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

Friday, August 27, 2004

Deconstructing disability:aging

A colleague of mine, Dr. Nancy Contrucci and I met briefly today to discuss common research interests. In the midst of that discussion, we began talking about prefall/postfall notions of disability. She brought up the issue of aging.

In the post fall condition, aging carries with it the idea of diminishing faculties (trust me, I know) be they physical or mental. The question is what were the prefall conditions associated with aging? One must assume that many of the reasons which can result in diminishing faculties were present pre fall. I can still fall and hurt my knee, or bang my head and hurt my head. Obviously there was the possibility that I could make decisions which could be detrimental to me even though they might not have caused death as did the decision toward disobedience. Pain receptors were pre fall, I would assume, in order to teach us safety. Bleeding and clotting I would assume, were pre fall to heal injuries the body received in life. Redundant bodily systems were present to compensate for loss. New fingernails could be grown should one be injured and fall off, and baby teeth were shed when adult teeth came in.

Yet, I would assume only one set of adult teeth came with any adult, and nerve damage was irreparable. You probably couldn't inadvertantly get a stick in your eye and hope to grow another.

Obviously there was a dramatic difference before and after the fall in innumerable ways. However, did the immune systems which are built into people to fight disease only arise after the fall when disease could kill? Was blood clotting only necessary after the fall as no one was ever injured before? Did no one ever stub their toe and loose a toenail before the fall?

These are important questions because they speak to the role that human differences, expressed by societal construction as "disabilities" may have in God's design of human beings.

We must always keep in mind that an omnipotent God is not surprised by anything in his creation, so the notion of disability, whether congenital or adventitious (the result of aging or disease, injury, etc.), is not something that took him by surprise, and bodily correction of injury appears to be planned for to a significant degree as evidenced by the systems for repair observable in our bodies. We experience repair when our systems return us to a place of normalcy as compared with the rest of people. If our systems cannot bring repair, we might be characterized as experiencing disability or in more severe cases death. This disability might be short term, like a broken arm, or last indefinitely as in cognitive disability. We know for sure that death came as a result of the fall, so someone severely injured prior to the fall must have either experienced healing, or was maintained in a living state while continuing to experience the injury, which hardly sounds like paradise.


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