I’d like to share with you a story about someone whom I had known, and had my life greatly improved by. Her name was Jeanine, and she was a fellow co worker of mine at a job I had worked in college.
Jeanine was a special needs person. Born with Downs Syndrome, and a raft of other health problems she was not destined for Harvard, or even independent living. She was however one of the most stress free, joyful people I have ever known.
Jeanine did know how to read and write, she could type, browse the web, and carry on at least a reasonable conversation as long as things don’t get too technical.
While there were a lot of things that she simple didn’t get, Jeanine loved jokes, and humor of all sorts. While not all the time, she did understand, and appreciated irony. And she hated political correctness. She hated people light footing around her condition. “Don’t call me developmentally challenged! I’m retarded.” she would fuss at fellow coworkers who made the mistake of trying to be politically correct about her condition.
Throughout my life, Jeanine is far from the only person with these, or other sorts of challenges I have met. She however was probably what would be considered the most advanced in her thought processes. Her mother once told me that she was effectively stuck at the developmental level of a 5th grader. I can see that.
There was an image I had posted, that was originally shown to me by Jeanine, about arguing on the internet. The responses I received in the thread I posted that image in, truly sadden me. I am sad that my point was missed, but sadder yet that those that got offended did so through bypassing the joy in every day life, and in humor.
All of us, unless there has been some sort of genetic engineering, and most likely surgical interventions, have some sort of physical, or mental challenges as we go through our day to day lives. We can make choices about how we go through our lives. We can chose to live life to its fullest, full of joy, friendship, and laughter, or we can chose to be offended at every perceived wrong doing. There are those that have greater reasons than I to chose to be offended but they chose joy instead, and for that, they show enviable wisdom.
Other posters have asked me to remove the linked image. I cannot do that as I don’t know how to do that here. (The edit function goes away after an hour). I understand how some folks can be offended. And if you are truly, and honestly offended, I offer a sincere apology, it was not my intent to offend. I do have to ask. Isn’t it more offensive to ask me to dishonor the memory of somebody that no longer shares this world with us, and squash some of the joy that her life brought?
For those curious, Jeanine left us in July 2008
-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com