Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No disabled people in our part of the bus

Discrimination is sometimes described as "sending people to the back part of the bus", as was done in the US South to black people in the bad old days. However, the essence of discrimination isn't sending the victims to the back part (considered worse than the front part). It is merely isolating them, sending them to the part where we aren't now.
Our public transportation vehicles contain several seats in the front part designated for disabled people, sick people and mothers with young children. Unfortunately, this is occasionally used by other passengers to allocate these people only to their reserved seats, while the traditional etiquette orders you to offer them your seat, no matter where you are sitting.
Actually, mothers often prefer to go to the middle or back part, because they fear that the child will disturb the driver and he will call them names or even order them out of the vehicle. This is especially true for mothers of ill-behaved children and children with some disabilities. "Ill-behaved" actually means "behaving like a child rather than like an adult in miniature" and the disabilities I mean are mental retardation and other disorders that make it impossible for a child to behave like an adult in miniature, no matter how much you beat him.
A week ago, I was returning my elder son from kindergarten. We were sitting in the middle part of a trolley bus slowly making its way through the evening traffic. An old lady with a big sac and a 5-year-old girl entered the nearest door. The girl was clearly different or, if we put political correctness aside, there was something wrong with her. She hadn't the focused intelligent eyesight and precisely coordinated movements of a normal 5-year-old, her upper jaw was too large and she occasionally uttered frightened, unarticulate sounds.
Nobody else offered his seat to the grandmother and the girl, so I did, saying, "Please come here with the child". The old lady, plus some other passenger, said, "But you are also with a child!". I replied, "My hero will be OK standing." And then somebody else said, "There are special seats in the front part for such disabled people."
Nobody commented anything. A sitting woman invited my son to sit in her lap. This was very kind and came just in time, because my ill-behaved child hates to travel standing. However, I couldn't help thinking that she wouldn't invite the other child to her lap.
Let me end the post with a quote from Svetla's Feb. 26 post. It commented a charity pop concert urging the TV viewer to donate a small sum for the children in the Mogilino care home via an SMS message. Svetla wrote, "Instead of shedding tears, listening to pop music and sending SMS messages for the poor "mentally retarded" children and at the same time avoiding them like leprosy-infected in the street, we'd better realize that they deserve respect and paying regard to their human dignity no less than any of us."


on the edge said...

Sad to say that this continues until today all over the world , the unusual bring discriminated from the rest , in this case the mentally handicapped .I am pretty sure that this will never change since human nature is cruel to perceived weaker ones .Bless you for standing and offering your seat .

Maya M said...

Thank you. You are quite right that human nature has some built-in defects. Still, I hope we can try to minimize the harm they do.

Marla said...

This is a very touching story. We seem to treat people who need our help the worst. Since we know better we should do better.