PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

As I was reading about cannabis and epilepsy a memory surfaced I really hadn’t thought about
until now, I went to a Catholic grade school from first to eigth grade.Thinking about it I can still
smell the chalk and the slight aoroma of the smoking Herb’s the Priest would swing from an
inscence burner going from class to class blessing each room.We would start each morning
walking single file, class by class to church a block away. Head up, eyes forward.If you took the
chance of looking behind you and slowing up the line you better be prepared to get your ear
practically pulled off your head.Once mass was over we all marched back to school like good
little soldier’s to start our first class which was religion.
This is where we were supposed to learn how to be good Catholics, learn to love thy neighbor
and treat others as we would like to be treated.We would study the 10 commandments, the
sacrifices, and the beatitudes. We would study the Bible even though I had no idea what most of
it meant. We would have to be on our best behavior in religion class.”Head up, Eyes forward” ” I
want everyone to bow their heads in silence and pray for 5 minutes ,which seemed like an
eternity when your a kid. All of the sudden it would start ,my heart would start racing like I woke
up from a nightmare where something big and grim was chasing me in the dark. The screams
and outburst of unidentifiable sounds echoed down the hallways ,I quickly stole a glance at my
classmate next to me ,she looked like I felt. The nun would spring from her chair and shut the
door and you could hear the doors shutting from all the classrooms. We never were told about
the class down the long dark cooridor ,the classroom that was the farthest away from the
office.

I remember once in forth grade I decided that I wanted to find out about this mysterious
class, I was standing at the start of the forbidden corridor trying to work up the nerve to walk
past the classroom and take a look. All of the sudden I felt my arm being pinched as I was
grabbed up and turned around ” Is your class in this hallway ?” No sister ” you don’t have anybusiness being down there go to your classroom!”

When recess came I looked for my friend Kim she had older brother and sisters maybe she can
answer my question! “Hey Kim , what is wrong with those kid’s in the last hallway?” Oh their
retarted ,that’s special ed.class. Retarded?? Hmm ok .From then on I thought anyone that
screamed out, walked funny, studdered, randomly spoke out unrelatable words or moved about
in a crazy and uncontrollable manner was retarded.
I started noticing these kids more now but we still wasn’t allowed to interact with them.I would
notice their parents walking them in or out of that classroom while all the other kids were
playing outside.

I couldn’t wait to hit 6th grade that’s when you got more responsibilities like being a crosswalk
guard or running errands for your teacher.I finally got called to collect the lunch money from
every class ,you would start with the eighth grade and work down.Then it hit me ,I have to go to
the special ed.class. I started down the hallway and heard what sounded like chaos .As I got closer I could smell an unfimilar smell,It was a cross between a hospital and a nursing home.

As I approached the door the the random screams and cries got louder I knocked quietly and
thought I heard the teacher say come in but the door was locked, I knocked again harder this
time an when she unlocked the door I seen the faces of children who weren’t really there ,a little
boy strapped to his desk chair by a belt ,some sitting in wheel chairs with blank looks stairing at
nothing and drooling with a towel around them like a bib. I just wanted to get out of there but
was grabbed by a little girl wanting to feel my face while another one was trying to hug me.By
the time I left that classroom ,which had to be less than 2 minutes but felt like an eternity, I was
almost in tears because of how petrified I was.

Now that I look back I realize all these kids had autism or epilepsy maybe both or some other
disability. They were being swept under the rug and forbidden to participate in school activities
with the rest of us, they didn’t have lunch with us, didn’t go to church with us or couldn’t even
have recess at the same time the other classes did. I was scared of these innocent and sweet
kids because I must have heard from the teachers or other grown ups what they had been
taught in religion .

Matthewt17:14-21) A man brings his epileptic (“lunatic”) son to Jesus to cure, saying that Jesus’
disciples tried but couldn’t cast out the devil. Jesus rails against his disciples and their “faithless
and perverse generation” and asks how long he will have to be around them. He then cures the
“lunatic” by casting out the devil and explains to his “faithless and perverse” disciples that some
devils require prayer and fasting. He assures them, however, that they can do anything with
faith, including move mountains around.
Or it could have been a movie I rembember watching, where parents committed their kids into
an insane asylym because they said they weren’t fit for society. Just lock the door and throw
away the key right?

I am filled with great sorrow for all those children that were separated from society, not given
the chance to make friends with other kids who could have taught them things .They too could
have taught us something . I’m also full of anger and resentment for the Catholic Church to have
allowed this and to all religions believing that these kids are possessed by the devil. The worst
feeling though is regret , I sure wish I would have hugged that little girl back!

These awful memories that returned after 42 years have now inspired me to raise awareness
for these humble and unique and smart kids.Now that we know CBD can quiet these random
outburst and screams can stop the seizures and acts of self harm. These children with epilepsy
and autism might have the opportunity to participate in school activities ,have conversations
with other kids and make friends. Please teach your kids about children that have disabilities so
they won’t be scared of them.Make sure no one is giving them the wrong Information. Most importantly tell them it’s ok to give them a hug.

©Jean Everson, Free All The Herb’s.

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