It is no secret that the use of the “R” word sends daggers out my eyes. Each time it is used, I visualize Bailey and all of his friends that are developmentally delayed. The word is unnecessary and hurtful, but I realize that not everyone is tuned into my way of thinking.
Recently, I experienced a gentleman use it not once but twice. The first time, I found myself in a state of exhaling. Allowing the word to simply float into the universe and understanding that not everyone knows that word is offense. But, then he used it a second time. I left the group to gather myself. It wasn’t as if I was angry, I suppose I was in a state of disbelief. Society seems overly sensitive to seemingly everything, yet we still can’t muster up the strength to gain ground on being politically correct when speaking.
I came back to the group and felt the urge to speak to him. To educate him because, well that seems to be my job. My job is exhausting. But, then as I shared this with another person that was present, it came to light that I can simply take what I like and leave the rest. That simple phrase was like a release. He was unaware that the “R” word was offensive and while that is disheartening, that is his cross to bear.
While I hope that one day, we can speak without using words that are offensive, I know that is unrealistic. Words have so much power. Ruled by emotion, they can wound more than weapon. Realizing that I don’t have to educate everyone. I don’t have to be the self-appointed representative for all individuals who are developmentally delayed. What I have to do is pick my battles and look forward to the day when the “R” word no longer has a place in our conversations.