The mental health of others should never be seen as a threat by any grow-up who has managed to reach maturity whilst successfully avoiding minor or major mental trauma. Such blessed individuals should in this modern overtly success and personality driven society consider such total avoidance of anguish exceeding fortunate.
Quite probably I am lucky that my upbringing whilst comfortable and controlled never shielded me from interfacing with the more unfortunates of the world, those whom with a less kind deal of the cards we might all be included. I witnessed the challenged, beginning in childhood, through school, within the confines of public and private society, and was expected to accommodate my fellow humans within the same environment, with the exception of those cases that were medically diagnosed to be likely to present physical dangers. This manner of side-by-side coexistence was not unusual or even of new invention, but ‘twas simply the right and proper way for a community to function.
As with mental issues, so were treated those with physical challenges or impediments, a kinder more inclusive consideration to all exceptions to the imagined but of course totally illusory ideal. Did such blatant openness cause problems, most certainly. Were the worse of human faults, bullying, distain, derision, cruelty, in plain sight for all to see, most certainly. But also the best of qualities, protectiveness, kindness, charity, acceptance, commitment, an abundance of moral and ethical love and kindness more than adequate to outweigh, overpower, eradicate any negativity wholesale.
Thankfully, in this new age I have garnered the ability to retreat to comparative privacy to howl at the moon, to curse at inanimate objects and pour scorn on the individuals and incidents who antagonize me. However, possession of one’s own space is rapidly becoming a decided luxurious possession in a rapidly overcrowding environment. I gained this degree of separation, comfort, space, through the ability to conform, to horn into the tight shoe that is societies parameters for acceptable behavior, to achieve a level of personal and financial comfort that is not easily achieved in a world that has ever increasing challenges for all but the fortunate, the blessed, reasonably successful, monied, positioned, confident, accepted.
I well recall as an adolescent walking each and every Sunday across the forecourt of the magnificent marble-built Star and Garter Home for Military Veterans, set in equally splendid grounds high atop Richmond Hill. An establishment founded purely for the comfort, hospitalization, and succor of veterans from the Great War, particularly those so horribly and permanently injured as to never be able to easily participate in general society again. The forecourt would upon a Sunday be filled with inmates, family and friends, many veterans in wheel or cane bath chairs, upon crutches, lame, blind, deaf, swathed in bandages, many with the mysterious and to many unimaginable ailment of shellshock, now thankfully recognized and categorized as PTSD, but all proud, accepted, uniformed, included, happy to be alive and part of the ensemble.
I was obliged, expected, encouraged, even as a child, to accept the injured, the poorly, the physically and mentally challenged, the disfigured, the heroes and victims, as equal, honored, and respected partners in a world that existed largely due to their and their likes ongoing sacrifice, suffering, unquestioning fortitude. No question of being too young to face reality, of being incapable of acknowledging the price that civilization and progress demands, that the present halcyon days are built upon the backs of those whom came before and need to be recognized by all, young, adult and peers.
Not even in these wonderfully technically proficient days of the twenty twenties can medicine make the physically imperfect whole, the severely challenged complete, but society is capable with positivity, acceptance, and respect to make all participants equal and treasured in every aspect of existence. Train the onlooker, spectator, observer, to see possibility rather than omission, positives as opposed to negatives, what could be rather than what is not, the eternal strength of inclusion above the profound weakness of exclusion. By making all of society complete, make every single piece of society whole.