I saw a viral video captured on Facebook live earlier this week. It was about a Chicago teen being horribly mistreated. If you do not know the story I am referring to, you can read about it here. I have seen multiple news stories and read several blog posts since the video went viral. There are different perspectives that have emerged from multiple sources. However, I continue to view this story from my own specific viewpoint, that of a special needs Mom and advocate within the special needs community. In the video I saw four people torture a neurodivergent teen. I can not wrap my head around any of it. The political talking points from both sides of the aisle that has followed equally baffles me.
At first I wished more people could just live by the autism slogan, “Different… not less.” But after thinking about it I have come to conclude each unique take on this story was because someone had hyperfocused on whichever difference they identified with whether it were race, politics or special needs. Each personal take has been turned into talking points that fit their view. I suppose I too am doing this. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the victim’s difference was political, cultural, racial, religious, ethnic, economic, intellectual, neurological, physical or developmental, he was never less than those who hurt him. We are all different in one way or another and being different does not make anyone less of a human being than someone else.
I am a Mom to two children that have multiple disabilities, Autism being one of them. I advocate disability rights and neurodiversity for my children and ANYone else within the special needs community. I advocate awareness, understanding and acceptance for those living with neurological differences because I sincerely believe NOone should be treated as less than another. To be deemed less is to be devalued as a human being. That is what happened to that young man. He was devalued and treated as if he were less of a human being than they were. His basic human rights were violated. The same rights that are every human being´s entitlement by virtue of their humanity. We don’t have to agree with one another to get along in this world. The world could be a better place if we learned to accept that as fellow human beings we are each uniquely different and yet still so similar. If only humanity could possess a love for humanity itself. You know, the whole love your neighbor as yourself thing. The world would instantly be a better place for us all. We each would still be different…not less.