Kara-Leah recently wrote a thought-provoking article on political correctness. For those who don’t feel the word ‘disabled’ should be used, I’d encourage you to read her take on the subject. And now, I’d like to use that very ‘un-pc’ word to tell you something about myself.
I am disabled.
I first realized this when a friend of mine in college, who happened to use a wheelchair, told me one day that he wasn’t disabled.
“What do you mean?”, I asked, since he wasn’t able to move without his wheelchair and thus was clearly disabled.
“I mean that there are people who can’t move their arms or even their faces,” he said. “Compared to them, I’m super-abled.”
He had a point. I’d probably be considered super-abled compared to many people my age. At 37, I practice martial arts regularly, I’m a runner, and I tend to explore my environment with my movement, whether that means climbing trees, balancing on chairs, or running through the wilderness. Yet a friend of mine who is 46 can kick my butt wearing cross-country skies, and compared to the people in this video (which has since this writing been removed, but showed some contortionist dancers doing some amazing physical feats), I’m essentially disabled –
(Sadly, the video that was here is no longer on Youtube because of copyright — too bad, as it was amazing to witness.)
Perhaps it might be better if we didn’t try to box people into terms like ‘disabled’. After all, if we’re really going to be truthful, all of us are ‘differently-abled’. My friend in the wheelchair, for instance, was a wheelchair racer, and he had much more arm strength and endurance than me. He could do wondrous balances in his chair that were far beyond my ability. He was only ‘disabled’ because in our culture, we see a wheelchair and make an immediate judgment.
Some of us use wheelchairs, some of us can fly through the air as if we are weightless, some cannot move at all, and others can move their bodies just enough to walk about in the world and go for an occasional jog. What if we all celebrated our physical diversity? Even if someone is totally paralyzed, I’m sure I could learn something about movement from them if I took the time to approach them with the respect due to an equal. This way of thinking applies to anything we consider a ‘disability’ in our culture. In this article, I wrote about how we might view mental ‘disabilities’ differently.
For fun, here’s another example of some people who can move through space in a way that few of us can hardly imagine. (The video that was originally posted here has also been removed from Youtube. Bummer.)
Instead of pigeon-holing people, or trying to teach respect or ‘tolerance’, what if we taught our children that every single person in this world is unique — each person has a different colored skin, different hair, different ways of speaking and thinking, different types of physical and mental and emotional abilities. What would happen if we all became curious about those differences — might the world be a more wondrous place if we celebrated our unique natures?
Rebecca and I invite you to visit our Adventure Journal!