"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Monday, August 13, 2012

Changing the World

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

When I was in high school, I visited the Holocaust Museum.  It haunted me.  Years later, I still remember the pictures I saw and the stories I heard.  I remember toothbrushes and striped clothing, wooden bunks where people slept, and the smell of a boxcar that carried travelers to concentration camps.  I remember a huge hallway filled to the brim with pictures. 

But what do I remember most of all?  Shoes.  One of the rooms had a huge pile of shoes.  There were shoes of all sizes, that had been worn by children, Jews, Poles, Romanis (or "gypsies"), disabled people, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses.  The shoes were brown and of course, they smelled a little funny.  But when I saw the shoes, it hit me more than ANYTHING ELSE that the Holocaust was real.  It had happened.  Human beings, just like you and me, had worn those shoes.

Shoes at the Holocaust Museum

I've heard people say that the Holocaust can't happen again, that things have changed.  Or worse yet, they say that the Holocaust never happened at all. 

I read this on another fb page the other day and I HAD to share.  The page owner did NOT write it; somebody shared it on her page.  It scared the crap out of me.  In this day and age, ignorance and hate still exist.  I'm changing names for obvious reasons...

 Posted on the wall of Single Mothers who have Children with Autism

So-and-so wrote:

Can I share this with you guys? Enjoyed interviewing someone today for a nanny. She seemed really nice. Toward the end, she said, "I feel like I can tell you this because John's* adopted and you won't be offended. My pastor and I have a theory that children with autism and other challenges are the children whose ancestors have committed gravely sins." I said, "I'm offended that you and your pastor are ignorant and feel sorry for the child you ever care for." Then I think I said WTF and other choice words. I don't remember much after that. It's all a blur. The position is still open.

Anyone else heard other bs "theories" like this one? I wanted to punch her.

*Name has been changed

Anyone who meets my son loves him.  He is beautiful and innocent and full of smiles.  The fact that there are still people out there who think like this terrifies me.  One person can change the world.  Look what Hitler did.  I thought about not saying anything about the above post, but it's not in my nature.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I don't blame this mother for getting upset.  Not in the slightest.  When it comes to Derek, I am a protective mother bear.  I see RED if anyone even implies that he is anything less than the wonderful human being I know him to be.   

I don't know how many of you remember what happened back in January?  There was a person trolling fb pages and stealing pictures of special needs children.  Then he was posting the pictures on his page and saying in the captions that these children should have been aborted.  He made one comment that cut like a knife.

Under the picture of a child with autism he wrote that the child was a "cum-stain that should have been aborted."

Obviously, words like this are not easily forgotten.  (I still don't think I've fully recovered...) 

There was a big uproar in the special needs community after this and many pages pulled their pictures in order to protect the families.  I DID NOT.  I gave families the option to NOT be in the project if they wanted, but I felt that if I removed the pictures, I was letting the person win.  My goal with this art project has been and always will be to make the world see that autism is beautiful.  

Having a child with autism is not easy.  Some days, it is the hardest job on the planet.

But I would not change things. 

I do not believe that Derek should have been aborted.  Nor do I believe that he is the result of some grave sin I committed in my past.  If anything, Derek is happiness and love embodied in a human

If one person can change the world, than maybe (just maybe) it's my son.  Maybe Derek will continue to improve and someday be verbal enough to become a public speaker like Temple Grandin.  Maybe he can make a difference.  Maybe he can be a shining light in a world of hatred (because let's be honest--Derek doesn't know HOW to hate). 

Maybe Derek can help make sure that there is never again a pile of empty brown shoes...

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