Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.
The definition of awareness is a state of knowing and being informed of something. noun
Our national groups have worked long and hard to change the public perception of Down syndrome. As a community of parents, we may not always agree on the methods used ("inspiration porn" or "charity walks"), but we should at least be grateful that times have changed - some. We no longer hear "institution" as the only acceptable outcome when a child is born. Unfortunately, there are still way too many people that think 1) the child should not be born at all, or 2) a child is a 'burden' that needs to be 'handled' by society.
We shouldn't "look back in anger," but we should look back. People who have Down syndrome have made amazing strides in the past century. There have been a host of tremendous individuals who have done great things to make our lives better today.
We shouldn't "look forward in fear," but we should be aware that there is much more work to be done.
The Immediate Issue
I would argue that the reaction, or lack of, from the public and mainstream media has been at least in part, influenced by the fact that Ethan had Down syndrome. So many other cases involving use of force by police have gotten national attention and outrage. In fact, a number of people responding to Emma's petition cite 'police brutality' as the reason they are concerned about this case. Yet, a concern about police action is not enough. Is that because the 'victim' is seen as less worthy? If you browse the comments on several articles you get the impression that there is at least a segment of the population that believes his death was his own fault, or that of his family, and that it doesn't really matter that much because he was a 'burden' to everyone.
Which brings me to the lack of commitment from Governor O'Malley to order an independent investigation. If this had been any other victim, would he be so silent? We all know by now that the governor has his eyes on the White House. If this case was seen as anything but a 'disability issue' would he have avoided the cameras, or would he welcome any chance to be seen as the hero?
Continuing the March
Look "Around in Awareness"
No matter how you decide to celebrate October, I hope you'll let people know that you love someone who happens to have Down syndrome. Isn't that our main message? By sharing our stories, we have a unique opportunity to influence 'awareness.' People respond to concrete examples much better than hypothetical's, theory, or symbols. Ethan and Emma have taught us that much.