The Cemetery Path, et cetera.July 19, 2006
When I was in the fourth grade, I read a selection from my reader called The Cemetery Path; I can’t remember who wrote it now. The story was about a young Cossack soldier named Ivan, who was very timid all the time. He was in a bar with a bunch of men, who taunted him quite a bit about his extreme fear. One evening, after imbibing quite a lot of vodka, they dared him to go through the cemetery alone, in the dark, and take with him a sword, and stick it into a particular grave. They dared him to do this, because he intentionally avoided the much shorter path home, through this cemetery, because he was terrified of it. I gather, that after a round of drinking, they felt a need to tease him more. I can still remember, 12 years later, how I felt when I was reading that story. I felt very sad for Ivan, because he was a) being teased and bullied relentlessly, and he didn’t do anything to deserve it, and b) he was being forced to do something he did not want to do. Not only did he not want to go through the cemetary, he was DEATHLY AFRAID of doing so(and he did die at the end. He was so intent on getting the damn sword in the grave and getting the fuck out of there, that he ended up putting the sword in THROUGH HIS LONG COAT. He had gotten himself stuck in the place he feared the most. I’m sure many people, especially those not in the mainstream of brain-wiring, can relate to that. He tugged and tugged at his coat, trying to free himself. He was so terrified that he vomited, and choked on it. A truly awful way to die.). In addition to sadness for him, I also felt anger. Anger that people were treating him badly. Anger that he was being forced into a situation. I saw myself in him, because I felt like I was being forced to do things I didn’t want to do, and at that point school was one hell of a confusing place with lots of stimulation. I didn’t fully catch onto the whole school and studying and academics thing until the beginning of fifth grade. But anyway. The story never described him in school, but he certainly was bullied to death (literally) by the other men. I couldn’t really think in such terms in 4th grade, but I know now that I did feel that way. At the same time that I was feeling so intensely over this reading, The whole point of me writing this is the following: many disabled people are being forced into the same position as Ivan from this story. By this I mean that we are forced into doing things we wouldn’t do out of our own volition: taking horrific medications, putting up with “friendly advice” that doesn’t solve our problems (if we have things we consider as problems in the first place) being forcibly isolated and silenced. The people who forced Ivan to go through the cemetery, are in our terms, those therapists and psychiatrists and parents and helpers and “advocates” who make us do things we might not want to do. Like taking medications that may be totally unnecessary and even deletorious to health, going through numerous “therapies” such as ABA and chelation, and a lot of even wackier things that I can’t/don’t want to think of right now.
Some of us have even suffered the same fate as the character in the story, at the hands of others. The men that Ivan was with were responsible for his death, because while they didn’t kill him themselves, they forced him to do something which resulted in his ultimate death. Unfortunately what is happening to some of us is even worse: people are murdering/have murdered others with disabilities.
Dedicated to: the late Katie McCarron, the late Ulysses Stable, and all the others who have been killed at the hands of the very people who were supposed to love and care for them. May they be remembered forever.