Love one, love all

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

How does it feel when someone makes a snap judgment of us based on our appearance, our social standings or our accomplishments? What does isolation feel like? These are all issues none of us want to encounter in our daily lives, but sadly, these are questions people with special needs face every day. People with disabilities are soldiers, battling against the crowd to show society how worthy they are, to show humanity how they enrich the world and fighting for acceptance.

George Orwell once said, “Happiness can only exist in acceptance.” If this is true, it applies universally, and we should strive to bring acceptance and love to every person. In a nation where we are striving for diversity and equal rights for all, we need to begin taking a look at that piece of our society and ensure that we are doing the most to love on people with special needs.

So far, our nation has done well providing programs specifically for those with different abilities, such as the Special Olympics, the Special Needs Alliance, special education school programs and more. But there must be more we can do. Even with all these programs, sometimes we tend to exclude people with special needs from our daily activities because they make us feel uncomfortable, or we’re not sure how to enter into conversation with them. Interestingly enough, the blame for this most likely shouldn’t be placed on the one who feels awkward, but rather, on society for not exposing us to the normalcy of special needs.

Our society has prepared us for many things regarding diversity and how we should welcome various religions, sexual orientations, cultures and ethnicities. Yet we are still unprepared to enter into conversation with those who face challenges different than ours.

People with disabilities are all around us. Between 2014 and 2015, 13 percent of youth in public schools were under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This study did not even begin to touch on the number of people with special needs who exist outside of the public school system, or those with Individualized Education Program’s (IEP) or 504’s, education plans that can offer formal help for learning and attention issues. They enrich our world with their strength, their passion and their knowledge. We must try harder to appreciate these people and the unique gifts they bring to the table.

Disabilities are not defining, but rather, are a unique piece of an individual that while difficult to overcome, give unique characteristics that many of us many not ever be able to possess. Everyone goes through trials and tribulations, but people with special needs summon up the courage to face their’s daily. Some people might argue that it’s hard to find common ground with people they are not like, that people with disabilities bring down our society or even worse, that people with special needs should no longer exist in our society. This is a mentality that we, as civil humans, need to abolish.

People with disabilities enhance our world. Research has shown many people with special needs have an excellent work ethic and are usually great employees who are rated positively on their overall work. These people with unique abilities often have a motivation and a drive unlike others. They know what it’s like to push through the good times and the bad, and they know that in order to get through these times, a solid foundation of family and friends is absolutely vital. When they are given the opportunity to give back to their friends and family, they’re loyal and dependent.

So, what does it feel like to feel loved? How does it feel to have a place in society, one where you know your work is appreciated? What if all of us – every single person on this planet – could experience this in their daily life, regardless of whether we have special needs or not? Fight for equality, fight for acceptance, fight for those with special needs.