The world is fractured by isms, racism, sexism, classism, Christianity… Oh,wait that isn’t one is it? What about Christian fundamentalism? It doesn’t matter what word those three letters find themselves at the end of, they are probably three of the most divisive letters applied to any word in the English language. I’m going to talk to you about the ism as I see it, but before I do, I’d like to add another one to that list… ableism. It works just like all the others, just as sexism sees women as inferior to men simply for being women, just like classism says that a person deserves what they get because of the class they happen to inhabit, ableism says that in some regard I am less human than you, that somehow my differences make me inferior. These nebulous things… These three letters, they’re not sitting very well with you are they? They don’t sit well with me either. Because here’s what ableism says about me. It says that I’m in a wheelchair, and because I’m in a wheelchair I’m inferior. It says that I don’t contribute to society. And you know what? In some sense, it’s right. In some ways, I can’t contribute to society… Not because I don’t want to, but because society won’t let me. But this is nothing new, it’s just the nature of those three letters. It is a three letter wall, but I have a solution, the only trouble is I can’t take credit for it. This is probably the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned in my entire life, and I learned it from Bruce Lee.
Here’s what Bruce Lee said… I’m probably going to fuck it up, so bear with me. Be like the nature of water. Water erodes even the strongest rocks, if you give it enough time. It can overcome any obstacle in its way, with even the smallest weakness. Water is formless, it is shapeless, it becomes whatever it is held in. That is not to say that water is weak, quite to the contrary water is strong, persistent, and adaptable… And yet it is gentle at the same time, but it can become a true force of nature all the same. I’m going to take the sentiment from Bruce Lee just a little bit further. You can’t divide water from itself, unless you place the water into separate containers. That is what an ism is. It is taking the water that is the beauty of humanity, the humanity that we all share, the potential for the love that we all deserve and the fulfillment that we all seek, and dividing it into several containers, so that we are no longer connected. The solution is simple, tip the damn container over, and let our humanity, the humanity that you and I share be like the nature of water; gentle yet strong, persistent yet patient, adaptable yet indivisible and unweakened. That’s the nature of water, it’s the only way to defeat the ism as I see it.