Yang Jie is a 17 year old boy with a severe brain disease that significantly impacts his learning abilities. He lives with his grandparents, aunt, and two younger siblings in Heifei located in Anhui Province of eastern China. Starting at a young age, Yang Jie would wander away from home. The family, however, was unable to afford professional care and help, so they thought it would be best to tie him to a well to keep him safe. It is also noted that the family ties him to a bed when he goes to sleep. The knots are simple, but with his learning disabilities, Yang Jie is unable to set himself free.
It is an outrage and morally corrupt that people with mental disabilities are still severely marginalized and neglected care in society to this very day. Yang Jie isn’t safe. Sometimes, he is found eating rice from the ground that is used to feed the chickens, dried leaves, and animal feces. Hygiene isn’t being prioritized in his life and his own capabilities and potential to be productive aren’t being nurtured.
Things are rapidly deteriorating. This is what we call lost opportunities. The very things we are afraid to dream about. And yet, we’re nowhere close to escaping this hellish nightmare, because we create them by dehumanizing those who are born with mental conditions. Things that are out of their own control. Because they were dealt a hand of cards that “doesn’t look promising.”
Do you know what else isn’t promising? The lack of understanding and compassion that’s trending nowadays. Because somehow it’s cool and easier to not give a damn. And that exact attitude is what can mentally and literally kill someone’s life. It’s a very fine line we walk on. And I think it’s important to get over ourselves. To stop striving for perfection and take a good hard look at the flaws we’re still choosing to hold onto today. We’re nowhere close to being united if we’re not aware of the responsibility each and every one of us possesses to speak up for those who can’t.
Fostering the idea that everyone plays an important role in this world is what can set us free from the pre-judgments that hold us back. It’s what can set Yang Jie free. But until that happens, we are bound ourselves within this vicious cycle of harboring ignorant habits that keeps us from moving forward. Instead, they only tie people down who have been misunderstood their whole lives for something that can’t be helped on their own.
People often think that it’s the mental conditions and illnesses that are the problems themselves, and yet we never take a step back and observe the fallacies our fears cause us to create. Because shutting out those whom we can’t understand is easier than letting them within society’s circle, right? Then, everything looks normal and we can just go on with our lives, right? Wrong.
By doing this, we as a whole are setting ourselves up for failure. This is why self-understanding, empathy, and awareness are important. This is why psychology is important. It’s not just about diagnosing the matters of the human condition. It’s more than that. It’s a way out. A way out of the horrible histories we’re choosing to re-write when we don’t take the time to understand each other. And if we continue to ignore issues like this, there won’t be any conscience left. There won’t be much of anything left, for that matter.