Beyond the Search Words

I normally name my posts before I type them out, it helps me to retain focus. Instead, I am unable to hammer out a decent title, or one free of curse words anyway. I decided, in my insomnia fit, to peruse the offerings of the internet with a few search words. Disabled and handicapped being the top two. I wanted to see what came up. I am not linking any of the blogs I found, because beyond what is already in my blogroll or private reading list (waiting for me to put it in the blogroll) disgusts me.

Ignoring the posts about disabled porn, ignoring the jokes at the expense of handicapped people I came across what appeared to be a journal of a trip by a handicapped woman. A cold and a broken leg are difficult but not disabilities, are they? The cold isn’t a disability but reasonably the leg could be a temporary disability. Not only does it effect your daily function but even after the bone heals there can be lingering damage. I still had a visceral reaction to the writing, and not in a good way.

I understand disability, and the challenges inherent in trying to maneuver in spaces that are cramped, dealing with prejudice, but writing an entire blog about how you broke your leg and that instantly makes you the most disabled person in the world is really not something I can get behind. Yes, I admit that the writer’s pain is important. However, so is their dignity.

It took me a long time to find out how to blog, because of that very thing. I did not understand the point of blogging, I did not understand that it could be done with Dignity. It was the need for dignity that lead me to posting that very first time, and each time it is the basis for my editing, rejection of some of the writing and my attempts to be open minded.

I strive for personal dignity and I work hard to not strip away the dignity of others. Reading about how cruel the world is for those with an obviously broken leg, the desire for pity instead of dignity frustrated me. So I moved on, another person was complaining about handicapped parking, and how rude it is for people who are handicapped to use it. I read about this one a lot, it sneaks up in most blogs at some point. The concept that a safe spot, with enough room to move a ramp out, your chair, and easier access to a building is beyond some people.

Moving on again, I had to do some deep breathing, refusing to let myself post cutting words to try and make them see. Attacking people, no matter how much I disagree with them is not something I want to do. That would lack grace on my part and could remove their dignity. Then, I found another post laying out another problem people seem to have with handicapped parking.

Did you know that “all handicapped drivers park crookedly, blocking me out of my car when I park near those damned cripples”? Not only is this a blanket statement making it a stereotype but, I often have to have our van pulled out, because there is rarely handicapped parking, and the cars by able bodied people are often parked just as poorly. I am not a driver, so I am not aware of how hard it is to parallel park, but with the monster chair that does not turn I cannot do it in a conference room. I perceive this act as massively difficult.

I am often tempted by magnetic signs that say “Please do not block access to this door, a ramp is contained inside and access is needed for my wheelchair”. I do not because of the local culture. It might qualify as a subculture, and yet it is dominant in my daily life. The culture towards the disabled springs from a lot of superstition and the very poor education available.

I know that the education offered to the American Children fails more and more annually, yet if you are slightly different or have any challenges you are shoved into a room and no one wants to see you. No one teaches you. I am primarily self educated, except for the teachers who actually cared enough to break into my world.

Being aware of this, and what was taught about disability in school, I know that they fear me. the ubiquitous they, in this case means the average New Mexican. The little that was taught about disability in my schooling included first, that disabled people could never function in society unless they were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though we were taught he contracted Polio after his presidency. This is a fallacy, as I know now. Then, we were taught too, that no disabled person ever did anything of historical value. Disabled people are just evil. The contradiction in FDR’s existence never seemed to make a difference.

The superstitions continue, one of the local superstitions states that if a pregnant woman sees a horror or a disabled person, her child will be disfigured in the womb. This means if you are pregnant and stare too long at a person in a chair or even a person with a broken leg, you kill your baby. A lot of the pregnant women out here are teenagers, and a lot of the pregnant women teens and adults drink and smoke. yet the blame falls to the disabled.

The more I read tonight the more frustrated I grow. I did stop, but only to protect myself from festering rage. A cold is not a disability. Illness does not mean disability. A broken leg is a physical injury but injury does not always mean disability. Depending on the rate you heal, you might need a placard, temporarily, but that does not mean you quantifiable understand what it is to be truly disabled. Your pain is valid, do not use it to invalidate mine.

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