Posts Tagged ‘handicapped’
I love politically correct language. It’s funny. It’s irrational. I could go on all day but let me get to my point.
A lot of people in wheelchairs, for example like to refer to themselves as “disabled”. In this country some people feel it is more appropriate to qualify that as “Disabled-American”.
For a while I was getting a kick out of referring to myself as a Cripple in conversation with Walkies. I no longer get the same thrill out of that. No, what I have done, see, is I have begun peppering in the phrase “Crippled-American” into my everyday interactions with Walkies. Try it. It really screws with people’s minds. They don’t know how to react. It’s hilarious.
I love this ad that Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is running. The theme is “Pity. It’s 100% Curable.” I think the ad hits the subject from the right angle.
I love it because I went to Gillette myself as a very young child with spina bifida and it was at that stage in my life when it was most crucial that I found out for myself that yes I had a disability and no there was no changing it, and that the only thing that needed adjusting was the way I saw myself and the way I worked with what I had. Of course I did not think of it in those words exactly, when I was five. But you get the idea.
And this ad works on more than one level really. It addresses the pity that the disabled child might feel for himself, and it also speaks to the fact that once that child cures his self-pity, he can start showing the world around him that there is absolutely no reason to pity him, nor is there, in fact, any room or time for pity. He’s got a life to start living.
The four-wheeled rambler and his time machine with hand controls has just landed in the year 30 A.D. in the town of Jerusalem. And man are things different here! And okay, things are not altogether as bad as I said they would be before I came – “a time before there were any comforts whatsoever for the afflicted” I believe is what I said. That is not completely true. In fact, one of the first things I found on my journey of discovery through Jerusalem in 30 A.D. was a colonnade (series of stone pillars holding up a roof, with rows of stalls with beds where people with various afflictions and disabilities convalesced. I guess you could say it was somewhere in between a hospital (which, yeah, they should have had) and a “home” (which in today’s Western world is only for the “criminally insane”, not the physically disabled.)
So it wasn’t all bad of course. In fact, when I went to speak to the inhabitants of the colonnades (fluent in first century Aramaic as I am) I found that the common belief system regarding disabilities is totally different in the 21st century from what it was then. For example, the belief that the disability was given to the person by God. This seems to have been prevalent among the disabled including the blind and deaf,f and others in the first century, and still is today, but the theory behind it has changed drastically.
Today you hear a lot of different stories on this issue. Some believe it, some think they were given their disability as a gift, some say God allowed the devil to work on them, as retribution for something their parents did, or they were injured as retribution for something they did themselves. They had drifted that far away from God that the devil had that power over them.
Around this time, 30 A.D., Jesus was preaching that “It was not that (the disabled person) has sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Some people still believe in this. Some people think it is too cheery, and overly “inspirational”, an image which disabled people often despise. Take it for what it is.
I met a man in the colonnades with wilted and twisted limbs, who said to me “my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses”. I think that same phrase would later make it into the Bible somewhere, and it’s a good piece of wisdom. What does it mean? I think it means that physical strength and “beauty” will not get you everything. Those who do not have it may find other modes of strength which are more valuable.
But this is not a Bible study. So I rolled onward, into the streets, where I met 1st century equivalent of the disabled homeless Vietnam veteran and his “will work for food” sign. The leper. Lepers were a different case altogether. When I went anywhere near one of these unfortunate people, hordes of townfolk would shout at me to stay away. Why? Because everyone in the 1st century knows that people get leprosy for disobeying God, and wherever roams a leper, roams also the devil. Duh!, right?
Ah, but we’ve found a contradiction, and the four-wheeled rambler loves digging up historical and ideological contradictions! You never heard of anyone getting spina bifida for disobeying God back in the first century. Just the lepers! It’s less of a disability and more of a malady, but it is a disabling affliction, nonetheless. Now its the disabled who the new age Christians will tell you are disabled as a result of some sin somewhere along the line. That’s what I’ve heard anyway. There aren’t too many lepers running around today, except in Africa, and Southern Asia. But even though they had their share of compassionate advocates in Jerusalem in 30 A.D., they encounter less discrimination and fear overall than they did 2000 years ago.
My, how things have come full circle.
You want to see the stupidest, most offensive thing I have ever seen on the internet? Click here to see it.
Wasn’t that the worst? I mean, come on, it’s called the 40-Step Program but there are only 37 steps in that picture! God, people really can be stupid sometimes. That’s about all I have to say about it.
It has come to my attention that this blog has gotten far too serious for its own good lately. I like to bring a little stark reality, a little commentary on what is going on in the world regarding my disabled brothers and sisters, but if you’ve been reading my work for a while you’ll know that I like to have a little fun too. So for now, all bets are off on the stark reality crap, let’s have a little fun:
A guy walks into a country club where he sees one of his fellow club members. He walks up to the guy and he says “Hey buddy, what’s your handicap?”
The second guy, full of indignation, replies “I can’t believe you just said that to me! Its ‘disability’ not ‘handicap’ ” and he punches the first guy in the face.
The first guy, stunned, picks himself up off the ground and says “Jesus, man, I was talking about golf, I don’t know what your problem is” and he kicks the second guy out of his wheelchair.
And I say “Good”. People are far too sensitive in this country. Probably always will be. This guy in the chair should consider himself lucky he was allowed on the golf course to begin with. They are always very concerned that we will put a rut in the fairway. I have been asked not to take my wheelchair on a miniature golf course, so I know what I am talking about.
Okay so there was a little bit of “stark reality” chucked in there.
This one goes back a few years, but it is something that popped into my mind last night, and I would love to read people’s thoughts on the subject:
When I was still living at home with my parents, I remember them talking about sales calls they would get from a woman identifying herself only as “the handicapped lady”. What she was selling or advocating is lost to history, but the point is she used her disability as a…well, a gimmick. I don’t wanna get off on a rant here, but it also pigeonholed her as a person with disabilities, and not much more. That was all she wanted people to know about her, it seemed.
I suppose all of us with disabilities may have used our situation, blatantly or not, as a way to gain someone’s sympathy (“I can’t do that, my legs don’t work”), trust (people tend to think that disabled people are incapable of back-stabbing behavior, but it is simply not true), or just to gain an advantage that able-bodied people would not get (billions examples from un-needed SSI payments to everyday things like a seat closer to the door – anything).
But how far is taking it too far? When is using your disability to your advantage (or as a gimmick) just unhealthy self-deprecation, and a plea for pity, i.e., “the handicapped lady”?
Lame is another word that was perfectly acceptable a while back in reference to the physically handicapped. If your legs didn’t work, you were lame. This one is not as good as another word that I blogged about, “Cripple“, because the word “lame” is so universally abused at present time to refer to anything that is impotent, uncool, out of style. Music from a bygone generation is lame. A movie that does not provide the action, explosions and excitement that the preview promised is lame. And, many subcultures that you will find within the hallowed halls of many high schools…the nerds, the trekkies…etc…all lame.
Why? Because their substance foregoes aesthetics?
Maybe, but remember, it used to be that the kids that messed around with computers during the summer while all the cool people were out being cool, were lame. Now they are cutting edge. What once was lame is now the upper crust.
That is the way I see things for the disabled community. Years ago, long before my time, disabled people were cast aside without a second look. But we are the 21st Century Lame, and the world is ours. All we have to do is stake our claim in it.
Anyone who has read as much about the Beatles as I have probably knows that John Lennon, as a young adult, was not an outwardly sensitive creature. He maintained a gruff and tough exterior, and was known for adding just a pinch of cynicism to some of Paul’s more happy-go-lucky tunes.
Before being politically-correct was even thought of, Lennon had a ghoulish sense of humor, and was fond of drawing crude sketches of, and doing exaggerated impressions of the physically and mentally handicapped. He once insisted on shaking the hand of a veteran who had lost both arms in WWII. You may not find anything funny about this, and I certainly don’t either. Ironic maybe, but not funny.
However, I take it for what it was: a defense mechanism. I make no excuses for my musical hero. That’s just what it was. Lennon once said that the Beatles became so famous that mothers of disabled children were coming up to them and asking them to just touch their child’s hand in the hopes that it would cure the child’s ailment. The front row at their concerts was always full of kids in wheelchairs almost as though they were waiting to be annointed by the Beatles sweat. Soon this became a horrifying experience for Lennon.
There is a reason that I feel that it was not in John Lennon’s true nature, nor was it his true intention to be cruel toward people less physically or mentally “fortunate” than him. In 1972, Lennon put on a concert to benefit mentally disabled children. It was his way of making right on his past immaturity. And not only did he put on the show, he wanted to release an album of the show for charity as well, but that didn’t happen until 1986. This was 1972, remember, when a charity concert was not a popular thing to do, and if it was done, it was like the Monterrey Pop Festival with a dozen bands on the bill. The 1972 Lennon show was just Lennon and his band.
I have a tattoo which reads “Imagine” because I know that mocking the mentally disabled may have been one of Lennon’s quirks, but open-mindedness and imagination were his message.