This week I attended an even called “Developmentally Disabled”. Going into it, I thought that I was going to be some boring lecture and I probably would hate it. This talk ended up being one of my favorite talks that I have even been too. Instead of having someone preach to us about people with developmental disabilities, Ark of Baltimore brought eight or nine actually disabled people in to essentially hang out with us. I took this talk personally because I baby-sit developmentally disabled children. So when these people spoke I kept thinking that these kids who I have become so close to, could be up here telling the same stories one day.
This really made me think about how other people perceive people with all types of disabilities. Many people jump to conclusions about people with disabilities and say they are stupid or “retarded”. Yet jumping to conclusions only hurts that person or others. In John Ciardi’s poem “Suburban,” the neighbor immediately jumps to a conclusion that the man’s dog has gone to the bathroom on her lawn. Meanwhile, his dog is “in Vermont with [his] son who had gone fishing” (Ciadri 9). When people like the neighbor jump to a conclusion about someone or something, they don’t get the whole story or get to know the whole person.
Meanwhile, people don’t realize that the developmentally disabled are some of the nicest and most caring people anyone could meet. Thomas Lynch’s poem “Liberty” talks about men’s freedom and being able to do what you want whenever and wherever. Developmentally disabled people have somewhat of this freedom. They are almost always happy and do what they want. They don’t take people’s hurtful comments or materialistic things to heart. During the talk, a clip was shown of disabled people being asked if they could change one thing about themselves, what would it be. Most answers consisted of either “Nothing, I like myself” or “I guess I could be happier”.
Unlike in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” where the man puts up a wall in order to get revenge, many people in society put up a wall to keep their feelings towards the developmentally disabled inward. This wall is put there so that they don’t have to interact with people who are “different” from them.
I really enjoyed this event and it really got me thinking about my life and how maybe I should volunteer with Ark of Baltimore while I’m here.