I got out of bed this morning, although perhaps a bit more gingerly than I did in my younger days.
Yes, these exercise routines leave me a little more sore, for a whole lot longer.
But I’ve always been able to walk, and move, and get pretty much anywhere I’ve needed to go. I’ve rarely, if ever, been impeded by a curb instead of a ramp, a set of stairs instead of an elevator, a door not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, a public restroom without a wide handicapped accessible stall, or a parking space not close enough to a store that would help if I’m limited by a wheelchair, crutches, or an invisible illness that prevents me from walking longer distances.
Ableism isn’t as malicious as sexism or racism, but it can be just as insidious. Because many of us who are able-bodied are incredibly oblivious to the hardships of those who are not.
When we park in a handicapped space for just a minute, we may be making it 100 times harder for someone who needs that space for their van with a ramp. Or it could be someone who uses crutches or a cane, or has a heart condition.
Or maybe you park too close to the corner and block the ramp that leads out to the street. Those ramps have become quite convenient when you’re pushing a baby carriage (or even pulling your rolling luggage), but for those who use wheelchairs, they’re not just a convenience, they’re an absolute necessity. Parking in front of them forces someone to try and negotiate a curb, sometimes to disastrous results.
And this is the thing about being able-bodied. It’s not promised to any of us, and can be taken away in the blink of an eye, by an accident, a disease — or simply by growing old.
I’ve recently had several conversations with a close friend who lives in a beautiful two-story house in the suburbs. But she has expressed misgivings about living out her retirement years in this place. Her knees are already bothering her, sometimes giving out, when she goes down the stairs, and she’s dreaming of a nice ranch house somewhere in her future.
Swampscott, and other surrounding communities are already amassing plans for older people to be able to “age in place.”
Those two and three-story houses are wonderful when you’re younger. Running up and down the stairs is only a mild annoyance, if you think about it at all.
But what happens when you, or your partner, suffer a catastrophic illness, like a stroke? Suddenly you’re negotiating stairs, and ramps, wider doorways, maybe lower counter tops.
And it doesn’t even have to be as traumatic as that.
The aging baby boomer population alone should start to become more mindful of how “ableist” and oblivious we are, and how that will impede us in the future.
Thankfully, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all areas open to the general public. But can you believe that didn’t become the law until 1990?
There are still places that aren’t open to all, because they’re not designed with all in mind — those of us who need assistance to get around, as well as those of us who are ambulatory.
We’re getting older, people. Some of us will need assistance in the future. But even if we blessedly don’t, we can’t keep being oblivious to the needs of those who need accommodation now.
This particular “ism” is less recognizable, but may be easier to fix. All we have to do is pay attention — and think about someone else’s needs besides our own.
Cheryl Charles is former News Editor at the Daily Item in Lynn, Mass. This was used with her permission. She can be reached at email@example.com
Solving the world's problems of crime, violence and poverty really isn't that hard. It all boils down to just one thing. I agree with Robert Fulghum, author of the book "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN." He states, "These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat."
He noted a few other basics, and observed, "Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living."
There really is enough here on earth for everybody to have everything they need. There’s enough land for everybody to have food and if we clean up the mess as we make it, we’ll all have enough clean water. These basic instructions, the things that we learned in kindergarten, really work. But the number one thing, if we all did it, would get rid of every single problem we have: “Share everything.” Just share. It’s so simple. If I have something you need, I give it to you and if you have something I need, you give it to me. We trade, we share, we exchange, we take turns, we make sure everybody has enough. How hard is that?
Well, the reason it’s been made to seem hard is because we have been given the false idea that there’s not enough for everybody. Not enough? Of course there is enough. There is enough for everybody to have what they need. So, why are some people thinking they have to hold on to more than they need for themselves? What makes them not want to give to others a share in what the Earth has really given all of us for absolutely free? The earth is abundant, there is enough for all. So why are some wealthy and others poor? Because some people didn't learn that Kindergarten rule of how to share. That’s what WEALTH is: Withholding Everyone’s Abundance, Letting Them Hurt.
In a Kindergarten classroom, what would the teacher say to a student who took all the toys out of the toy box and wouldn’t let any of the other students touch them, but instead kept yelling “Mine! Mine!” That student would need to be taught to share.
That really is the key to everything. We don’t even need a monetary system because the people who print the money hold all of it. They make it so that a lot of people who need money to buy things can’t get any of it. That causes some people to believe they have to steal money to buy what they need. But what if we didn't use money at all? What if we just decided to share?
If you’re a Star Trek fan you probably noticed that in future Earth, there is no more need for money. Everyone is provided what they need. There are no more wars on Earth. There is no poverty. That's what the vision of Earth's future is, according to the Star Trek series. And I believe that we are going to get to that point. Eventually, we will create a system that provides for everyone's needs.
If you believe the predictions of many of the worlds major religions, after a period of turmoil, the Earth will experience 1,000 years of peace. That means we’re going to get through this time of conflict and eventually learn how to get along, in order to get to that 1,000 years of peace. The question is, what are the steps to get us there? How do we acquire a state of mind in which we choose to share?. Other species on the planet have already mastered this ability. Look at the bees . They all work to produce honey for the hive and nobody’s punching a clock, nobody’s cashing a check. They all just contribute to the collective work that’s needed for the community and everybody's needs are taken care of. This is what we human beings will eventually learn how to do: just contribute to the collective good with our skills and our time and what we need for our survival will be shared with us.
This a simple thing and it’s very doable. So what is keeping us from doing what the bees have already demonstrated so effectively? What is it we're failing to do that we learned in Kindergarten?
We forgot this simple lesson: If you take all the toys for yourself and won't let anybody play with them, people won't like you and you won't have any fun all by yourself. It's better when everybody can play and nobody is mad or sad or crying. Whatever you have, it's better to share.
So, government leaders, business leaders, religious leaders, citizens of every community in every nation, let's all review our Kindergarten lesson, and pay attention this time, so we can get it right.
Naimah Latif is Executive Producer of the Female Solution Global Radio TV Show, heard daily on the ON AIR Radio Network page, and live at www.blogtalkradio.com/the-female-solution.