Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reflections: The Boys Next Door

“Civilizations are judged by the way they treat their most helpless citizens.”

Growing up in rural America, I had very few encounters with mentally disabled individuals. But after attending “The Boys Next Door” tonight, I believe I glimpsed God’s heart for these people. The plot revolves around four disabled men living in a group home and their supervisor. The first half was amusing, focusing on the social tension among the men and their struggles, but the second half tugged the heartstrings in a serious way.
One of the men in the home went before a state congressional committee to testify when his benefits were cut. In the middle of a disjointed reply, the actor steps forward to deliver the following speech. While reading the words can be powerful, the actual scene makes it even stronger.

Another poignant subplot comes from Barry, a schizophrenic with delusions of being a professional golfer. After a brief visit from his abusive father, Barry must be removed from the home. The supervisor comes to visit him, but he never responds. I found it almost painful to see him lying there, not moving, not speaking, and only blinking proves he’s still alive.
One reocurring thought during this play was It’s so normal. Even the nonlinear conversations mirrored some discussions I have with my friends. That could mean I have very strange friends, but even so, it drives home a lesson worth learning. People with mental disabilities are PEOPLE.
Not freaks. Not trained animals for our amusement. Not shows for us to gawk at. They are people, created and loved by God. Jesus said, “Whatever you did to the least of these, you did it unto me.”
I can’t find a way to end this properly. But maybe that’s best. You can’t take a heavy issue like this and tie it up in a box with a pretty bow.

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