There have been a lot of articles being published online lately, and even a TED Talk, dedicated to discussing this idea of being inspirational simply because a person is born with a disability.
I’ve gone back and forth in my own mind about how I feel about the subject. On the one hand, I think that anyone who is dealt a particularly difficult set of circumstances in life (i.e. a disability) should be considered inspirational for all of the things they have to deal with physically and from the world on a daily basis. If that person is willing to share their story in an effort to help others, I think that also should be considered inspirational.
The more I read other people’s opinions on the topic though, the more I’ve gotten delving deeper and thinking about it. Maybe we shouldn’t be automatically considered inspirational just because we happened to be differently abled. Perhaps we should just be considered to be a human being just like anyone else. Just because we’re born with something like MD doesn’t automatically mean we’re inspirational. It just means we’re a person. There are people who are disabled who are complete jerks just like people who have full mobility. I think at the end of the day, we all just want to be considered equals and want to be treated as human beings. So I think the point a lot of these speakers and authors are trying to make is that it can be isolating for us or set us apart to consider us inspirational solely on the fact we have a disability. I admittedly don’t 100% subscribe to this position but I definitely think it has some merit and is most definitely worth having a conversation about.
I feel it pertinent to mention that I don’t consider myself inspirational just because I blog here or share my story. It’s an incredible compliment when someone tells me that I am, but I consider myself just a person sharing my story and trying to help others while being the imperfect mess I am at the same time!
Another area that’s being frequently discussed that I agree with a little more vehemently is this idea of praising someone for treating a person with a disability as just that, a person. You see posts about the guy who helped feed a disabled person at McDonald’s or things like that. Is that an extremely kind gesture? Of course! But I think we’re getting stuck in this pattern of praising people simply for treating someone else as they should be treated. It’s sad that we’re so used to people being treated horribly, especially people who are different, that it seems so newsworthy when someone treats someone else like a human being (disabled or otherwise). Those kinds of stories should be rule, not the exception. And really, people shouldn’t be considered heroes just for being nice to someone else or treating them as they deserve to be treated.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject! How do you feel about all of this?
(Click here for the TED Talk by Stella Young that sparked this internal debate for me)