Our Differences

Delta Winds cover 2002Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


Our Differences


"What a funny little man!" I heard one of the young people say as I walked past the crowd, wondering to myself, "What on earth could be going on over there to have made such a disturbance?" My private question was answered all too soon as I approached the small crowd of observers to find a "small" man crouched down on the cement. His body and his demeanor told me right away that he needed some assistance, but his face told me just as quickly that he was a victim of some kind of abuse.

Little did I realize that day I had come across the most hideous kind of crime there is: violence toward another human being just because he/she was deemed "different." Walking closer to the man, I knew that I had to stay in control, for my emotions were not going to be of any help to this individual, only my expertise and training as a paramedic were needed right now. It was not until much later as I lay in my bed at the fire station that night, remembering the events of that particular call, did I let my defenses down and weep for a man that was a victim of his own circumstances -- circumstances that he had no control over.

Three o'clock in the afternoon, a young man is walking in downtown Stockton, with no particular destination in mind, just a stroll so to speak. Something that all of us have done at one time or another, I am sure. Well-dressed, clean and nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing except that he was born small, or at least smaller and shorter than some consider to be "normal." He lived in the neighborhood, and enjoyed walking through the park and the stores that were conveniently located close to his home. On any given day, he could be seen walking among the businesses and parks in the area. He was somewhat of an "icon" to many of the storeowners, and got along well with everyone that he came in contact with. Except for this particular day, he had never encountered problems during his walks in the area.

As they were "cruising" by, several young men driving through the area happened to see him from the windows of their car. Looking for excitement, or looking simply for something to do, they bounded out of their car and beat the man for no other reason except that he was different. This was not an attempt at robbing the man because it was later discovered that he had over $200 on him; he had offered this to his assailants if they would just leave him alone. They laughed as they continued to beat him until they rendered him unconscious. Whether they stopped their attack because they thought that they had killed him or because of their fear in getting caught is not known; nevertheless, they left the scene of the crime. They left him there to die, or whatever else was to be the fate of this "different" man.

We all have seen the exploitation of the "little people," "midgets," "DWARVES," whatever the term that is acceptable. We have all stared; none of us is exempt from saying that seeing them on the streets has not brought forth our attention or curiosity, thereby making us one of the many that are intrigued with their individuality. But that is where it ends, and we move on with the knowledge that we are all different in our own unique way. That is what makes all of us the individuals that we are. Our conscious decision at those very moments to accept others for who they are, not what they are, sets us apart from the individuals that commit these kinds of horrible crimes against other human beings.

Looking back at that day so many years ago, I cannot help but wonder why a group of young people would do such a hateful and horrible act of violence to a complete stranger? With no more knowledge of the identities of these young men now than I had that very day, it is something that I will never know the answer to. Their mean-spirited and bigoted words still find their way into my mind when I recall the incident. Were these young men on drugs? Were they mentally disturbed? Or were they also victims of their own circumstances that they could not control anymore than the victim that they so unmercifully beat within an inch of his life? These are merely questions that I consider as I go on about my life. I continue to help people that need my help for that is what I am trained to do. Whether I am on duty, or just a civilian out and about enjoying my day, I would do the same thing I did that day. I would stop and help a man in trouble, a man that did not deserve to be beaten and left to die just because someone considered him different.