Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

Define “Disability”

with 2 comments

I was home sick over the last week, and had a lot of time and fever to lie around pondering philosophical questions…

…like, what is disability?

My mom, whom I am going to keep using as a reference whether I mean to or not, hurt for most of her adult life, and could hardly breathe or walk for the last few years. Yet, she never considered herself to be disabled. I found out how she had to use a towel to turn her key when she started her car, because her hands were so mangled from rheumatoid arthritis. Some call that an accommodation, may even find some better solution. Some don’t bother, and call it getting the job done.

But I thought more of this after kicking back with NPR on the old radio, listening as I like to, to This American Life. And wouldn’t you know it this week.. the program was all about disability.

Instead of listening to me ramble on for too much longer, please go listen. Ira Glass talks with Chana Joffe-Walt of Planet Money, who hopefully will take this stuff to the big time, meaning, beyond the realm of people who already know how discouraging it is to try to live a normal life as a person with a disability. I hope this will bring attention to the impossibility of being a person with less-than-optimum health and less-than-optimum education. Golly, can we do no better than this? I always think…

You see, I hear about places like the poor town portrayed in this episode, and I’ve lived in or near a few of them. People work hard, physically hard, do what they are supposed to do, and eat what they are accustomed to eating. In years past, even in my childhood, there was some wholesome aspect to it all, but as factories closed, as high fructose corn syrup got put into everything, as satellite dishes and video games replaced the outdoor sort of entertainment I remember, hope seems to have evaporated in towns like this. I exaggerate, perhaps. Or not. I stereotype. I apologize. There is always more to the story, and nuances that are missing. But still, it is hard not to look for something, when so many people are in such tough circumstances.

But is this what it means to define oneself as “disabled”? Is this all there is?

Ticket To Work?

Is it impossible in general to escape not only disability, but to escape poverty in general? It takes a really good job–a huge leap in most cases–to be able to survive beyond the world of TANF and SSDI (or SSI).

Work and love.. Freud said that these are the two things we need to be content in life. If we take that ability away, are we truly fulfilling our own Declaration of Independence?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

And indeed, are we not creating inequality? Are we denying equality?

Just asking…


Written by Only Anecdotal

25 Mar 2013 at 10:00pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It is not good to take away the ability to work. Seems that instead of creating jobs people can do we are creating new stats! This article talks about the reality gap.


    27 Mar 2013 at 6:20pm

    • Thanks for your comment. This is exactly what I mean.. Numbers can be manipulated to hide a multitude of truths. It may seem that the economy is getting better. Or people who have disabilities who want to work may just get swept underneath the “relevant” job numbers. After all, if we do not count it, we do not talk about it.

      I know–see–people who really cannot work who have trouble getting onto SSDI. On the other hand, I also see a lot of people who simply can no longer do the sort of work that they used to do, or who may even have been retrained to do something else, but now with a disability are unable to find work. It is an enormous problem.. accommodations in many cases would not be difficult or expensive, and even when they are, they may create a place for still more people who are eager and willing to work, but who are deemed to be “unfit” because they are seen only as a disability, and not as a person.

      Only Anecdotal

      27 Mar 2013 at 7:23pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: