Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Defining Disability

An article currently on the Fox News homepage has sparked what will, no doubt, be an endless stream of discussions regarding the proper definition of "Disability." I am sure once everyone puts in their two cups of sugar and the P.C. movement rolls in to ice the cake, we will all be more confused than we ever were to begin with.

Some of the questions being asked are:

1. What does it mean to be disabled?
2. How should "normal" people react to those with disabilities?

My brain has no choice but to shift into its hyper-philosophical mode when I read questions like that. I understand that disabilities are real. It is a tangible concept and the fact is, some people have them and some do not. But that fact not withstanding, my rebuttal question would be,

What does it mean to be normal?

Three observations:

1. We cannot put every human being into two cut-and-dry categories as general as "disabled" or "normal." There are scads of strange people roaming the planet who have no legitimate "disability" but they are also far from "normal."

2. There are also people in the world who are legitimately disabled who, by every definition of the word, are completely "normal."

3. Treating disabled people with love and respect is not a lesson simply for the strong and healthy. (It's not like we disabled people cannot also be unengaging, judgmental, shy, socially akward, or clueless at times ourselves)!

I think it comes down to common decency. If you don't like being treated like you're a moron, then chances are other human beings -- normal and disabled alike - also don't appreciate it. That should be your guide -- the good ole Golden Rule -- treat people the way you hope to be treated. It's all pretty simple.



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