“In this world,
Hate never yet has dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.”

My younger brother (John) had brought me to one of his “Best Buddies” events, a companionship program for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. We pulled up to the front of the building where the event was being held, and he stopped the car. “Nick there is something I have to tell you. These people are just the way that they are. You have to just decide before you go in there – whether or not you are going to accept them and love them as they are … because they can’t change and there’s nothing you can do that is going to make them be any different.”

It was not something totally unexpected for bringing in a first timer to an event for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. For me it has always been the case that people with such obvious handicaps as Down-syndrome have easily escaped my judgment and blame for transgressions. I could never see myself being anything but loving and accepting of them. It seems to be another story entirely though with people I consider “normal,” the vast majority of whom at any moment may do or say something sparking my condemnation or blame.

I could no longer reconcile the discrepancy. With nothing but a simple label of the mind, there became no place in my heart for blame or judgment and yet with a different label, I could justify untold discrimination. Yet to what degree, I wondered, was the so-called “average person” 100% neurologically perfect, if in fact there is such a thing? And if so what would be the measure?

Continue reading