Our World Is Retarded!

Growing up with an intellectually disabled brother taught me a lot about patience, honesty, and reality. Although it is no longer politically correct to use the term mentally retarded, (which merely means intellectually slow) that was still the common name applied during my childhood. Sadly, the word retarded has now been adopted as a derogatory put down for someone who does something really stupid.

It is difficult to not be disturbed by the horrific shooting of the newscasters in Virginia, or to ignore concerns about the current political struggle between the red and blue clowns, vying for our votes. How can we pretend that racism and intolerance are dead when they rear their ugly heads daily on the news and clog our social media feeds? We have made our planet a gloomy place to live. It seems I can’t help but be drawn into the hatred and criticism of everyone who is not like me. The atheist, religious person, and bigot might be pleasantly surprised to find out that life is so much more enjoyable without the added tension we willingly add into our own lives.

Today, for lunch, I went across the street from my office (over to Centennial Park). It was difficult to not notice the loud disco music blaring from the pavilion. Initially, I was annoyed because I needed some peace and quiet to get some writing done. But then something magical happened. As I focused on the people under the covering, it became apparent, they had no social inhibitions. In fact they showed no embarrassment at all to wiggle, dance, and sing without regard to anyone around them. It soon became apparent to me that it was a party with a dozen or more special needs adults, and their caregivers. I looked at the peanut butter and jelly smudged smiles and knew they had found a moment of happiness in this dark world.

It was simple. They could not change anything about their circumstances, they just played the hand life had given them. Part of me was actually jealous, part of me wanted to walk into the middle of the group and join them raising my hands up in the air motioning along signing the letters to YMCA, by the Village People. They weren’t worried about skin color, orientation, or religious affiliation; they just knew they were spending quality time with other humans. They were being friendly, and showing genuine love to one another.

After watching these folks today, I have a stronger resolve to simplify my life. To be more kind to the ones I love, show new respect to those I don’t agree with, and give a chance to people I am unsure of, and hopefully, I can achieve the same gleam in my eyes that I witnessed today in the faces of these special people. I was just returning to work when they broke out into a new wave of laughter and dancing as the Cupid Shuffle boomed through the sound system. Suddenly, I realized, maybe it is us, (the ones with anxiety, stress, depression, war, hatred, and all the ugly things we create) in society who are actually mentally retarded.


  1. Wade Browne says:

    Good stuff. Sometimes I wonder if I’m feeling sorry for the wrong people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Live in the moment

  3. Anonymous says:

    Very good bro. Paul..Gave us something to think about

  4. emileenealy says:

    Very thought-provoking. Thanks for writing!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Love it

  6. Kim Warner says:

    Beautifully written, very poignant.