My Mom had a great line when I was a little boy and people called me “Crippled” or “Freak”. She reminded me; “Labels Are For Jars, Son”
It’s almost funny to me, and I do mean the essence of irony. In 1981, my yet to be recognized “life path” took me from an FM Radio Disc Jockey into the world of public speaking. The United Nations had officially declared it “The International Year For Disabled People”! This was really new idea. Now it’s seems, there’s a “day” or “month” or yes, even a “year” for everything. Everyone’s got a cause I guess, and that’s okay, but this isn’t my “cause”. It’s become my expertise as a Professional Motivational Speaker. But let’s not get ahead of myself here.
1981 opened a huge portal for me to enter and literally change my plan, if I even had one. Frankly, I didn’t think that way back then because when you are born without arms, your plans are not in your control. The often “ignorant” world I lived in then called the shots. To clarify, I was absolutely accepting of the fact that I was limited in career options, which is how I got into Radio. What’s a guy without arms supposed to sound like anyways? My point is…I learned to be comfortable in my own skin. The International Year gave me an opportunity to get the world to do the same.
I started getting invited to schools as a radio personality in my adopted home of Regina, Saskatchewan. I grew up in Yorkton, two hours away so I had a great affection for my Province. I felt humbled to share my story to fulfill one of the major objectives of the United Nations Declaration…Awareness!
In 2019, our “Awareness Index” has grown in so many ways. As I referenced here, everyone has a cause and in many ways, social media and the internet has had a huge impact on spreading the word. That’s a good and unfortunately, bad thing at the exact same time, but that’s a subject for another time.
In 1981, I even quit my radio gig to be a full time speaker for the International Year eventually joining the Saskatchewan Council For Crippled Children & Adults, who after 1981, and with the proper focus in mind, went through a huge name change to the “Saskatchewan Abilities Council”. That’s a lot better, huh? The Council’s main function across Saskatchewan was operating “Workshops” for mainly intellectually challenged adults. When I started there, these human beings were called “Retards”! Yep…I just wrote that! Shocked? You should be. Isn’t it funny how ignorant our world was? You could say the same about the “N” word, and hundreds of other “Labels” we used to describe people. For my talks back then, I was both educating and entertaining so not unlike today, I was very personal about my life growing up without arms.
My Mom had a great line when I was a little boy and people called me “Crippled” or “Freak”. She reminded me; “Labels Are For Jars, Son”. It honestly never occurred to me to get angry, or violent at the outrageous prejudice. That’s a huge reason I’m so content today. People have a tendency to be “Drama Queens”, which bluntly has been the foundation for too much focus on anger lately. Don’t you all feel like there’s not enough “Good News”?
So Child Clothing Company, Oshkosh B’Gosh has introduced the world to Asher Nash. He’s going to be world famous. He will be the face and personality of the Christmas Ad Campaign this year. He oozes joy and love and authenticity. He also has Downs Syndrome! I’m so ecstatic. More on that in a minute.
Let’s be candid now. Some folks will not only shake their head with disgust at this news, but then angrily state that this is what happens when the “Politically Correct” get their way and “Diversity and Inclusion” give minorities one more advantage! Hard to fathom this belief still exists. Bit trust me…it used to much worse.
Not the Good Old Days
If you haven’t seen it, please take a minute to check out my video on Goalcast. Last count, it had over 36,000,000 views on Facebook alone. These fine folks who produced it completely on their own and had never heard me use the line about “Labels Are For Jars” watched my speeches, read my blogs and determined the video should be called…”Change The Label”. Brilliant.
At the end of the day, human beings all need to grow. It’s the only logical reason for our existence. Some people will fight tooth and nail for “The Good Old Days”! They have that right. I, on the other hand, or better put…the other foot, believe in Change. I’ve witnessed the benefits and I believe companies and organizations that embrace this thinking see the same.
Diversity and Inclusion isn’t an evil plot from the “Left Wing” politics of the world. It’s honouring a very simple idea. We are not our Labels…We Are Human beings. Isn’t that worth celebrating?