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

Sunday, July 01, 2007

THE PITFALLS OF PITY

The month of June, which has just finished yesterday, brings back some painful memories I thought overcome. However, I guess that it’s in our nature to remember episodes of pain and pleasure. At least for me, such events are intrinsically linked to who I am today… But I digress… So why is the month of June painful to me?

If I am to answer this question, I need to take you back when I was about 10ears old. I was a boy like any other boy who enjoyed the company of friends and wanted to know as much as I wanted about the world I lived in. But something happened that would change all that. Something that would change my understanding of my society and world for the rest of my life.

And no, it wasn’t an accident or a strange disease which left me with a mobility impairment… thank you very much.

It was when on the local newspapers and media I get to know that my best friend had received a prize for ‘helping his poor crippled friend’ (me that is). I was speechless and betrayed. At first I blamed my friend for it and said I wouldn’t trust him any more. But then I knew that it was all about the way society viewed people ‘like me’ that was the cause of it all.

I suddenly felt inferior and felt betrayed by my teachers, my schools and all the institutions that supported this prize. Sadly, this prize goes on every year and guess what? Non-disabled boys and girls still receive this prize for ‘being friends’ to their disabled ‘less fortunate’ friends.

Whilst I don’t want to doubt the intentions of the children awarded this prize, I feel that this prize still sends across a message that disabled people are less worthy and if someone should befriend them it’s not because that particular disabled boy or girl has something to offer in a friendship but because the non-disabled boy/girl is indeed ‘generous’ and ‘kind’ for being with these children.

It took years and years for my friend and me to rebuild our friendship. Our relationship since then had received a hard blow. And yet, blaming him was the wrong thing to do. It was society that was to blame. The fact that I had suddenly been robbed of my individuality… of whatever made me the boy I was by reducing me to a ‘crippled’ boy… with nothing to offer or give jolted me into a reality I had tried to avoid dealing with.

I then turned to my impairment… was it really to blame?

Thus I came to dislike my body for a long time, whilst I felt slightly suspicious of others’ words and actions for some years after. And even if I’ve changed since then (hopefully y for the better), people don’t still get why it should hurt…
Isn’t awarding a prize for being my non-disabled friend implying that I should be thankful for you because I don’t deserve friendship in the first place?

Isn’t it also saying that I have no value because I’m disabled and so those non-disabled friends who spent their life with me are but sacrificing their time?

Finally, isn’t this also exalting the value of the non-disabled friend whilst debasing the disabled friend?

I am angry that so-called ‘adults’ always seek to impose their values and preconceptions on children whilst discriminating between the value of one over another by rewarding the non-disabled child at the expense of the disabled child. I think this is a thwarted interpretation of ‘kindness’ but it’s a good example of ‘pity’ at work. At the end of the day, both children become ‘puppets’ in the hands of those who want to appear holy and good.

PS: I have to say that there have been a lot of things keeping me busy right now which have prevented from blogging for a while. I’m at a crucial point in my studies when I need to focus more. Besides that, as every summer we move to the summer house I still got to get everything in order… including my internet connection...

4 comments:

andrea said...

Howdy Gordon!

Absolutely horrid feeling, isn't it? Most excellent rant and analysis you have here!

See what you think of these thoughts on the dreadful subject of pity:
http://qw88nb88.wordpress.com/2006/10/30/games-people-play-off-and-on-the-court/
http://qw88nb88.wordpress.com/2007/05/13/what-i-learned-from-the-bugs-alienation-and-othering/

Hope you have good results on the move, including getting your internetty up and running!

bint alshamsa said...

I can't even imagine how angry that would have made me too. I'm glad that you and your friend were able to have a relationship later on though. Society works against us in so-oo-oo many ways.

Anonymous said...

I think you should email this post to the newspaper/crazy ignorant organization that gives this 'award' out each year. What the heck are they thinking?
Sarah in Northern Canada

GordonGT said...

Yes, I've written to the local press in 2005 and 2006 on behalf of my organisation. Unfortunately, the prize is sanctioned by the highest institutions in our country (ie., church and state) which do not see anything wrong with this prize. At least they haven't said anything publicly.

As other readers have said, this is a frustrating fact that is difficult to challenge if you're barred from accessing the media or you are constantly misrepresented or used for other ends.