This post has the potential to offend some people, so let me start with this: I am not calling out any one individual here. I have seen many, many good people say something along the lines of what I’m about to talk about, and I can tell you for a fact that I, too, have been similarly thoughtless in some way. I am only talking about things like this because the best way to push back against ignorance is to shine a light on it.
That out of the way, let me say this: I, as a disabled person, am not your very own, personal angel whose purpose in life is to teach you a lesson about hope, perseverance, kindness or any other virtue. Neither is anyone else with any kind of physical, mental or cognition based disability.
We were not put on this earth to teach the fully abled folks anything. I realize that you mean well when you try to say this sort of thing, but do you know how it sounds to us? It sounds like our only true value is how it makes people without our challenges feel.
It’s already hard enough for us. We already have to face obstacles that most people don’t even consider. Everything is already more difficult for us to do. Do people really need to come along and make us feel like we’re just vessels to further enrich the lives of those who don’t have the same sort of struggles?
The part about this sentiment that gets me the most irate, however, is that for some who post it, it’s virtue signalling. Not everyone, no, I know some of the people who have said this sort of thing and know that that never even crossed their minds, but for some? It is absolutely a case of “look at how kind I am to say these nice things about that special needs child or that veteran in a wheelchair or that deaf person”. Stop using me, and others like me, to make yourself look good.
I have value on my own. We all do. You do, too. No one needs to try to broadcast their own value by making mine be as a tool for their glorification.
Now, again, let me just say that I am not trying to point a finger at any one person, and if this post has made you uncomfortable I am sorry. Sort of. It’s good that it did, but the best course of action is to take that discomfort and use it to change. You don’t need to wallow in guilt, you don’t need to apologize to me, I only ask that you please try to change. Making people feel guilty about past actions is not why I write about these things, I’m not out to shame people for past deeds. I want to educate. So all I ask is that you think about what I’m saying and try to change if it has hit a nerve.
And that you be kind to everyone, yourself included, regardless of their abilities, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender presentation. Just be kind without qualifiers.