Monday, March 18, 2013


Many of us who have disabilities find it cringe-worthy when people say we are "inspirational". At the very least, it's strange to live a life that could be a topic for a "human interest story" or a made-for-TV movie sponsored by Hallmark.

The truth, I sometimes suspect, is simpler. To most non-disabled people, the details of the lives of people who have disabilities are BORING. I don't mean uneventful. I mean of little or no compelling interest to anyone but ourselves, immediate relatives, or certain professionals and specialists. I also don't mean that our lives and struggles should be seen as boring. Some aspects of our struggles really do have wider meaning and significance beyond our own direct experience.

What I mean is that many of our experiences are, truly, our own and no-one else's ... and that things that connect us with bigger ideas like equality, discrimination, and prejudice are just too hard to communicate well to others. We haven't reached the point where disability stories are stirring, exciting or even controversial enough to sustain most peoples' interest or engagement.

In some ways, that's a good thing. I'm not pining for some equivalent of a race riot or something. But despite the many great leaders we've had in the "disability movement", I haven't yet heard our Martin Luther King, Jr. And I hate the feeling I get whenever I start to describe much of anything of my disability experience to others ... the feeling that I'm putting them to sleep.

Worse than that, I often put myself to sleep, too.