When I was able-bodied and ran marathons I was just one of 50,000. I only got recognition if I won and pity if I fell, yet lately because my partner runs alongside me we have been hearing a lot of “oh I don’t know how their kind do it” and “wow you’re doing well. I didn’t realize your kind could do this.” Right now, I’m involved in a conversation on Facebook where many disabled are telling their stories about comments of pity and derision made simply because they exist and happen to be out shopping. Why is this?
We are intelligent and driven enough to overcome the worst of our disabilities. We have lifted ourselves from spinal units and rehabs centers, from hospital beds to marathon finish lines and the top of rockwalls unassisted. If the “ablest” community had even the slightest idea of what that takes someone to achieve, let alone the effort to convince corporate America that we are still a viable commodity worth investing a management level wage in to make them money, they would salute not pity.
We the disabled go through more in one morning, just to be sitting on the subway beside you, than you go through in an entire year.
In the 60’s people looked at the color of the skin and equated it to stupidity and second class, they were wrong. All through history comments like “women can’t be trusted they get stupid once a month,” were equally wrong. That as we know is also ridiculous. We, as a community for the most part have thrown these beliefs into the garbage bin of history. Now it’s time to do the same to the belief that wheels under our asses drains the cerebral ability to the point of non-compus mentus.
We are citizens, We didn’t lose our degree when we lost use of our legs. We didn’t lose our decades of training when the car hit a tree or the IED went off under our hummer in Iraq. We sure as hell didn’t lose our chutzpah, In fact it has increased by a factor of a thousand. Look at us from the point of view that you are the top of Everest and we climbed from base camp just for the interview, and with our drive we have the ability to summit every time you ask. So judge the person not the width of the wheelbase.