We always get to the airport early. We like mornings, even sometimes very early mornings, so while it’s not fun, it’s not terrible either. Check in went smoothly and then we were off to security and then we’d pick up something for breakfast and eat it at the gate. We found a place to get something to eat and Joe carried it as we went to find a seat.
A boy about 12 was sitting in the wheelchair designated seats. In front of him was a bright red walker. I like those things because they are ‘in your face’ and are an outward sign of inward pride. He was very thin and had a face that easily broke into a smile. We nodded and then he went back to is phone and Joe and I munched out on our meal.
The area began to fill.
I noticed them because I noticed him. He was nervously glancing up and to my right. I looked over to see four children near his age huddled together, looking at him and laughing. They intended for him to notice. They wanted their natural superiority known. Walking supremacists are as dangerous as any other variety. What they showed, however was simply that they were cruel.
I’ve seen those faces all my life. I was angered that they were targeting a kid just sitting waiting for his plane. I looked around for his parents but I didn’t see them anywhere. He was simply on his own, being where he was supposed to be.
Quietly, I turned my chair and rolled over a few feet. I stopped about where I thought that I blocked their view. They would have to stand to see him. I knew I was in the way of others who, if they wanted seats, they would have to step around me, and I didn’t care. I stared at them. Really stared. In only a few seconds they got up and fled to another area of the gate.
I rolled back.
Why did I do this?
Because, though I will never know his name.
And I have a responsibility to use the power I have to simply do something. “Doing Damns the Darkness” and action is needed more than quiet, passive, disapproval.
Let me make it clear. I do not tell you what happened because I want you to think well of me. I don’t think that what I did was ‘good’ … I think that baseline level of social expectation is to combat cruelty. Bullies would not be able to bully if boldness became the standard expectation of everyone.
I continue to believe that the community belongs to all of us, and if that’s true there are things we need to do to ensure that everyone feels welcome.