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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Painful Memories of a Prize for 'Kindness'

Listen to a recent boo I submitted on my AudioBoo Channel about my experience by clicking this link to my AudioBoo Channel. Thanks!

I'm reluctant to write this entry but I feel compelled to do it just the same. Another child has been awarded the so-called 'Prize for Kindness' for assisting his disabled friend. The award which is awarded in tribute of the late Pope John XXIII has, as far as I know, always given to non-disabled children who befriend another disabled child.

I can understand how mainstream society may feel the need to reward acts of solidarity which promote the value of friendship. But, as a disabled child who learned that his best friend had received the prize for being a friend to him seemed to destroy the trust he once had. Inevitably, this made me more cautious of any later friendships and feared that I was always an inferior and could never truly be equal. It took years to repair the friendship I had with my friend and we never got close to repairing it as the memories are still there.

I don't want to open these wounds again for I've already written about it in this post. I'm afraid that in spite of all the good intentions of the organisers of this initiative, they fail to consider that the very need to reward some children for being friends whom society still considers as less fortunate is enforcing ideas of difference and separation as helping a friend becomes an act of charity just because he or she happens to be disabled-. So, in a sense, it also suggests that such friendships are, really, a sacrifice that must be carried exclusively by the non-disabled friend while suggesting that the disabled party brings no real value to the friendship!

As a person who has been on the 'other side' of the prize, I sincerely appeal to organisers of the award to rethink the philosophy behind this award. For, even if it might have been valid in an earlier Malta, it is not consistent to the principle of inclusion.

I believe that we are duty-bound to include everyone in society not just because we have the right to be included and treated equally - disabled or not, but rather this is what ensures the maintenance of a society dependent on the values of social justice and human co-existence.

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