I read an article today at Vox.com on why the Chinese government suppresses movements for democracy. The article asserts that they view China as fundamentally weak, threatened, and unstable. This leads them to value order above all and fear that even small increases in individual freedom will lead to society-wide chaos. This is based on a real history of devastating chaos and a rapid fall from unquestioned superiority to being carved up by outside powers.
Meanwhile, we in the United States tend to see China as a strong, vibrant, up-and-coming country, held back only by it’s own government’s outdated, repressive policies.
I think there is a lesson here for understanding people who oppose disability service reforms like phasing out sheltered workshops.
Many families' experiences of disability are suffused with fear, disappointment, betrayal, neglect, and a profound sense of the vulnerability of their disabled loved ones. Many disabled people also share this view about themselves.
Others in the disability community look at the overall situation and see it quite differently. They see that developmentally disabled people are demonstrably capable of more than they have historically been given credit for. Likewise, they see a society that, for all its faults and leftover prejudices, has largely gotten used to developmentally disabled people being visible and active in “mainstream" society.
Some view disability from a position of weakness and vulnerability. Others from a place of strength and possibility. Nether side is completely right or wrong. Both have ample reasons to justify their points of view, if not their preferred policies. It all comes down to how one chooses to look ahead … with pessimism or optimism.