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

Friday, January 11, 2008

To be or not to be: that is the problem
(apologies to WilliamShakespeare)

I think I've reached a point in my life when I need to find some answers to important questions about my life. You may call it an existential crisis if you wish. Perhaps I've been here before... which means I'm turning around in circles...

Of course, the questions are not simple and straightforward. It's not the case of taking measures, assessing my skills or the like. It's about the value of my life as a person. To myself. And to others,... Who am I really?

Apparently, the answers should be on my profile but then is that really all there is? Have I tried too hard in fighting for the right to be identified as a human being that I forgot what being human actually means? Have I overcome the prejudices of many 'professional' people who have chosen to weigh my personality against what they perceive as the 'problem' of impairment?
As I said in countkless lectures to various students, disability is socially constructed... Indeed, perceptions of impairment have resulted in:

Artists to exploit our differences for comic, tragic or allegoric purposes...
Moralists to speculate about the ills of the world they see manifested through us...
Faith healers to pray for us and perhaps 'heal' us...
Scientists to emphasize our 'defects' and attempt to find a 'cure'...

Indeed, can I fully detach myself from these views of impairment that I have grown to learn and even believe. Views that seem to throw at me a single conclusion:

YOU ARE NOT FULLY HUMAN! NOT NORMAL! NOT GOOD! NOT BEAUTIFUL! NOT CAPABLE OF FINDING HAPPINESS!
And, of course, the 'disadvantage' of my 'problem' - I am told - are complimented by my character and 'determination to prevail'.

But do I want to be dishonest and claim that impairment has contributed nothing to my life. Has it really been 'bad news', a 'tragedy'? Have I regretted the moment I realised I was the same person people talked about on the papers when I was 9 or 10? On the other hand, can I be thought of as a person without referring to my impairment?

Can I be a mind without a body? And that is my dilemma... for how can I be myself without my body? But, on the other hand, why is my body sometimes only understood as 'faulty' at best, or 'useless' at worst? Do I have to choose between agreeing with the professionals who claim they know me more than I know myself as theyforce their own assumptions... and influence others in the process? Or can I just choose to be myself? But then, how much of what I have learned about myself is truly my own?

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