By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director
I am sure that I am not the only person to be happy (or even relieved) that the election is finally over…not because of the outcome but rather because of the absence of political ads, rhetoric and craziness. I cannot even imagine how our friends in those “swing” states feel right now. As a political science minor in college, I find the whole process interesting (to say the least) but have real disappointment in the many friends who have de-friended others or made disparaging remarks about those who have opposing views. Tolerance doesn’t have to be a party-specific trait. We should all practice it.
And when I speak of tolerance, I’m not just talking about the nation’s politics. I’m also referring to our community…the Down syndrome community. Increasingly, I see people show disdain (publicly or privately) or even openly attack others within our community because they do not share each other’s perspective on education, advocacy, medical/health, therapies and even language. For example: I heard someone give a hard lesson on person-first language to a new parent. Really? They are new to Down syndrome. They are new to parenting a lovely infant who has great challenges ahead…and so you want to berate them about saying “Downs”? Why not give them a great handout in your new parent packet that gently nudges them to putting the child first? Let’s remember that most of us are leading ‘support’ groups. Let’s be supportive!
But it’s not just local….it’s everywhere I look. And it makes me incredibly sad. I have a wonderful friend who is of a different party affiliation than me (bless her heart). If I can spend hours in the car with her on the way back from a DSAIA conference talking politics and still be friends….you can practice a little tolerance, too, can’t you?
Look, we are not all the same. We have grown up in different decades, with different backgrounds, in different locations, with different influences and different dreams/expectations. There is one common trait we all share: we care/love/support persons with Down syndrome. It’s okay to disagree with someone’s opinion, but let’s remember that we preach tolerance to the outside community. Maybe it’s time we practice what we preach.