Saturday, September 19, 2015

Special guests, a special bus & the mythical "other"

We had about 25 very special guests from Centerville at the museum Thursday morning --- who arrived in a very special vehicle. And darned if I didn't forget to stick the camera in my pocket when I left the house that morning to start a fairly busy day.

So the photographs here were taken by Kathleen and I swiped them from the Lucas County Historical Society Museum Facebook page, which she maintains and which you should go to immediately and "like" if you haven't already.

Our guests were from Centerville Community Betterment, Inc., which offers sheltered housing and various extension services to people who live with developmental challenges --- and has done so, I see, for more than 30 years. If I counted right, our guests included 21 CCB clients and four staffers, plus driver.

Anyhow, they were a delightful group and we were flattered that they came so far to spend part of their morning with us.

We also learned a few things, too --- like the fact we've created a couple of corners recently in display areas that wheelchairs can't navigate. Need to do something about that.

Their "bus" was distinctive, too --- the State Street Trolley, owned and operated by the Centerville Preservation Corporation, fund-raising arm of the Centerville Historic Preservation Commission. This is seen most often in and around Centerville and Appanoose County, so its arrival in Chariton was a treat.


This also was the week, down in Texas, that an extraordinarily bright teen-ager named Ahmed Mohamed made a clock, brought it to school to show his teacher and ended up in police custody. That happened mostly, it would seem, because his teacher, his school and others had never bothered to really get to know him --- were afraid of the "other" and applied "no-tolerance" thinking because he scared them (Ahmed is both black and Muslim; I'm guessing that had he been blond and Baptist, the clock would have been widely admired in that Texas school system.)

You can argue "no-tolerance" to kingdom come and few are going to be happy. And I wouldn't argue that appropriate caution isn't necessary.

But you see this irrational fear of the "other" all the time. I've seen it all my life when the "other" is gay; people of other colors and ethnic backgrounds see it daily; Muslims seem to be the most frequent target these days. I see that fear playing out all the time among Facebook friends, during debates among presidential hopefuls, during religious gatherings and elsewhere.

People with special needs often are perceived of as the "other," too, and feared. When in fact there is no "other" here, in Texas or elsewhere. Only us.

I'm willing to bet that Thursday's visit from new friends from Centerville was much more meaningful to me than it was to them --- and I'm grateful to have been allowed to spend an hour or so with them.

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