The Able Disabled

I’ve just finished reading the Huffington Post article Virginia To Compensate Victims of Forced Sterilization. This particular paragraph stirred up the most emotions in me:

“The Virginia eugenics law was upheld in the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., writing for the majority, famously declared: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” (paragraph 16)

disabled (adj.)
(of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits movements, senses, or activities (Google)

It sickens me that people would think people with “disabilities” are any less than people without “disabilities”. What right do you have to look down on people who are overcoming obstacles in their daily lives that you never have to go through? Besides, the truth is, we all have “disabilities”, and many of us have much moremonalisaducklips serious problems than those whom we label “disabled”. For me, the girl who is obsessed with taking 999 selfies every day is more blind than a person with eyes that cannot see. Her mental condition (self-centeredness, vanity) limits her senses of true beauty and her ability to love herself and others despite their appearance. People who cannot view “disabled people” as people of value have more “disabilities” in their thinking than all those people they look down upon.

I have a little sister who was diagnosed with autism when she was two. She has taught me many things – the meaning of simply enjoying one’s presence, where I find hope, how (im)patient I actually can be, my faults in the way I judge people… She has helped in shaping me into a better person, and I am confident when I say I believe every person with disabilities has helped the world become a better place by revealing truths to those who claim themselves to be “able”. People with disabilities teach us how to love unconditionally, how to find value and beauty in hardship and ugliness, and that is not limited to clinically proven disabilities either. We are all flawed human beings. But it is precisely our weaknesses that teach us the importance of love, humility, and honesty.

In the end, not being able to see people with disabilities as valuable, precious human beings hurts yourself. What would you do if you became disabled one day? Are you going to believe that you are suddenly a worthless idiot who only causes more burdens for the world? We should have long ago realized that we are all able, and we are all disabled.

One thought on “The Able Disabled

  1. Stephen J. West

    Lovely personal reflection on this very present yet often (intentionally) overlooked issue, Simone. This reminds me of Stephen Kuusisto’s memoir, Planet of the Blind–one of my favorites–when he writes, “It’s not as dark as you think.” I just love all that is implied in that line.

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