In breaking-news-we-could-have-predicted, Kanye West offered a defense/rant where an apology was needed for his recent outburst at a concert where he demanded that wheelchair-bound fans stand up. This is because he is an ignorant, self-centered prick. Also not news. But you know what? This isn’t about Kanye.
Nope, it’s not about him and it’s not about his vapid, materialistic excuse of a “wife” either. In fact, it’s not even about the media and their tit-for-tat responses.
This is about the disabled, the different, the “outcasts” in many people’s eyes. It is about having regard for the emotion of others and not alienating those whose appearance seems foreign to us. Simply put, it is about empathy.
Take a moment to acknowledge the deep humiliation that these people must have felt as tens of thousands of strangers were boo-ing them and chanting “stand up! stand up!”- something they physically could not do. Take a moment to think of those who suffer from these feelings day in and day out. Let that sink in.
And, now, take a moment to learn how you can help make sure these scenarios happen less and less.
Here are three easy things we can all improve upon:
- Don’t Be Afraid. This sounds kind of silly, but we’ve all held that “what do I do?” mindset at one point or another. The answer is usually this: do what feels right. Say hello. Open the door. Offer help where possible. People are people, and we can all use a hand.
- Use Positive Language. This tactic is lesser known, but I think it has far-reaching, subconscious benefits. For instance, instead of saying “my friend Star is handicapped,” maybe you can say “my friend star uses a wheel-chair.” See how that changes the focus? Star uses the wheelchair, but she isn’t defined or confined by it. Because, who knows. Maybe Star is fucking fabulous and that’s the first thing people should hear, right?
- This one is most difficult but most important. Remember these moments and the struggles of others. Remember how much power you hold to help and effect positive change in the immediate lives of others. Remember empathy when you vote on various policies and in various elections. Remember that at the end of the day, we are all only one phone call or one millisecond from our knees; one mishap away from being “different” ourselves. Remember, every day, that we are all the same.
This is how we really say “screw you, Kanye.” This is how we fight ignorance. And, ultimately, this is how we progress as a society.