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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

BORN TO BE IMPAIRED

Today I am going to talk about another important reason why we’re not special people. At least not in the way some even within professional circles refer to us. I won’t beat about the bush, we’re born to be impaired. That’s the order of things in nature and nobody can do anything about it.

I’ll track back a little. In nature you don’t usually find animals that use wheelchairs, or animals that use screen reading software. For all intents and purposes, the rule is survival of the fittest. An idea that was popularised through Charles Darwin, although not his own idea. But you get the point, unless the change benefits survival, creatures that cannot make it simply die or are killed off by predators. That’s another reason why members of a community who appear different, such as the very young or old, are usually the first to be spotted by predators.

However, although this may be part of nature, should we use this as a rule to form public policy or our society? And how far should we take it?

The eugenic movement got its ideas clear. Anyone who in any way does not conform to its ‘model’ of a human being will impact negatively the human race and the population. Solution? Either death or sterilisation.

I would calmly sip my orange juice (if only I had one) and remain impassionate at that statement. But what this social Darwinism, its correct term, is saying is that being a valid human being entails a number of physiological or intellectual criteria. And that leaves me, well, a failure on two criteria:

-sensory

Physical

Whilst I don’t like failing tests, this assessment has serious implications for me as a person. In crude terms, this judgement reduces my entire life to a diagnosis based entirely on an idea of what a ‘healthy’ 24 year old should be like. Putting it like that might seem over-simplifying matters. But isn’t labelling and giving ‘objective’ names to who I am also over-simplifying matters?

Many so-called ‘professionals’ implicitly relate impairment with negative value. So we get the very flattering and positive terms like ‘dysfunctional’, ‘abnormal’, ‘deformed’ and ‘deviant’. Although I understand that to guide someone you need to name what you think may help you develop a strategy, these terms are far from neutral. By the way, these terms can be used to refer to me and some were used in my presence whilst talking about me …

So indirectly, policy discourages impairment (amongst other things) because it is perceived as undesirable. But who then does the policy that we’re talking about actually benefit? I will try to bring down the myth that making inclusion mandatory will benefit the ‘us’ or people with impairment. But first, we have to look at the policy that is built for a ‘healthy’ society, and I have to start an assessment test of course.

FOUR HOURS LATER…

Given that I used ‘health’ as my judging criteria, I can announce the people who’ve passed my test. As examiner I obviously cannot be tested. So here I go:

ADULTS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 20-50 with no history of MEDICAL CONDITIONS or who have IMPAIRMENTS or are PREGNANT have passed the test!

In other words, my results indicate that some of you reading this are not eligible to have rights because you fall out of the criteria that I have set. Sorry, please try again … better luck perhaps in another life …

I don’t mean to be overly simplistic, but in truth if you consider that babies are dependant on adults for a considerable period of time and that as a general rule adults over 50 start acquiring impairments, the reality is:

WE ARE BORN TO BE IMPAIRED …

And if it’s not an accident, or a disease, or like myself birth and medical reasons, the fact remains that impairment is something that is quite well, err…, normal really. But it’s only a fraction of our population that actually benefits from the current social structures. Unfortunately, some cling to their dream of a perfect world imbued with ideal order. And they fail to recognise that this is not only impossible but elitist. So why isn’t the truth regarding impairment as a fact in human life so eluding?

Mainly because we have institutions and bad pavements or inaccessible facilities. Added to that the idea that people with impairments or who are considered ‘unacceptable’ in the eyes of society are deemed less human.

So there! You see? The fact of human life is that we’re born to be impaired … there’s nothing essentially tragic or sad about it! It’s part of our mundane and everyday life.

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