Q32: Adventures in the Mainstream

Q 32)

 “Almost exactly a year ago I got a call from a producer at Edge Media, a video production company based in Atlanta. Edge had been commissioned by the publishers Holt, Rinehart, and Winston to produce a series of five educational videos…The last one was being done at Nathan Hale and was called Building Self-Esteem…


Ned wasn’t on that list, but when the producer told the first three kids who were on it what the video was about, independent of each other they all responded, “You should really talk to Ned.”


…For those of us who really know him, Graduating Ned is an odd, and even disturbing presentation.  For some reason, they chose not to interview the title character…I suspect that the producers assumed Ned’s “too retarded” to have anything worthwhile to say about his self-esteem and where it comes from.  In that assumption they were wrong, although I admit the interview wouldn’t have been easy…


…one of the reasons Ned is usually happy, and certainly one of the reasons he doesn’t have big self-esteem issues, is that he believes he can do what he wants to do.  And when he can’t, he’s able to forget it and try something else.  If more people had this ability we wouldn’t need 90 percent of the psychiatrists we have now.


I’ve mentioned before that we’re frequently amused by some of the adults Ned meets for the first time, because they’re surprised and even shocked that he’s as happy and outgoing as he is.  They want to demonstrate what compassionate people they are by showing us how sorry they feel for the poor little retard, and they want the poor little re-tard to help in this effort by feeling sorry for himself.  It is the subtext of their reaction – “The kid’s so stupid he doesn’t even understand how awful his life is” – that is infuriating.  Even if Ned acknowledged that he had a developmental disability, it wouldn’t change who he is and his general happiness one bit.  His bliss isn’t based on ignorance. It’s just bliss.”  pp. 152-157


How did you react to this selection?  Does your love one have high self-esteem?  Have you questioned the notion of “ignorance is bliss” in regards to your loved one?

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