Thursday, October 17, 2013

A word of caution: Entitlement vs. Discrimination

It is time to be straight up here even if I get burned because the truth is more important than being liked or popular.  So I ask you to please read then search your heart and your intentions and be honest with yourself on where you fall in this issue.  The truth is we all fail at some point and we all get sucked into a wrong way of thinking from time to time, but if nobody speaks the truth then we never catch ourselves and our society spirals downhill into self-indulgence and hedonism.  This centers around my least favorite phrase in the whole world...I deserve.  Or in the case of us mothers of special needs children it is they deserve.  Because truthfully, there is very little that we have that we actually deserve and very much that we deserve that we are spared.  We deserve a chance at life.  We deserve truth.  We deserve justice.  Our constitution here in the U.S.A. declares that all are created equal and have the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".  And here is the key word that I think most of us forget (at least from time to time), pursuit.  What does pursuit mean?  It means we can go after it, attempt to achieve in it, not be held back from trying Note that it does NOT say "life, liberty, and happiness".  That is on us.  We can be as happy as we choose to be in whatever circumstances God places in front of us.  There are many things we may want and that is okay, we are free to try and get those things, but they are not owed to us.  We are not...and here's another dangerous word...entitled to them.  Now we as the advocates and loved ones of children (or however the shoe fits) of special needs see that the world can be a cruel, hard place when you have a disability.  Actually the world is a cruel, hard place anyway thanks to that little thing known as sin, but it seems so much more unfair when your kid has to work harder just to learn to walk and talk.  So we fall into the trap of thinking that the world owes them a better experience.  That they should be able to do everything everybody else does in the same way, and if they can't then they should get something extra to make up for it.  This idea is a fallacy at its very root.  Every single person is different and has different needs, desires, abilities and challenges.  One size never fits all and not all of us can do or experience the same things.  And if one person can't do or experience what another can....this gets labeled as discrimination.  But it is not!  Discrimination is not when someone can't do or experience things based on their real situation.  It is when they are prohibited from doing things based on a perception or label.
And now I am getting to the specific situation that is at hand this month.  Disneyland.  They have changed their policies on how they help those with both visible and invisible disabilities and the special needs community is in an uproar over it.  Many people are screaming that it isn't fair and that Disney is discriminating against those with special needs.  I point back to the difference between what we want and what we deserve.  We want the smoothest, easiest, happiest day possible at Disneyland.  We deserve to not be turned away at the gates because of disability.  And that is pretty much where it should end.  Nobody is entitled to anything extra.  If Disneyland wants to provide a system to make things easier for those with special needs such as sensory issues and health concerns then we should gracefully accept and say Thank You!  If our child can't handle sensory overload then it is up to us not Disney to figure out how to handle that or else choose a different activity that is better suited to our situation.  If we say that everybody is entitled to a great Disney experience how far are we going to take it?  There are children who are severely immune compromised and cannot be exposed to germs (on of them very dear to my heart) who love Disneyland.  Should we tell Disney to shut down the park to everybody else and sanitize everything so they can go?  Of course not.  A Disneyland visit is simply out of the question with circumstances being what they are.  I understand that we all want that magical fun time.  Hey I like no lines as much as the next person!  But (I've said it in previous post about other subjects and it is important to remember in every facet of life) life. is. not. fair.  Happiness is what we make it.  We need to put our eyes and hearts in the right place and choose to make the most of what we have blessed with instead of complaining that we want more and claiming that if we don't get it somebody else needs to fix it.  So where is your heart?  Are you focused on what others should do for you?  Or on what you could do for others?  And that thing you want so much?  Do you really deserve it?  Or just want it?  It's ok to want.  It's ok to get.  But it is not ok to say that you are owed happiness or privilege.


Anonymous said...

very LOGICAL & well put!

Anonymous said...

Great post Shauna! I totally agree...the monster of "entitlement" rears its ugly head far too often, in life in general. Good observation:)