Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We Are All Disabled

This was my cousin, Bill. He operated those huge hydraulic excavators, crawler cranes, crawler tractors and crawler loaders. He took flying lessons, earned his pilot's license and bought a plane. He rode motorcycles and jet skis  One day, he dove into his pool and broke his neck. Afterwards, he was still Bill. Still a man who could make people laugh. Still a man everyone loved despite his limitations. He died too young from pneumonia. 

There are other disabled people in my family.  Some have a profound hearing loss. Some have mobility issues. Some are greatly restricted by their disease.

Everyone is damaged in some way. There are no perfect specimens. Romance writers do dream up some mighty, incredible heroes, but in truth no one is immune from limitations. Even though Achilles was a hero he had that thing with his heel, and that's what defeated him.

From the day we're born we come with all kinds of built in boundaries such as congenital "defects" and genetic tendencies handed down to us by our predecessors. Over the years we endure traumatic events in childhood, which leave a mark forever in our psyches. Then there are illnesses, accidents, and finally the inevitable slide into the decay of old age which brings further limitations. Not a single human on this planet will not be disabled in some way sooner or later. 

I believe the majority of people attempt to distance themselves from the disabled because they are afraid. They turn away--as if not seeing the victim will prevent them from enduring such a fate. Some folks are deliberately cruel and make fun of those who are noticeably different in their physical appearance or those who must use adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs.

Once, when my cousin was in the hospital for an infection, he told me one of the psychiatrists had asked him about depression. "As if I could jump out the window." Bill shook his head.

Some progress in accommodating the disabled has been made over the years. Buildings are now planned to allow wheelchair access. Sidewalks have ramps. Still, there is a lot more to do in making accommodations for those who are restricted in their movements. 

Education is a key factor. It wasn't that long ago when children with Down's Syndrome were institutionalized, but now they work everywhere. Some have become movie stars and models. 

There's hope, but we do need to keep an eye on our representatives and vote out those who ignore the marginalized. Vote out those who intend to cut Medicaid and programs that feed children and provide them with health care. Vote out those who would cut disability programs for people like my cousin. 

We must not allow those in power to ignore the less fortunate.

Join the Facebook group No Longer Faceless or Voiceless for further discussion on this topic. 

2 comments:

Mary Anne Yarde said...

Fantastic post, Penelope!

Penelope Marzec said...

Mary Anne:

Thank you. :-)