This past weekend, I was walking along the boardwalk in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I experienced Donald Trump’s America. I have spent many days throughout my 51 years walking in New Hampshire. I’ve been stared at – and commented about- many days. But I have never experienced what I did last week.
I completely agree with Live Free or Die – the New Hampshire state motto. Having grown up in New Hampshire, I completely get the politic. I am personally fiscally conservative, believe in smaller government for the most part but I am completely liberal on social issues. This to me defines Live Free or Die. As a person with a disability, I believe that Social Security disability benefits should support employment rather than hinder employment as it does for many. I believe in workfare, rather than welfare. I have always had these beliefs and have learned many of my lessons in life from New Hampshire. It’s because of this upbringing, that I am able to get up, go out to work as an individual with a profound disability. I have found over the years many individuals with disability who have accepted Social Security disability benefits and not tried to lead their best life.
‘Live Free…’ does not mean hate and bad behavior should be the norm, but I’m afraid that’s what’s happening. And, not just in New Hampshire. In the age of Trump, America is not leading its best life.
Just walking along the boardwalk on my way to dinner, I had more individuals (all abled-bodied, white and male) mock, pick-on and inappropriately comment than I ever have in 51 years. I had one early 20s guy ask his drunk friend if he feels lucky because he just saw a midget. Reference to too many short stereotypes. I had multiple teenagers with their parents in tow, openly point and loudly say that’s disgusting. And even sober adults willing to say to their friends ‘did you just see that?’
I WANT TO SCREAM!
When I’m with people, I know that my friends see people stare at me. But, it is rare to get any comments let alone multiple comments in a quarter mile walk. What happened in America?
Recently, I read Here’s Why Kindness Toward Disabled People Is More Complicated Than You Think by Rebekkah Taussig on time.com. I love what she wrote, and I get that at times kindness can be a problem. But after this last week, I’m afraid we (individuals with disabilities) will never get kindness again!
Has Donald Trump given everyone the permission to be completely rude? Are we now able to say whatever comes to mind without impact? Or, is it social media that trained all of us to be rude? Does it allow us to believe there is a barrier between everyone? But you know what, I’m still here. You are still there.
Further proof that this society breakdown is occurring, on our drive to New Hampshire I saw over five cars going over 100 miles an hour. There is nothing stopping the anarchy on the highways. I saw only one speed trap in 300 miles of driving in New England. Has the very appropriate Black Lives Matter protest really stopped all policing? It’s OK to drive 100 miles an hour? And this is being written on the morning that I see another white police officer shoot a black man with his children in the car multiple times? What happened???
By the way, before you wonder there were no police officers on Hampton Beach Route 1A as there have been in years past…
I realize it isn’t just Donald Trump’s fault. He is a symptom of our greater insularity. Even some of my favorite liberals, love to scream from the mountain top rather than cross the street and shake hands. Or have a beer with your conservative neighbor. We all have to do a better job of being kind to one another.
Everything Our Ability, Inc. stands for is the empowerment of individuals with disabilities towards employment. I understand employment has led to my best life. But, I’m afraid all the work we do will be for nothing if all we get from the able-bodied population and society in general is mocking with hatred.
America needs to show a little bit of kindness.