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

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More on "disabled" by design

I appreciated the thoughtful comments posted in reference to the last blog. It is interesting and I also think important to ask whether differences which our society has categorized as "disability" are examples of human variation or the result of "the fall." I will freely admit that I do not entirely understand what the answer is to that question. Observations I have made include those in the previous blog as well as others made at other times in months past in the blog. For example, is aging, and the degradation of the body the result of the fall? Are accidents like the one that caused me to blow out my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) resulting in the bad knee I continue to have the result of the fall, or was there the possibility that someone could injure themselves to the point of having a bad knee pre fall?

As I said, I really am unsure, however, I am beginning to move in the direction of understanding differences called disabilities as a part of simple variations in the human race. When God says that his creation was "very good" does that mean that all of the human members of the creation were entirely equal in every way? At the very least, we know there were differences between men and women. At what point does a difference become a "disability?" History tells us that the number of persons labeled as disabled increased dramatically with the industrial revolution. That is, people who were within the "normal" range when all they had to do was have a strong back were now thought of as disabled in light of the demands of urban society. So one might ask, to what extent is "disability" a characteristic of an individual and to what extent is "disabilty" a reflection of the environment.

I recently saw the movie Ray about the life of Ray Charles. As I look at that movie, as I consider all that Mr. Charles achieved, I wonder at his "disability." In the range of visual ability, he was on the dark end of the scale, having lost his vision. So he had a severely diminished ability to perceive light. It is also true that he relied on persons in his environment to assist him throughout his life (as do I). But I kind of agree with his mother (as portrayed in the film) when she says something to the effect that "you cannot see, but don't become a cripple." Is the limited ability to see the result of the fall? I would think becoming a "cripple" is definately a result of the fall as it appears to reflect a lack of reliance on God, on oneself, and people. A person who is a "cripple" in the way that Ray Charles' mother implied is reflecting a negativity, a buying of the notion that one is less than created in the image of God. This notion is taught to a person, is pounded into a person by society and is society at its worst.

It has always struck me as ironic that people like me, who are largely within the normal range of ability levels, can look at our sin scarred selves with all the foibles and proclaim that we are created in God's image.

It also haunts me to come back to God's comment "who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind." Does God purposely create "imperfection" or do I need to change my definitions?"

. . . don't know, still working through it.


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