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

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I recall a time when what I am doing now would have been unimportant or even irrelevant. Last week I met a woman who knew me as a 5-year-old boy as I attended her same school until I was nine or so. It was funny to realize that things would change so much from that time till today.

I am now doing lots of work, including school session and this week I had to attend a conference, which was later, broadcast on TV. Cool? Not really as I find it difficult to watch myself on TV. But it is clear that this time of unwritten posts is one in which I had time to think about life and of course do some good writing for my dissertation… But what is the purpose of it all?

I said that I might not have placed so much importance on what I’m doing now… and that’s really working to affirm my position as a society both because I believe that my impairment is part of who I am whatever they might say and that I sincerely believe that disability is not simply an outcome of my impairment.

And yet, as children we do not yet know why we are separated from each other. If not physically, then by means of language. A language that describes the ‘us’ as ‘deformed’, ‘abnormal’ and ‘special’. And ‘them’ as ‘healthy’, ‘normal’ and ‘mainstream’. And even if we are made to believe that we are not different from others, we are talked to and treated as if we were not really human.

But children do not distinguish until they are older. They do not create classes; define others in terms of acceptability or desirability. There is no word for that. I am indebted to language for teaching me about the world of course. But then, it has also been used in history to destroy rather than build bridges between people.

The memories of my first years at school are blurred but pleasant. I wonder why. Perhaps it was because I did not know what grown ups could get up to. Or because I did not really know the implications of who I was to others or how knowledge could change my world forever.

But then, is not the struggle against exclusion a wish to return to that state in which diversity was interesting, not threatening? To a state when everyone mattered and not those in power? I do not know. But they are memories that drives me on and perhaps will push me on till the end.


Ziggi said...

I enjoyed the post but would like to disagree on your observation of "But children do not distinguish until they are older. They do not create classes; define others in terms of acceptability or desirability."

I guess I grew up in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Coming from a poor melting pot neighborhood left me with very different childhood memories. Mine include very young kids who clearly parsed and classed each other at extremely young ages.

American, Polish, Italian, German, Jewish, Hispanic, and Irish kids grouped across ethnic lines. Avoiding the other groups. Making fun of the strange names. Taunting each other about the broken English of their parents. Poor kids being made fun of for wearing hand-me-down clothes and kids with Polio being treated as outcasts because they couldn't run or climb or jump.

Ask any adult who grew up in a poor melting pot neighborhood when they were nailed with their first slur and who nailed them. Other kids, and at an age so young they probably can't remember that far back.

There was inclusion within ones own group. But that's not true inclusion.

You can teach a kid to hate, to exclude or to include in no time at all. We teach them these things long before they grow up.