Ok, I may have to stop driving and listening to news, even the “feel good human interest” news stories. In fact, two of those that I’ve heard in the last week had me driving down the road shouting, “NO, NO, NO, NO!”
The first was a news story that a clerk in a chain pharmacy was found helping a customer who was blind do his shopping. Really? That’s news? Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with what this employee did. But is that seriously deserving of a news story? Have we as a society really sunk so low that someone who is paid to do customer service, and actually does that, is a hero worthy of a national news report?
The second story came this morning, and rose my ire even more. The audio portion of a video that has gone viral was played on the radio. Apparently in this clip a girl who was identified as a cheerleader and very beautiful took a large cookie to a student with autism and on the cookie it was written, “Will you go to the Prom with me?” One can hear the excitement in the young man’s voice as he read the message and responded with a jubilant “YES!”. The radio host went on to ask what was it about a girl who is so beautiful and had so much going for her that made her want to ask a student with special needs to be her date?
I almost had to pull over to vent without hitting anyone!
Why do we have to emphasize the difference between the two students – and that one is beautiful and has it all together (or so it looks) and the other who has more obvious needs. Is it so impossible to think that perhaps this girl has a heart and has actually developed a friendship with this male student? Might she enjoy spending time with him? Maybe I am just brain washed from being married twenty plus years to someone who would be considered a “special needs student” in today’s systems. And I am proud to say some of the people I most have enjoyed spending time with through my life are friends who the world labels as “Special Needs.”
Yes, there is also the another possible side to this story. A mom of a student with special needs called in to the station and noted the rise in these types of stories and how they go viral so quickly. In her experience (a separate story) the typical girl who invited her son’s friend with special needs to the prom did it to achieve her 15 minute of fame – and then abandoned her “date” at the Prom. Oh may it not be so.
I appreciate that there are more news stories that paint people affected by disabilities and special needs in a positive light. I pray the story I heard this morning is legitimate and this girl finds she has the best prom date ever and thoroughly enjoys her time with her friend. Maybe I am just too simplistic, but can’t we all just treat one another with the honor, dignity and respect we each want to receive? Can we drop the labels and build bridges over the chasms of differences?
I know it won’t happen overnight, but maybe if each of us stop to think before forwarding a “heartwarming video or story” we may understand there is more than one side to every story (including the fact that I could be off base on what I share here).