August 28 2012 Editor Assistance Newsletter
My summer classes just ended, and one of my classmates posted a story for us as his farewell gift. The story was quite powerful, and I wanted to share it with you.
He's in a wheelchair with ALS, and his son is about to start school, so there was an open house. He didn't want his child to feel "different" so he decided to go with a cane, even though it's harder on him. This is distressing to start with, that there are still such prejudices against people in wheelchairs that he'd even have to think along this route. But in any case, he and his wife went in.
Because he's very slow with his cane, by the time he got to the first classroom the chairs were full. So he stood in the back of the room, balanced on his cane, holding his military-service cap in his hand. He's been trained by the military to always remove his "cover" when inside. Numerous people looked over at him and his cane while he stood there and then looked away uneasily.
It was hard for him to balance and he kept dropping his hat. Finally his wife gently said he should just wear it, that it would be OK. So he put on his baseball cap with the name of his unit on it.
In short order two separate people offered him their seats.
This bothered him. He was the same person with the same need. An offer should have been made out of kindness to him as a person. They shouldn't have "looked down" on him as a disabled person before, but then made a move when they could get public recognition as helping a vet. After all, he was a vet before. Just not one on public display.
They had six more classes to go, so he decided to run a test. He walks slowly so each time he got to a classroom the class was already full-up. In each case he entered with his cap in hand. In only ONE case out of the six did somebody stand and offer him a seat. In all five other cases people looked uneasily at him and let him stand there. But in all five cases, once he put on his military cap, at least one person got up and offered him a seat.
Absolutely he appreciates people who support the military! But a person with challenges should be helped without "ranking them". He shouldn't have been more worthy of help because he had a certain hat on his head. And even if someone did say "I will only help out a member of the military" for some intriguing reason, he *was* a member of the military. Why make the assumption that he wasn't?
Was part of the mind-change in people the fact that they could now be seen helping a member of the military? If they were looking for social approval, wouldn't they get the same approval for helping someone who was less fortunate?
There was just so much to ponder here, and it really affected the man. It affected me a lot to read his story and thoughts. It reminded me strongly that we should be kind to *every* person around us. We don't know their background. We don't know what they've been through to get them to this point. Each person deserves compassion and kindness and support.
I hope to see you tomorrow night at 9pm for the chat!
Lisa Shea, owner
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