The one good thing about Facebook’s news feed turning in to clickbait is that I no longer have to look at inspiration porn news stories that objectify people with disabilities in order to show the extreme kindness of the person who treated them in a patronizing manner. Unfortunately there are plenty of those stories all over the rest of the internet.
I’m sure I’d be preaching to the choir on my friends list so this public service announcement is going public:
People with disabilities are capable of Googling themselves. People with disabilities are capable of feeling hurt, angry and embarrassed.
People with disabilities do not exist to inspire “normal” people with all the obstacles and challenges they’ve faced and overcome. People with disabilities do not exist so that when they’re treated with basic human decency “normal” people can feel all warm and fuzzy about it.
Of course you should be kind to people with disabilities, just like you should be kind to all people but allow me to share my perspective on what kindness is and what kindness isn’t.
Kindness is not allowing that disabled boy on the other team to score a winning basket so that you can be hailed as a hero on social media. Kindness is not laughing about the way that disabled woman decorated your cake and upon being informed that the girl has a disability, telling Facebook all about how you were nice enough to accept the cake and thank the woman for doing her job. Kindness is not telling Yahoo News all about how you took the disabled girl to prom when no one else would.
Kindness would be giving the disabled boy on the other team a high five and congratulating him on a game well played, regardless of whether or not he won or lost. Kindness would be genuinely thanking that disabled woman for decorating your cake, giving her a warm smile and wishing her a good day. Kindness would be taking the time to get to know that disabled girl you brought to prom, showing an interest in her as a person, not just her disability,
Kindness would be acknowledging that that girl made your night as special as you made hers, that you had a good time with her. It’s not just something you would have to say just to be nice either.
Disabled people are capable of being kind, intelligent, funny and interesting. You can enjoy spending time with them because they’re fun to be around, not just because you get a feeling of gratification out of being “nice.”
If you do all those things you may not get a bunch of Facebook likes and your name may not appear on Yahoo News but you will be doing something that is truly kind.