Thursday, January 8, 2015


What is the premise behind “motivational speaking”? I ask because I see a lot of disabled people online who identify themselves, in part, as a “Motivational Speaker”.

I have a basic idea of what that might mean in practice. I picture a disabled person who speaks to groups about living with a disability, in a positive way, in order to energize their audience into making their own lives better. But that would seem to presume certain things, that are often unstated.

Is it that disabled people who are happy and successful have some universal secrets of happiness and success that others crave?

Is it that tons of people of all kinds live lackluster, messed-up, sad and unproductive lives that need some sort of attitudinal improvement?

I feel like there may be some truth in both of these ideas. However, I also get the sense that it’s a mistake to accept the truth of these premises wholesale, without critical thought. I certainly don’t believe that disability automatically brings great insights into how to live. Nor do I subscribe to the rather popular notion that vast swathes of modern humanity have somehow forgotten to live.


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