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TOPIC: Thoughts and Experiences.

Thoughts and Experiences. 5 years 4 days ago #54984

Hey everyone.
This is not so much a debate as trawling for feedback.

So first, a bit of an intro to me, and what I think of disability in general:
I've always been drawn to interests related to disability, partially due to my own experience with Depression, Anxiety, etc. and the emotional disabilities they bring.
So I'm not a stranger to the cultural and personal effects of disability; though my specific experience or beliefs might differ.

1. Problems, not People:
But most basically, I think that disability, and the challenges and rewards it comes with, shouldn't define a person individually or in general. We shouldn't classify people by any select characteristics, in general.
But we do need to talk about, and classify, problems. And the merits and limits, the challenges and rewards, that come with disability (or really any other unique life experiences) should be recognized and valued in their own right.
Put simply, I definitely want to talk about problems; but I don't want to talk about people. People aren't the problem.

What does this mean to me?
I think that any person who 'identifies' by their disability or what-not, as the primary identifying factor of who they are, does a disservice to any other person who falls under that category in a small, but effective way. Treating someone based on a limited aspect of their person, whether as sub-human or superhuman, is still treating them as inhuman, and as such brings inhumane expectations.

I also believe that these issues can and should be spoken about; I have no problem with a youtube vlogger who identifies as blind; as long as his blindness is put into context with how he's a whole person. And really, I can't do anything about anybody else's identity - the important point here is, I think, an approach of looking for their whole-person value; and then to look at specific issues or gifts or what-not in context of that; regardless of what demographic or disability they might fall under.

Only by living that kind of approach can I influence others to do the same, anyhow.

In any case, this has some vexing, if interesting, effects on how a person can experience their DA. For some, because they identify by their disability, this can mean that any mention, or any omission, (or frustratingly, either) of their disability is met with insult and offense. But despite their protest, it's clear that this - their experience, their ability, etc. - is the only important difference in how they identify.

As much as I identify with these people, they drive me up the wall; because I can see the counter-productive effect they're having on the very cause they're trying to champion. In being an antagonist to anyone not of their particular group, they end up drawing and deepening lines, not building bridges. And often, again, this conversation usually gets lost in the discussion of WHO, not WHAT, is the problem - and any understanding is rarely reached, let alone talk of solutions.

2. Criticism, not Cynicism:
I believe that the biggest obstacle to human progress is cynicism about the value, importance, character, competence, or power of humanity and society. In other words, the biggest obstacle we have to overcoming social issues is assuming humanity is predisposed to being ignorant, or helpless, or ill-intentioned.

Not once have I seen or experienced a conversation where assuming ill-intent, poor integrity, poor character, lack of effort, poor competence or stupidity, etc. has been remotely helpful. And in not one instance have I, upon closer inspection, found that assumption to be true.
Assuming conspiracy, or malicious intent, is never helpful in overcoming social issues. Ever.

This is admittedly a personal belief; but not an invalid one, and not an unpopular or unfeasible one. I intend to prove it through my experience and efforts. Bias doesn't necessarily mean error; and I'm very intent on removing error in my own views.

I also believe that real, genuine, and critical debate and discussion are indispensable to overcoming our challenges as humanity. Not argument, blame, or sensationalism, mind you; but careful, conscious, involved conversation. Assigning Blame, Names, Shame; inciting 'Flame' (being inflammatory); or playing Games (being manipulative or ingenuine) are never effective or useful tools to actually understanding or solving problems.

We should care about what we believe, but also how we talk about it, and why it matters.

3. Analyzing Disability:
I believe that disability, on a whole, is a general human condition. There are some that are more visible or invisible; there are many that are issues of minority. These may come about personally or socially, physically or otherwise. But as a whole, every human being is affected by a personal, unique set of disabilities, challenges, and abilities. These are distinct in value, but equal in validity.
Thus, I believe there's little value in comparing people according to their disabilities; especially not for the purpose of deciding whose experiences are real or worth considering.

On that note, there are a few ways I like to see disabilities.

My main thought here is on a visibility scale.
Put basically, the social aspect of a visible v.s. invisible disability is opposite in experience, but similar in effect.

Visible Disabilities are often hard to see past, and those who have them seem to have to constantly argue that there is more to them than their disability. It is easy to see a 'blind person', not a 'person with blindness'.
On the other hand, unfortunately, this common misunderstanding can lead to the same offense-seeking attitude I mentioned earlier; if you attribute or mention anything related to their disability, you are now the bad-guy. It doesn't matter if it's a matter of pity or praise; if you mention their disability, it's assumed you're attributing their entire personal value to it.

Invisible Disabilities are just about the opposite. In my experiences with mood disorders, I've had to constantly argue that these things exist and are valid to my experience and capabilities. And when I do, it's hard to get past the assumption that I'm arguing for my complete helplessness as a human being, the opposite end of the spectrum. Because I'm not.
I want to be treated with dignity and humanity, but my challenges are no less real simply because they aren't visible.
In my case, I've had the opposite experience as with the V.DA's - I try not to blame people for misunderstanding, but I do get frustrated when my issues and gifts aren't specifically validated. And further, I have difficulty acknowledging any complement or concern - or even talking about anything other than my issues.
Which can lead to some uncomfortable situations. :S If funny.


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