This last Friday something beautiful happened.
I ran into a girl that was friends with a former roommate of mine. We never got to know each other well, but we were both pleased to see one another. As we were catching up, she utilized the word “retarded” to indicate something was stupid. I am quite use to hearing this word daily in conversations, no one ever bats an eye, and it always stands out to me when it’s used but it is so ingrained in peoples language now-a-days that I don’t let it bother me. But this time, things went differently.
Although I did know this peer prior, I don’t believe that we ever had any dynamic conversation about how my sibling has special needs; nor conversing about the reason why the “R” word shouldn’t be used in the way that people always use it. So when she uttered this word I thought nothing of it, but for her it was an error that she needed to correct.
As soon as the word slipped from her lips she apologized. Not halfheartedly, not with a passing wave, she apologized profusely and with such tenderness and consideration. She was thoughtful about how the word she used could have made me feel, and she was unbelievably receptive to that. It was a beautifully touching thing, to have that level of consideration to my feelings, even though she didn’t know me well and hadn’t seen me for quite some time.
It’s one thing to utilize a word that puts down a populace of innocent people, it’s another thing entirely to be aware of the words you use and how those words might affect others. We, as the people of the World, use words daily that might be construed as offensive and hurtful to others. I’ve had romantic partners and friends that have called me the “R” word and have used the term excessively around me; without thought and without tact. I have had only one person remove this word entirely from their vocabulary, my current partner. And now I have one friend who has been sensitive to my feelings on the manner.
As a whole, we members of the special needs community are not judgmental of those that do use the “R” word, and I for one certainly don’t hold it against anyone. But to have people that are considerate and sensitive to the language they use, we are undeniably grateful for you and to have people like you in our lives and in this World of ours. From all of us to you, thank you!