Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Measure of Man (A Soap-box Post)

This morning as I was nearly sprinting down the street (it WAS downhill) on my aerobic walk, a couple obviously from out of town stopped me. “Where is the bus to Jerusalem?” I inwardly groaned; this stop was going to kill my aerobic count on my pedometer, as I had left Ricki’s school about 5 minutes before. But I squashed the impulse to be bothered by it, and pointed in the direction of the bus stop, which was around the corner and across a street. Then I trotted over to the corner, hoping that my “stop” had been brief enough to not be noticed by my pedometer. [Explanation for non-pedometer users: Most pedometers measure aerobic steps, but you have to walk at least ten minutes without stopping, for them to actually be registered….] At the corner there was (as always…) a red light, so I was going to walk in place… until I noticed that the couple turned the corner and was walking to the stop on the WRONG side of the street. I called out to them, but they didn’t hear me, so I followed them the fifty steps to the station, and pointed out the correct stop across the street. Then I returned to the corner (and, inevitably, a different red light…). And really, this is no big deal. Because what is the ultimate value of our life on this planet? Our money accrued? Weight lost? Steps walked? Fame won? Of course not. On the day we lie in our graves, the only thing people will really remember about us is how we treated them and others. The ability to forgo our own (often petty) desires for the good of another is a hallmark of what makes us human. * * * * * So what can I say about what happened a half hour before this small incident? PREFACE: Ricki has decided of late that she wants to walk to school on her own. Now I want to keep tabs on her (see December 20th’s post), so I set out a bit after her, and as I catch up with her, I can either join her or walk around the block to sneak a peak at the next corner. (Ricki’s walking rate is about a third of my speed.) TODAY: This morning I set out to tail Ricki and caught up with her to find her standing and crying. I wrongly assumed that she was crying from sore feet, and resolved that I have to get her to an orthopedist as soon as possible. But as Ricki mumbled her complaint a second time, I heard her: “They called me ‘retarded’. They pushed me.” YES. The evil of what little kids can do. I was anyways planning on redoing a lesson with Ricki on what Down syndrome means to her, self value, etc. I guess it can’t be soon enough. Ricki needs to know that her own self worth is no less, and undoubtedly more, than those urchins that accosted her. And I need to think with others how to create an atmosphere in our city such that children (and adults) will be EMBARRESSED to call ANYONE what they feel is a derogatory name.

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