Archive for the 'disabled' Category

22
Nov
13

is normal valuable?

is normal valuableWhat is normal?  And can one who is deemed not normal by society, live a fulfilling life?

Today in my one class we watched a documentary about a young couple getting married.  Nothing too out of the ordinary there, right?  But in this case, both the husband and wife have Down syndrome.  Though they struggle with living a fully dependent life, they overcome stigma associated with their condition.

What struck me most about this couple is their love.  We could learn so much from them by how they love.  I’m not talking just about their love for one another, but the great love and affection they show for everyone in their lives.  They have such patience, gentility and collaboration skills.  So why are they considered not “normal” by society when they possess these exceptional skills and capacity which many “normal” people seem to be lacking or incapable?

It’s all about what we value in society.  If you possess what is valued, then you are considered “normal.”  But if you don’t measure up, then you are pushed outside of the gold circle.  Do we value the capacity of loving greater than that of making money?  Obviously not, since money is considered the standard by which we measure success.  Yet most everyone would admit that love is priceless.

Do we even recognize what and how we give value to people and things in our society?  Perhaps if we thought more about it, we’d find that what we consider “normal” isn’t something to value at all.

For more information on the documentary called Monica and David see link below (clips also on You tube):  http://www.monicaanddavid.com/about/synopsis/

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30
Aug
13

reality check

reality checkWhat does it mean to be disabled?  Who are the disabled?  Too often they are the invisible in our society; hidden away and unable to participate in “everyday life” activities.  Why?  Because they are labeled disabled or because we have created a society which does not allow them to participate in a “normal” life?

Since my dog’s leg amputation, we needed to acquire a special body harness for her in order to assist her up the stairs to our second floor apartment.  She walks very well, but because she cannot walk upstairs on her own, she would most likely be labeled as disabled.  This disability does not become the problem of my landlord to modify the architecture of our building in order to accommodate my dog’s needs nor the responsibility of society.  This is a private matter which solely falls upon her family.

According to Susan Wendell’s book, The Rejected Body, disabilities are a result of  “societies that are physically constructed and socially organized with the unacknowledged assumption that everyone is healthy, non-disabled, young but adult, shaped according to cultural ideal, and often male.”  Think of how many people that excludes?  Just look around at your place of work, restaurant, stores and performance expectations for everyday living.  There’s no room or time for anyone who cannot keep up or adapt to the life prescribed by society’s established norm.

So when I take my dog for a walk, I don’t just get comments because she only has three legs, but because she has learned how to adapt to the norm of getting up and walking on her own.  But if she couldn’t do that, would I love her any less?  Would she suddenly be less valuable to me?  Never.  So why don’t we value everyone in our society and embrace a large part of our population who want to and can contribute to it by creating a world which can accommodate those who do not fall under the healthy, non-disabled, young, male adult norm?  Many do not fall into one or more of these categories already or will at some point (we are all getting older every day).  That’s reality.

Let’s face reality.  Let’s love and value one another as human beings.  Let’s build a society where everyone can truly live.