‘Be The Change’ … Think about those three words for just a moment.
How can you actively “be the change” you want to see in the world?
For me, this is an easy answer. As a mom to two amazing kiddos who rock an extra chromosome and who are 100% non verbal, I’d like to change the way the world too often views them. Lumping the special needs community into a one size fits all category is dehumanizing. Sounds a bit harsh, I know. But it’s true.
“Down syndrome kids are always so happy.”
Is that so? (cue rolling my eyes as far back in my head as is humanly possible). Talk to me about how happy cutie pie is when I say no to that Oreo cookie.
“Down syndrome kids are so loving … they love everybody.”
Ummmm. My two ragamuffins are completely nonverbal, yet they’ve figured out a way to constantly grunt, groan, and fuss at each other just like typical siblings … This is more like toleration, not love. haha.
I hate to burst the bubble, but in my home, beyond the almond shaped eyes, small stature, and bright smiles are two individuals who have distinct personalities, temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses:
A diva who will size you up in a heartbeat, Hopey is fiercely independent and feisty:
Charlie, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different. He’s a soft cuddle bug who’s a master charmer when it comes to getting his way:
Hopey is mischievous and funny, while Charlie is a more go with the flow kinda dude.
Both will go outside to play for the same amount of time … Hope will come dragging herself in the house with skinned knees looking like she’s been wrestling a couple of hogs in a pile of mud while Charlie will look like he’s just bathed and is ready for Sunday School.
I foresee a day when people will automatically accept them and see them as individuals instead of brushing them with the broad stroke of Down syndrome. When accepted as individuals, Hope and Charlie become human and worthy of identity and relationship. Neither should be expected to fit into a once size fits all Down syndrome kids bucket. You get the point. Yes, both are kids who have Down syndrome … but more than anything else, they’re just regular kids.
I’ve immersed myself in the differently abled community. It’s become my passion and my life. In the process, I’ve made very real friendships with many adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Just like Hope and Charlie, each are unique in every sense of the word. Through my own relationships and experiences with these amazing individuals , my desire has grown for others to see what I see. All people, regardless of ability or disability, are much more alike than different. Whether differently abled or not, for instance, we all love the anticipation that comes with Christmas Eve, how sand feels when squished between our toes, the view from a mountain peak, time spent around a campfire with friends, a sloppy kiss from the family dog, a new pair of jeans that fit just right, the crisp edges of a fresh baked brownie … am I right?
At the same time, though, we are all a bit different. Some of us are born Chatty Cathy’s while others are excellent listeners. Some of us are athletic while others are artistic. Some of us have arms and legs … others were born without limbs. Some of us have brown eyes, and some have blue. Well … in the same way, some folks were born with an extra chromosome, while others weren’t. It’s no big deal at all, because differences are never a bad thing. They’re just a thing. And those things that make us unique might actually be what make us most interesting.
I was given this shirt by Bee Attitudes , and was challenged to describe how I’m being the change I want to see in the world. I’d honestly never thought about it before, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. If I want the world to treat Hope and Charlie with love, honor, acceptance, and respect, then I must treat the world, especially the differently abled world, with love, honor, acceptance, and respect. Through my friendships with the differently abled community, I guess I’ve lived out the term ‘Be The Change’. How I treat those individuals (since I pretty much adore them) is definitely how I want others to treat my two loves.
Here’s my 5 second challenge to you. If an individual who is differently abled is placed in your path, no matter where you are … at church, a restaurant, a grocery store, or a ball game … introduce yourself.
“Hi, my name is Melanie, what’s your name?”
It’s that simple.
Then follow up with a warm smile and a handshake.
That simple act not only takes five seconds of time, but it validates that you see that person as an individual. As human. As equal to you.
I’d love to hear from you. In the comments, tell me about how you are being the change you want to see in the world.
Remember this: In the big picture, God never makes mistakes. And when we choose love, we’re all The Change.
(With every purchase, Bee Attitudes gives back to charities who are making a change. Be sure to click the link and check out their site! This mustard colored shirt is one of the softest shirts I’ve ever worn. The fabric is bouncy, so it hangs nicely. Not to mention … what about that cute message?)
Just my thoughts,