“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"I bring awkwardness to the situation"

A student of mine made a presentation in class this past week. He was relating a Bible passage to the experience of disability. Just in passing, he made a comment that on one level was obvious but on another was really profound. He said that when he meets someone with a disability, "I bring awkwardness to the situation." This is really pretty profound. The person with the disability by themselves is not necessarily awkward in their social interactions with familiar people. The same with my student. However because of how he has been socialized, or because of his preconceived notions, or his unfamiliarity with people with disabilities, when he interacts he brings awkwardness, something that would not be there if he didn't bring it, to the interaction.

That is an important observation as once again, it is reflective of who people unfamiliar with people with disabilities are, it is not reflective of people with disabilities themselves. Now clearly people with disabilities are just people themselves so they may feel awkward in a social situation just like anyone else. But in the context we are considering, one person has a characteristic called impairment, and the other person once again is unfamiliar with that characteristic so they bring awkwardness to the social situation.

The good news is that familiarity with people who are different from yourself, whatever your characteristics are and whatever their characteristics are will lead to a break down of the unfamiliarity leading to awkwardness. So you can change! You don't have to be awkward.

Just remember if you could make the same statement as the title of this post, that is a reflection of who you are, not a reflection of who a person with a disability is.


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