Just People
 



To you I am 'just a person,' my being disabled is not important, you don't think of me as 'disabled' or 'different.' You say, "We are all people." This is arrogant. Not only am I oppressed, you want my oppression to be invisible, unacknowledged even to myself. Worst of all you seek to deny my identity, my experience, my culture. Don't you understand, you oppress, you disable me with this!

I am not less than you, not longing to be like you. I am complete, a person, a cripple in my own right. I don't want to be, your kind of person. I want to be and am, my kind of person. Why don't you become my kind of person? What would your reaction be if you had a child who was disabled? I suspect much as mine would be if I had a non-disabled child, confused and, yes, disappointed.

It would be difficult for me to identify, empathise with a non-disabled child, knowing it would miss so much. How could I help it explore and create its own life with so many experiences lacking? So many experiences which, with my help, would deepen it's life. We want the best for our children, well, I like myself and think my qualities, my personality as good as any I've known. My experience as a disabled woman is a major part of this. Of course here are disadvantages - mainly caused by non-disabled people, who lack wisdom yet have power over my life - but so are there in yours. From my point of view, the advantages you have you lack the experience to appreciate and utilize fully.


2

Inequality, discrimination, lack of rights, created and maintained by non-disabled people are the disadvantages I 'suffer' from.

We are all people but it's your rule (Which we find very far from, okay).

When you go into a building with stairs, do you find out if there is a lift and if there isn't, do you, not only make a complaint but refuse to enter the building, deny yourself numerous facilities for our 'sameness'?
Do you use public transport which I can't?
Do you do paid work with disabled people, where few or no disabled people are employed, or do you refuse to exploit us?
Do you refuse education or employment because disabled people aren't considered for the courses or the jobs?
Do you actively support political pressure groups for our statutory rights, rather than entertaining yourself with charity events?

Yes, I am a person, a disabled person and proud, yes, that's right, proud to be a cripple.


3

It's your opinion - your difficulties - what you think - what you should do, as usual it's all 'you.' You ask what you and other non-disabled people should do. You could try to stop demanding attention for yourselves. Listen and learn, your life might be expanded.

We, according to you, are all people, laying aside our difference as not important, yet you conduct life as a play where you, non-disabled, always have the main dramatic role. We have other dramas, where you sometimes don't even have a 'walk' on role, remember though, we have many dramas and don't restrict roles. You understand, we could be like you, I.e. we are the most important, our ways are correct, those other than us are of marginal importance, but, with our traditions, we couldn't be so lacking, after all we have the experience and maturity to benefit from difference not be threatened by it.

Listen and learn, your life might be expanded by our example of difference. You might be freed from a conforming stereotype, letting o you embarrassment in the excitement of discovering your life and creating your own ways of living it.


4

It's late, I'm pushed to the car park. You're sorry for me, what a shame I'm not like you, walking. For me the journey is full of experiences. Having no real choice of who pushes me (being without an expensive, motorised wheelchair or paid assistant), I have to relate to this fact, this person, working out their temperament, mood changes and possible future reactions. Adjusting and re-adjusting my inner self, my words and gestures. I negotiate the glances, the attitudes of passing strangers sometimes drunk and full of bravado. Pondering all the while on my thought companions at the moment, or the relationship of disabled people to the outside activity of the world. You walk and relate to the cold.

From the evidence of conversation I know more of the change in surface of what's both under your feet and under my wheels. I know how to experience through pain and physical discomfort, so the cold doesn't overwhelm me, my knowing, my exploring but extends it. I appreciate the subtle. I know how to live in myself and my conversation acknowledges your life. My questions open your understanding of yourself, not assuming who you are you feel.

Of course there are what you would call, negative aspects to this experiencing but positive - negative, is experiencing, is living. Not wanting certain experiences, is also living. This wanting, not wanting, enjoying, hating, makes my life, my experience, my culture valid, as does being bored and indifferent. In this I am like you but our differences are our experience, denying them is denying our realities.


5

You have a basic, conditioned misunderstanding of these negative aspects. This leads you to propound a 'personness' based on the given orthodoxy - a stereotype which denies my equality in difference. Being a 'person' is to be like this stereotype, so what/how I'm not is perceived as my lack, not our difference. The fullness of who I am is never explored because you don't even realise it's there. Ironically it's your lack of understanding, analysis, recognition which causes the misunderstanding. Even more tragic, the stereotype 'person' is not like you, is not defined originally by you either, so you reinforce your own oppression.

If we consider the human condition there are confusing, puzzling and frightening aspects. Is there any wider purpose to life? Is there something we would call 'god'? Why have we evolved in the way we have? Why do we have the difficulties of consciousness and awareness, sometimes bringing sadness and despair? However we do not understand ourselves to be dreadfully lacking, inferior, longing to be other than we are. We do not long to be monkeys or dogs, with a different consciousness, no philosophical puzzling and anxieties for them, we assume (though assumption can lead one awry).

I am disabled, I have a different experience. I do not miss being like you, I want to be like me.


 
   
  drowave  
 

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