“Friendship…the choices we make, reveal the true nature of our character.” Guinness commercial
Beer commercials usually bug me. They mostly promote a parade of the well-dressed or nearly dressed young adults, who have no purpose other than endless partying. This ad struck a different chord
The tweets and social media comments have been mixed. We don’t know how the young man acquired his disability. (I presume he is a real person with a real disability.) But it doesn’t matter. Some tweets darkly suggested he was hit by a drunk driver. That’s missing the point. It’s that his friends worked hard to do something they were uncomfortable with to learn how to live in their friend’s shoes, or wheelchair in this case. The victory is in learning how to do something different and developing greater insight. How many of us would go to that effort for a friend?
I suspect the ad was influenced by the rough and tumble film “Murderball.” But beyond the brash physical effort of the game, the underlying message is that friendship is not always easy. There is often a struggle and suffering to reach out and embrace a friend, no matter the ability or disability.
Many people with disabilities have impoverished social networks. They suffer from establishing few relationships outside of family and caregivers. Our son struggles with finding true friends. After high school, most of his peers went separate paths. Even though Phillip is living on campus, his social circle is not as strong as he would like it to be. But being the tenacious young man that he is, Phillip keeps trying. He has a strong Christian faith, and attends many of the campus ministry programs. Gratefully, he has found some companionship and acceptance at the “Fish House.”
Some social experts warn that Phillip’s situation is a little symbolic of the times. With all of the texting, tweeting and video games, young people are weak in developing true friendships. One social skills counselor who works with many kids with autism and other disabilities, said mainstream parents are seeking her help. Their so called “normal” kids are unable to interact and connect with their peers. Often, our kids with disabilities are the “canaries in the coal mine.” If there is something amiss at school, church or in society, they are the first ones to tank. Our kids who live outside of the box give us a warning, teach us, and help us to learn.
True change mostly comes from a social revolution. If the media paint people with disabilities as being valuable and included, the masses usually follow. One father of a child with a disability commented on the You Tube site, “Great message, even if the intent is selling beer.”
“Friendship is the most beautiful word in any language. It’s the unselfish understanding between people. It’s the aroma of life…” C.R Pearsall, founding member of an Idaho fly fishing club