After last week’s MLK Day post, I started wondering what to write about next. One of the things that came to mind was a poem I read, and wrote one in the style of, in third grade.
Back in third grade, language arts didn’t have much room for creative writing time, so a guest teacher came to our class a couple times a week to teach us the wonders of poetry, stories, and more. That’s how I met the woman who would later become my fifth-grade teacher and who would help start me on the road to a career as a “real writer.” Bless her, this sainted woman, Ms. B, would also put up with my overblown similes and metaphors, my descriptions that read like they escaped from Hallmark cards, and my elementary school philosophy that as long as the content was good, who cares whether paragraphs were indented or not? Thanks again, Ms. B.
Anyway, one of the activities we did in her third grade workshop involved reading a poem called “If I Were in Charge of the World” by Judith Viorst. It’s a great poem–here’s a link:
As you might guess, we were then asked to write our own poems on the theme of what we would do if we were in charge of the world. Now, I don’t remember much of that poem and I know it wasn’t all about disability. I do remember I mentioned physical therapy in the “I’d cancel” part, but that’s all. It was mostly about eating chocolate for breakfast, reading books all day, things typical third-graders think about. If you ask me, that’s how it should be. Because if a kid with a disability, given charge of the world, could only say, “Well, I’d cure my disability/get rid of all these disability-related things,” then we’ve got bigger problems than who’s in charge of the world. I guess the problem is, how we’re running the world.
But then again, what would happen if people with disabilities were in the majority? Rather than explain in words, I have another link for you. It’s a video that imagines exactly that:
Pretty powerful stuff, eh?
Now, I’m not saying PWDs need to be in the majority to be understood. In this world, there are always going to be majorities and minorities no matter who’s in charge, and if PWDs were in an overwhelming majority, temporarily able-bodied people might face the same issues PWDs have to put up with today–being treated like they’re not normal, being placed in jobs and housing they neither asked for nor wanted, being expected to appreciate second-class treatment and even thank others for it because hey, they’re lucky they even get to live among us! We could just call them useless eaters and lock them in jails or institutions–is that what they want? Oy, would we be in trouble. You know what they say: absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the TAB population has already proven it hundreds of times over the centuries. I wouldn’t want to be a person with a disability who helped prove that my people group could do it, too. As far as I know, there may already be some out there–PWDs are capable of being jerks or even sociopaths just like the rest of us.
That being said, I think PWDs and the temporarily able-bodied population should work harder to make sure everyone gets a shot at being in charge of their own world as much as possible. To that end, here’s a poem:
If I were in charge of the world, I’d cancel diseases, unnatural therapy, calories, and also weather above 75.
If I were in charge of the world, there’d be more attention paid to cats, “book days” instead of sick days, and a new holiday to add to that slump between Christmas and New Year’s.
If I were in charge of the world
You wouldn’t have “retard”
You wouldn’t have “special education”
You wouldn’t have “behavior plans”
Or, “Meet this goal to prove you can be included”
You wouldn’t even have goals.
If I were in charge of the world
People with disabilities could make friends as easily as anyone else
Everybody would quit arguing over religion and what Jesus really said
And a person who sometimes forgot her purse
And sometimes “forgot” to go to the gym
Would still be allowed to be
In charge of the world.