Disability and the false sense of saintliness

“Never ignore somebody with a disability, you never know how much they can inspire you.”

Take a look at the image above, what is it really saying? I know what it’s supposed to be saying, but I’ve never quite felt comfortable with the message. It’s supposed to convey the simple message of “Don’t ignore people with disabilities.”  Which is a nice sentiment in and of itself,  but what images like this actually do in my mind is project a false sense of saintliness onto the image of people with disabilities. If you look at the quote carefully, it hints at this notion that a person with a disability is inspiring by virtue of their having a disability.  Some people might actually see it this way, but most people who say things like this aren’t actually doing much thinking at all.  I don’t care what any of you say, we are no more or less saintly than you,  we don’t lead lives any more or less ordinary, and I don’t know about the rest of the disabled community, but I certainly don’t need to be told that I’m courageous just for going about my day.

People have said this kind of thing to me far too often, and the fact is that most of the meaning in the following context: they are trying to tell me that they could not imagine themselves having to endure it every day that which I myself endure, and to be perfectly honest, that says more about them than it does about me. That shows me that they themselves lack courage more than it shows me that I have an inordinate amount of anything. Let me leave you with this: people are either inspiring or uninspiring by virtue of who they are, not by virtue of what they’ve had to overcome. There are lots of  people who has been embittered by what they’ve had to endure, and I doubt they would inspire anyone. However, I know plenty more people who’s had to endure much worse things than having to sit in a wheelchair, and those people inspire me, disability or not.

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