I’m on a large number of mailing lists and I enjoy most of them. Some of them are gardening related…some are quilt related…some are canning & preserving related…some are butterfly lists…and on and on.
I’m what’s called a “lurker” on most of these lists because although I have an interest in the topic, I’m usually not knowledgeable enough about the subject matter to help…so I don’t post…therefore I’m a lurker. 🙂
First, let me say that I’m the parent of a disabled son so I may be a little more sensitive to negative attitudes toward the handicapped than someone else. I’m also probably more aware of their rights.
Over the last few days on one of these lists (no, I won’t name it), there’s been a lot of discussion about the use of wheelchairs & scooters at public/private events such as International Quilt Festival in Houston. Some of the people on the list I’m referring to (and we’ll just call it “the list”) have been somewhat outspoken against allowing these mobility devices to be used in such places. My comments to follow have been put into my own words so they’re not exactly as written on the list.
There was talk of people who use wheelchairs/scooters being rude and then someone posted about some people using scooters just because they were too overweight to walk and then someone else went so far as to wonder why an overweight woman didn’t do anything about it?
I’d like to suggest that if someone in a wheelchair/scooter was/is rude…they’re that way at home and not just in public. The mobility device didn’t make them that way. And not all ambulatory people are sweet & kind. Some of them are downright rude. Rude people are rude….wherever they are….nice people are nice….wherever they are.
Commenting on the obese woman in the scooter…as an RN I know there are many medical conditions that can contribute to obesity. It’s not always a bend the arm at the elbow and insert the fork in the mouth kind of problem and to automatically assume that overeating is the reason is just not nice. And then to suggest (as was done) that the large woman in the scooter should have weight loss surgery was out of line and it was insensitive.
Some of the list members have suggested that certain times of the day be set aside for wheelchair/scooter festival goers and limit their attendance to those time frames. Some suggested wheelchair/scooter lanes be set up in front of the quilts for them. The lane might not be such a bad idea except it would restrict the viewability of the quilts for non-handicapped people and that doesn’t seem quite fair either.
I thought about this topic for a long time and finally got up the nerve to send a response to the list about it. I was nice but guess what??? My post didn’t make it to the list so I can’t help but think it was removed by the list owner. Maybe it was just one of those cyber-anomolies but I’m thinking not.
In my response, I said this (and I can post my response here because I wrote it…sections were edited that might reveal the name of the list)
“I’m a lurker who usually loves reading this list because I’ve gleaned some valuable knowledge that I can translate ————— (unfortunately I don’t have enough experience to help anyone). Our goal is for me to —————one day.
I have to agree with ———- and I know many of you are probably tired of this topic already so I apologize for chipping in. I am especially disappointed in comments made by what I believe to be one of the leaders of this list. I’m not trying to flame a fire but this is my perception.
There are people with all sorts of disabilities. There are innumerable medical conditions that can contribute to obesity. Weight loss surgery is not an option for everyone nor have I been convinced that it is safe. I’m an RN and I’ve seen some tragic results.
My DS is disabled and is lucky enough to not require mobility devices but should he ever need one….we will make use of it. One thing we all need to keep in mind (whether we agree or not) is that rights of handicapped are federally mandated. This includes wheelchair accessibility. Setting aside a certain time of day for wheelchairs/scooters and restricting those users may very well violate the federal laws.
Let’s all please use a little kindness and remember that our own circumstances can change in the blink of an eye….and we (those of us who are ambulatory) may need to use assistive devices for our own mobility. I’m going back to my corner.”
In closing today, I want to say that it’s very sad to see people so intolerant of differences of others. I don’t know when we became such a “me” society. We would all do well to take a few minutes to pass on a little kindness and practice a little more courtesy.