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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just because you are special, doesn't mean you deserve special treatment.

We would all like to make everyone completely happy if we could. It's a good feeling to do that. But that isn't the world we live in. In many ways, we live in a tough, harsh and cruel world. Anyone who thinks otherwise is jolted back into reality when our house is broken into. Or our car. Or we are robbed. 
If that wasn't enough, we see horrific bombings like the one that happened at the Boston Marathon last year or the school shootings in Connecticut. I could go on all day. The world is a nasty and dangerous place. Not day to day in our own daily lives, but certainly, it isn't the happy, cheery place we would like to believe it is. 
The fairy tale ending we see in movies like The Wizard of Oz or countless Disney movies is just that. A fairy tale. Some choose to believe that, while others know better. 
Does all that sound cynical? Maybe it does. Maybe I am. I like to think of myself as a realist. More than anything, I believe in fairness. You can't stop the world from being a cruel place, but you can try to have and apply fairness when it isn't. That brings the balance back into harmony. Which brings me to today's topic, which has been a hot button topic around here lately. 
We all like to think we are special. And we are. There is really something about all of us that makes us special to others. 
Maybe you are just a great friend. Or, you take in stray animals.
You might have helped someone who was down and out and made a difference.
We all can make a difference, even if we can't be Mother Theresa or Nelson Mandela. It is just a matter of grade.
You might have a special talent or gift. You might inspire the masses to do some great thing. You could be a great leader. You could be a combination of all or some of those things. Or other great things. It could be anything.
Those are things that make you unique. We are all unique in some way. That is what makes us special.
But on the flipside of that coin, none of us is that special that we are better or more deserving than anybody else. When that starts happening, and there is special treatment involved, the world becomes a place where some get more than they deserve while others get less. 
That isn't good. 
When that happens, all sorts of bad things happen until harmonic balance is restored. If it can be. The likelihood is that it won't be a pleasant rebalancing and many disagreements will arise. Not many completely agree on what constitutes special treatment or deserving allowances. 
A case in point is those who have handicaps. When I was young we used to call them retarded or crippled. We don't do that anymore. In today's politically correct world, it sounds like we are minimalizing them or putting them into a box that says "less than others" or "not normal."
Were we doing that? Maybe we were. I don't know. Or maybe we were just describing them as how they are. Did that mean they were less that others? Less than us? Less than most of us?
Maybe it did, in that strict definition and way we described them. In almost every case, somebody is less than another in some way, even if they have special talents that make them unique in other ways. Many great athletes, actors, musicians and world leaders have great flaws that came with their great talents and traits. 
Recently, Philip Seymour Hoffman was a vivid example of that. A man with acting talent few could approach and most envy (the special unique part), he also had a severe drug addiction issue that he beat for 20 plus years but eventually got the best of him. In that way, he was at times greater than most, but less than most the same time. It is just factual to say that. It is not judgemental.
If a normal child reads and writes a certain level, and another cannot because their brain doesn't function properly, and it is accurate to say that they are "retarded" because of it, what is wrong with saying that? 
In the real world though, we know we can't really say that anymore. So, we call them "challenged" or "underdeveloped" or something that sounds more vague and less descriptive. In either event, we all know what it means. 
But what it doesn't mean is that they are worthless. Or without value. 
Every person has value. No matter what level of talent or ability they have. If you view it that way, then while you might help them overcome the limits of their realities, you don't support them by giving them special favors. What you do is limit them and tell them that they aren't good enough like the rest of us and need us to prop them up. 
And then they don't know better, and expect that from you and anybody else they come across. 
In essence, you are hurting them more than helping them.
In that way, what you are saying is that these people aren't special--but are inferior. They need to have special rules and accommodations made for them because they can't survive on their own. What you are saying they are not worth as much or valued as much as the rest of us.
So, you try (in vain) to prop up their worth or value by giving them special breaks and treatment.
In many ways, you are degrading them while you are trying to help them.

It is the main distinction between giving help and supporting them to the point that they can't or wont even try to stand on their own. In a metaphoric sense, you don't let the eagle try to fly when it is ready, you try to keep it flying by supporting its wings so that it never learns how to fly on its own or how to try to.
In the real world, most don't really care about your problems. Some people do, but most don't. And if they do, certainly not for more than the 15 minutes they see it on the news and the day after when they are locked onto it until another story comes along. When that period of time is over, then you are back out there fending for yourself. If you think otherwise, you are just fooling yourself. 
The world doesn't really care or think its owes you a special favor because God took something from you or didn't give you something when you were born. Anybody that thinks otherwise finds out the realities of life at some point. And most days, that is just how it is. 
Just because these people (those with physical, mental or emotional handicaps) have had a tough time, and maybe got a rough deal from life, doesn't mean they get a free pass from dealing with the realities of life. If they are just as valued as us-- just as important as us--worth every bit as much as us, then they get to experience all the same things we do. The ups and downs of life. Why would you want to take that away from them? That is what living is all about.
You can say it is only one person, or just a very small percentage of people that should get this free pass. But if you do that, then you are saying they aren't like the rest of us. They need our help because they can't make it without us. Which isn't true. It says something about those who say that. It says "I feel guilty that I have not been afflicted and feel obligated to help those that are afflicted." Which is fine, as long as those who are afflicted want that help, and also that those that don't feel the need to let others have special treatment aren't directly effected by that treatment. In most cases, they are affected and don't think it is right to dole out special treatment at their expense. I am certainly in that camp.
Most in the world would not share the view that anybody deserves special treatment. Being that you can't protect them all the time, you are basically making them weaker than they need be for when the time comes that they have to fend for themselves and deal with the big bad world on their own. In essence, you are hurting them more than you are helping them.
What exact message are we sending them?

-The rules of society don't apply to you. 

-Contracts aren't contracts. 

-Laws aren't laws. 

-Agreements aren't agreements. 

-Everyone else has to work hard and play by the rules, but you don't. 

What kind of message does that send out? It says that those people are weaker. Aren't able to fend for themselves. They are like pets that need to be taken care of and fed for their whole lives. We are institutionalizing them without actually doing that.

Where is the dividing line here? What is help, reasonable help vs. special treatment that masks itself as support that isn't warranted?
When I was growing up, there were very few ramps into buildings so that those with wheelchairs could have fair and reasonable access to them. We have mostly corrected that in our society. That is positive and fair help. Progress if you will.
But, what if we had to achieve that by completely knocking down tall buildings just to rebuild them to accomplish that goal? That doesn't seem like a smart thing to do.

I know some won't agree with my point of view in this blog. What I try to do is put myself in the shoes of both people on both sides of the debate and figure out what is reasonable.
It is easy for me to be in the shoes of one who doesn't have any realistic handicaps. I am fully mobile, don't have any mental or emotional issues or social hangups that prevent me from fitting into society in the nice hand-in-glove way that most do. So, I want others to be able to do that as well. As long as it is still fair to those who didn't do anything wrong because they were born "normal."
What if I woke up tomorrow and I lost the ability to walk? Or, was in a car accident and was basically handicapped for the rest of my life and confined to a wheelchair?
What would I want in terms of help? Or support?
I would just want a fair shot. Sure, a ramp into buildings if that is reasonable to build, which in most cases it is. What I would not want is to be treated like a child or an eagle that can't fly on its own. I want to have the chance to prove I am worthy. That I have value. I don't want others determining that for me. I would want to make my own way, and get whatever help I can that was reasonable. The same thing all us "normal" people do now anyway.
And I certainly would not want any special treatment. We are all special. Nobody needs special treatment because they were born or became defficient in some way. 
That is just my take.
I know many don't see it that way. I do.

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