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

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

"What would you change about yourself?"

If the average person were to look upon someone with an intellectual disability, they would see that impairment as perhaps the defining characteristic of that individual's life.  They would also, no doubt, see that impairment in myriad negative ways.  Hence the fervor for prenatal diagnosis and abortion of people having the characteristic of intellectual impairment.  One only needs to consider the "impairment" down syndrome to see this fervor.  But, how do people who have this characteristic called intellectual disability feel about themselves? 
Surely they would agree with those with "normal" intelligence that their lives are terrible because they have that characteristic. 
Surely they would do anything to not have that characteristic. 
Surely they see themselves as the pitiable souls that they are.

Or do they?

You know, it would be instructive to ask them how they feel about themselves.  If we were willing to understand how they feel about their lives, could that possibly impact how those of us with typical intellect might also feel about them?  One would hope so. Think about other people who have been or continue to be devalued.  As a man, should I simply project on women how I think they feel about their lives because they are not men?  Surely they all wish they were men like me.  How about people of different races or ethnicities than myself.  Should I project on them how I think they feel about their lives because they are not the same color as I am.  Surely they all wish they were the same color as me.  Those two statements are very offensive and no one in their right mind would state them. 

However, those of us without intellectual impairments think we know how those with intellectual impairments think about themselves.  We think we know how much they would desire to be different then they are.  We can get away with those projections on this particular devalued group, because it is OK to see people with disabilities in a negative light.  It is OK to project my perceptions on them.  It is OK even to take their lives on the basis of my projections of who I think they are and how I think they perceive themselves.  I can't get away with such pronouncements in the other areas mentioned above, but regarding people with disabilities there is no condenmation for my perceptions.  Why?
Obviously they are suffering, right?
Obviously they wish they were more like me, right?
Obviously they would choose nonexistence over being born or living with an intellectual disability, right?
I mean it is obvious, right?

If you really think those things, click on the link below and have your eyes opened.
I wish we would listen to people to find out what they think instead of projecting on them what we think.
May God forgive us...