When I first met R, one of the initial things I noticed about him was integrity. In fact, when my mom flew to Spain to visit, I introduced her to him and shared with her how much I admired his integrity and his heart. I think she knew before I did that I would fall in love with him eventually.
This week, I saw his integrity shine through in a difficult situation. In a professional setting, he heard a speaker use an insensitive, inappropriate term for people with special needs. R handled himself so much better than I would. He wrote a very polite letter and received an immediate response and apology. Later, I realized that the day of this incident, March 7, was the National Awareness Day for the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.
Though the word "retard" was not the word used in this incident, it was a similarly hurtful word that devalues individuals. As I have made friends with people whose children have cognitive challenges and as I have become a mom of kids with physical challenges, this has become a much more personal campaign for me. I know how painful name calling can be. But my words can't seem to express my heart or my hurt nearly as eloquent as my husband's in his letter yesterday,
As the father of one such family, I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do for the community is to help all people understand that individuals with special needs have unique challenges, but that they are an active, valuable, and important part of our community. The terms that we use to describe any condition should not promulgate separation, exclusion, or that a person with special needs is "less than" someone who is considered "normal."
Words do hurt. And they can devalue. Pledge today to end the word.
How honored I was to be his wife as I read those words, to know he stood up for other children and families who are fighting to be considered equal. How thankful I am that the father of my children is a man of integrity.
We are blessed.