About a week ago I read this article from the NY Times, linked to from a friends' Facebook Page. It starts with the story of a 13 year old boy with developmental disabilities who had been killed by a state employee whose care he was in. The employee had a history -- not only of abusing patients in his care, but a criminal background before that. The article went on to expose the systemically corrupt and abusive system in place in the NY State Department of Health's care providers for the developmentally disabled. Additionally, it described similar abuses in a variety of private homes and organizations.
Unthinkable, terrible, heart-breaking incidences were described in detail, repeatedly. The article shed a glaring light on the fact that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being abused on an ongoing basis HERE and NOW. Horrified and outraged, I posted the article on my own Facebook page and specifically asked people to share it. I (somewhat naively) hoped it would "go viral" and make people so angry that something would be forced to change.
But, it seems I was wrong. A week has passed and I've heard no more about it. Do you know what kept the news occupied this week instead? Basketball. A congressman's indiscretion in "tweeting" some moderately salacious photos. A guy that dressed up in silly costumes to wave to his son from the school bus. To be fair, a few folks did share it, and "Spread the Word to End the Word" linked to it and got about 175 comments on it, but I can't help to think that if the article had been about the abuse of puppies it would have been on the evening news, the Today Show and CNN.
I guess that for many people, it was just too raw. Too real. A friend reminded me that dwelling on the concerns of the elderly, or the infirm reminds us of our own human frailty and it is simple human instinct to turn away from it. Though, my darker side wonders if it was human instinct that led to the abuse in the first place. Darwinism run to a rampant extreme.. and if it is some vestige of this instinct that causes not just the employees witnessing these atrocities to turn away, but the educated and powerful in our society to ignore it.
I wonder if I, myself, would have shared the article if it were not so close to the bone. If it didn't tap into my deepest fears as the mother of a developmentally disabled child -- a child so vulnerable, so unable to defend himself or even tell someone if he has been wronged or hurt. A child so sweet and dear to me that I feel I would die myself if someone were to harm him. I hope that I would have.
But for now, I am just hoping to stay hopeful. Hoping that one day, people that gleefully "retweet" semi-sex scandals will find their way to caring about what happens to a little boy that couldn't cry for help himself. That a basketball score will be less important than our score on human rights. That I can place my son in the temporary care of a state system -- like school -- and not fear that he could someday be hurt or abused or even killed because he is vulnerable, and he is different. How I wish that the world was a different place sometimes.