around 30 degrees celsius) day i grabbed my macbook and headed to the tram station. The walk there is kind of a maze since the station is being renovated and most paths are blocked by construction sites. I barely missed my tram, so i had to wait a while for the tram to arrive. A woman in her early twenties, wearing a summer-themed orange dress approached me and suddenly started to talk to me as if she knew me since forever:
You know, i’m going to take the next train. I’m going to Freiberg, where my mummy is waiting for me! I’m so looking forward to seeing my mummy, i’m going to play all day with her!
Judging from the way she talked, her gestures, etc i could easily tell that she must be mentally disabled in some way. As soon as i started talking back to her she visibly cheered up, and told me all about her mother and father, that she is going to vacation with them in a caravan next to Lake Constance and that she needs to go back to the dormitory as late as the end of August. She told me how much she loved the lake, and that her father is taking her to gather beautiful stones, shells and other things.
She was so cheerful that i took over that vibe and told her about Scotland and the Netherlands. I did not miss to mention that i am a father as well, who did similar activities with his daughters.
It was kind of hard to talk to her because she repeated most sentences twice, all while stuttering. I nevertheless enjoyed it, and even took an idea back home with me: creating a story-book with family pictures inside.
A few minutes before we arrived at our destination she told me how happy she is just because i talked to her.
“Usually people treat me like an alien just because i’m different. They ignore me, make fun of me or just “yes” every time i finish a sentence. It makes me feel like i’m not worth as much as you other people.”
This went straight to my feelings. Is this what “civilisation” has evolved into?
Dear readers, let me tell you something from my experiences as a worker in civilian service i a school for mentally disabled children:
Most of the disabled people i met in my lifetime are wonderful people. They look at the world from a different angle, seeing beautiful things that some of us miss in their entire lifetime. They deeply care for other humans and have their own wonderful ways of being positive.
When i back then had to transport food to a Kindergarten i was accompanied by a girl with Down-Syndrom. One day, we where stuck at a traffic light that seemingly never turned to green. I began to get upset about us being delayed.
Don’t be so upset! Don’t you know that there is a way to cast a spell that turns all traffic lights into green ones? It’s really easy! …[she starts to mumble a spell]…
As soon as the traffic light turned green she made a magical movement with her fingers and said “Hex Hex!” which is a famous quote from a german teenage novel called “Bibi Blocksberg”.
My mommy told me that spell? Isn’it awesome?!
I began laughing. You’re right, it’s an amazing spell. And every now and then, even today, i find myself casting that spell in my thoughts.
Dear readers. Please do not judge books by their covers. Disabled people are human beings as well and very often one can learn from their way of looking at the world.
Please keep that in mind. And the next time a disabled person starts talking to you, maybe show him*her the same interest as you would for any other human.
We are all on the same (dying) planet. Please be kind. You never know just how happy you can make someone just by treating that person equally.
And please love your children as unconditionally as the parents of these two girls in my examples do. Because the pain of being shown that you are less worth than others can be unbearable. Don’t judge people around you. Make them smile, and maybe, they provide you with a lesson you’ll never forget. Or a spell to manipulate traffic lights.