Hatred is one of if not the most powerful and deadly emotions of humanity. Hatred has ruined nations and slaughtered innocent people. There is a variety of reasons for hate, some of which are actually quite unreasonable. Reasons include race, religion, gender...and sometimes disability. Ableists believe that people with disability are a liability to society and do not "measure up" to the "standards" of able-bodied people. It is common sense that discrimination of the disabled is as wrong as any other discrimination, yet knowledge is not enough. We must act against this hate.
Ableism can come in many different forms, from Hitler's systematic euthanasia of the defectively born to a camp's refusal to allow a disabled girl to attend. Even sadder, it often seems easy take advantage of someone because of his or her disability. For example, insulting a deaf person or misleading a mentally challenged person. Pity for the disabled, which is not synonymous to sympathy, is also a form of mistreatment. Pity occurs when one party looks down upon another party in disdain for the latter's condition. Having cerebral palsy myself, I can say that pity can be as humiliating as harassment.
In order to prevent ableism, individuals must first be educated in disability awareness. The more people understand about disability, the more they will realize that there is no correlation between disability and basic human dignity. Also, nondisabled and disabled persons should be encouraged to interact. For example, some eighth graders at my middle school are pen pals to students at a school for special needs. Of course, the world will never be free of hatred. What's important is that those who recognize the truth of human dignity take a stand against discrimination. Only the humanity of love can overpower the cruelty of hate. Therefore, when the disabled and the nondisabled can accept each other, as humans we will all be strong on the inside.
My entry for Maltz Jewish Heritage Museum's Stop the Hate essay contest. I did not win, either because it was too (EDIT: not two!) short or it was due that day at 5 and I finished at 4:56. Yet my English teacher tricked me into letting her submit it to the school newspaper, and people have been coming up, giving me random compliments about my essay.
To those who also entered Maltz's contest, I'd like to say good job, and I hope your peers positively responded to your piece even if the judges didn't. To the finalists: you will be condemned for your bribery! Haha if you did not bribe and still won, then congratulations!!