On Disability

It strikes me as highly unlikely that the average human being having done much of anything in his or her life has not experienced the “agony of defeat.” As I said in another post on this site, it is often (if not always) true that the most celebrated and, well, successful people, have also been the worst and most dismal failures.

I would think it would also be obvious that those having managed a great deal of success after failure, would assuredly acknowledge that they would rather have just been successful to begin with and by so doing, skip the immense difficulty of failure.

I suppose many might argue that failure, though a harsh one, is a great teacher, and I don’t suppose I can manage a very strong argument to the contrary. After all, on top of teaching one what doesn’t work, failure also teaches one humility—or at least, that is the hope.

Perhaps you’re beginning to wonder at what point I intend to breach the subject upon which this article was to be written. Let me help you to understand that I already have.

You see, disability is not limited to those with physical maladies or disfigurements, nor is it strictly for those with mental problems of various kinds. Putting things simply, to some degree, the entirety of humanity can be said to suffer from some sort of disability or other. In fact, many of us suffer from multiple forms of disability by comparison to those ostensibly determined to be our peers.

Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to say that there are not types of disability that are more severe (some substantially so) than are others. The challenge, of blindness, being deaf, losing or not having limbs and paralysis being pretty obvious examples; and certain mental issues (whether a result of chemical imbalance, trauma, or many other things, aside) certainly do not simplify one’s life.

That being said, one need not experience any of these to be disabled by comparison to others. Just being five feet, eight inches tends to present a serious issue to somebody playing basketball against someone who is over seven feet in height. That doesn’t mean the height disadvantage (handicap or disability) never has been, or cannot be, overcome. That it is or is not overcome though, does not change whether or not it is a disability to the person dealing with it.

My rather simple point though, is that if we can all claim disability, it becomes much harder for people to make a case for that disability being sufficiently severe to keep one from being a productive member of society.

The fact is, I have friends and family members, who though disabled to a degree or extent that is far beyond any I can claim—and the truth is, I’m far from alone in that—are not just productive members of society, but can be and are, considered all but (if not) “model citizens.”

I’m not saying that the folks about whom I’m speaking have never had periods where they counted on some sort of payments or other support for their disability or disabilities (whether governmental in nature, or private). What I am saying though, is that for the most part, those individuals did not count themselves consigned to forever be beholden to society at large for their sustenance, much less pleasurable activities and pursuits that had need of “financing.”

And lest you decide to challenge the level of disability about which I’m speaking, you need to be entirely aware that I have known multiple people who ended up at some point firm in the understanding they would spend the rest of their natural lives moving about in some sort of wheel chair, rather than being able to walk.

I have known more than one person who had to work a great deal harder than all but a very few of their peers to accomplish that which you and I take for granted as barely worth worrying over.

I have been acquainted with blind and deaf people (and we’re not talking about people whose sight or hearing could be “corrected” here either).

I have had the pleasure of knowing folks who had comparatively quite low levels of intelligence, whether as a natural thing, or as a result of some malady or accident.

I could continue down this course, but I think you grasp what I’m trying to say by now. If not, maybe I just can’t get what I’m trying to convey across to you.

Out of all of these people a scant few decided they needed to be supported by society without doing anything to add value to it—and that in ways society, not the people themselves counted valuable.

In some cases, they continued to receive assistance of one form or another, in others they entirely ceased doing so. The point though, is that they did things they knew would be valuable to others around them, even though it was difficult so to do.

Equally, even if such a one had need of additional assistance, the fact that they were, by and large, compensated for those things they took the time and effort to do for their fellows, their needed assistance was almost certainly substantially less than had they not done so.

And I should point out that they are far from alone. Mr (Dr?) Stephen Hawking has a great deal of trouble even communicating with those around him, yet (though I may not agree with nearly everything he posits) he is world renowned for his work in astrophysics and cosmology (among other fields). And I’m pretty sure he’s not a poor man by any stretch of the imagination either.

I want to say one more thing, then I’ll get back to other important activities. Assume for a moment there are people who are generous enough to work to help folks who are unable to support themselves as a result of some disability or other.

Now assume, as is almost certainly the case, that the folks in question have limited resources. The more folks taking from the “pot” they have created, mean the less available resources for those in need.

If you happen to be a person who could live without those resources (by doing productive things and being compensated therefor), does it not seem reasonable to you that you ought to do so? For in so doing, others who have not such abilities can take from that resource.

Suffice it to say that certainly seems sound to me.

Okay, over time and words, so time to call it good for now.

As usual, thanks for reading and have an excellent day.

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