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

Monday, May 28, 2007

THIS IS THE TRUTH

How many times I have found myself saying this after someone has told me something about myself. Or else read an article. Or even watched a TV programmed. What truth?

Well, I cannot but say that I was a confused child, and was even more so when I started off hitting the age of 13. I won’t reveal anything that is private, secret or intimate here of course. I have my standards. But then, what am I all on about?

I have grown to believe that I am a unique person with things that no other person can give to the world. So far so good… but then if I should for a minute mention my impairment … well… hey presto…

“I You must be quite brave to go on living given your condition, not to mention you are unable to walk properly…”

Intended to make me feel good about myself, or:

“Your cross is an inspiration to all of us…”

Uttered by a member of the church. If only he knew what went through my mind… but a classic one is of course:

“WHAT A SWEET CHILD…” (Pat on the head)

How’s that for my self-esteem? How will I ever recover from such a persistent traumatic experience… can this ever stop? Nope. I guess.

But as every self-respecting disabled person can tell you, all this doesn’t help you a single bit when you’re out making friends. Or even making contact via Internet. I sometimes wonder whether it’s foolish of me to state in my profile that I’m a disabled person. I could be so many people. Yes, really.

But it’ll be fun for a while. Until I’ll have to return back to be myself. And then what… I do not know how to describe myself. I change so rapidly. Err… if I relied on others to make their minds up about who I am. I’ll blame my impairment of course. For confusing other people.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

THE DISABLED SELF

As I progress with my writing on my MA, it seems that certain questions keep surfacing over and over again. My research topic has changed from my interest in the inclusive educational experience to a more radical (and controversial) – relationships and sexuality.

I must say that this area may be considered a more personal and private affair than others (pardon the pun). However, I am all too familiar with the many times that I felt excluded from the discourse of relationships and I found there are many reasons for that.

At the core of it all, however, remains the reluctance to admit that disabled people are sexual or even that they should be sexual. I have noted resources that chronicle the forced sterilization of disabled people, especially people with an intellectual impairment, who were considered a threat to public health and even social order.

We may not go that far in realizing that this trend of asexualisation of our experience is still with us today. I was very disappointed in the fact that the Ashley treatment was not met with outright condemnation and outrage. I have tried to answer why.

I think the fact that disabled people’s humanity is sometimes doubted or downright put into question plays a crucial role here. But apart from that, as who we are as disabled people is often shaped by our society – and even when we face the fact that much of what they say about us is based on myth and fantasy – it’s difficult to get out and admit that we have a rightful place here.

That right even extends to the matters of sexuality because it’s there where our humanity is perhaps more put into question. Questions such as:

Can we ever be responsible parents?

How are we going to cope in a relationship?

Disabled people should not bring more of their kind into the world.

\Are all examples of things people think and sometimes talk about in secret perhaps or openly in extreme right wing factions. And yet, our humanity includes within it a right to be identified as male or female, and by extension our reclamation of our sexual identity should be recognized as part of our struggle, together with our barriers to other areas of life.

Impairment is not saying that we are not sexual in any way. It’s not saying that we are, for all intents and purposes, eternal children. It is not saying that we do not need friends, companionships and why not, sex…

Impairment is saying that we are different, that we may do things in an original way, and that our normality is err ‘rare’. I have been single for as long as I remember. And it gets lonely sometimes. But I’d rather find someone who values me as a man rather than people who have treated me like a child or like I was some sort of guy with ‘special needs’. I am not that guy.

“I am who I am!” were the words God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites. As people are still being killed in the Holy Land, I can say that those words are still misunderstood and used for war or oppression. I am who I am. And my impairments have made me who I am today as well. Denying them would be denying all the experiences and values I have acquired through them.

However, forces that rob me of my individuality, my character and my sexuality have often disabled my identity. This is the time to ask myself who I am to what and myself I can do to be that man…

Monday, May 07, 2007

REMEMBERING...
THE CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

I have been interested in the history of the holocaust since my teenage years. Not because I have a morbid fascination with death or mass extermination, but because I wanted to understand why… why did it all happen? How and for what reason?

I know that it was the eugenic idea that some races were better than others… that some physical characteristics are more desirable… that some people should be sacrificed for the achievement of an ideal. An ideal of human perfection.

Yes, that’s all history… The extermination of people with impairments through the T-4 programmed … Jews, Gypsies, gays… political opponents of the NAZI party… yellow stars… ghettoes… swastikas and gas chambers. History.

Yet, the question still remains… why? And of all those human beings who have been silenced, why the children? And once again I am dumbstruck and cannot explain it away. Children stripped of their dignity, of their identities and killed en masse because they were not part of the ‘accepted’ kind.

Children used for experiments, for slave labor and for testing new methods of murder. And yet I shiver, as I know that in our liberal world children are still the victims. Children frozen in clinical settings for later use. Children aborted at will.

And yet, we are ready to argue that these are not persons because they cannot speak or talk or even defend themselves. They are not persons because they are not capable of talking about who they are. Not children because they might have an impairment. Not children because they are unwanted.

Yet, the silenced children of the holocaust are still here. They are killed daily in the streets of Israel, of Sudan, of wherever there is conflict … they were there during the Armenian genocides or during Pol Pot’s reign … I may forget where else. But they are also in our ‘civilized’ Europe and in our sterile hospital buildings.

But their destruction is not meaningless. Only why they were destroyed was. But then, we will never know who they were. Ever.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

MEMORIES

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.