A long time ago, I decided to start up a series. I lacked a catchy title, so I went with the mere truth: Things That Make My Life Easier.
What I meant by that is, of course, things that make my life with a disability easier.
Disability can introduce certain complications to a life — meaning that in reaching the same destination, a disabled person may have a bumpier, windier, more obstructed path than a nondisabled person. A disabled person may simply have more to deal with than hir nondisabled counterpart. And this is not inherent to hir condition: much of that difficulty, that obstruction, is constructed by a society that is built to suit a nondisabled person’s needs, concerns, and preferences. Some of it, to be sure, is difficulty that will never be eliminated, no matter the social context.
This means two things, things that are not at all contradictory but, in fact, must both be recognized for us to make any progress:
One, that disabled people face a great deal of difficulty that is ultimately the result of a society that cares more about the convenience of the comfortable than the comfort of the inconvenient;
And two, that disabled people may always face some amount more difficulty than their nondisabled peers due to the intrinsic nature of neurological and physiological variation.
Disability is an experience all its own. But at the same time, disability is not particularly [anything]. Disabled people are experiencing the same thing nondisabled people are, by the by: they are experiencing pleasure and experiencing pain; they are experiencing acceptance and experiencing rejection; they are experiencing stability and experiencing change. They are learning and expanding; they are teaching and demonstrating. They need food and drink, and the opportunity to get rid of bodily waste. They need shelter from the elements, a comfortable place to sit or lie. They need transport if they are mobile; they need a way to enter buildings; they need an effective method of communication with other people. They need social interaction; they need solitary time. They need intellectual stimulation; they need leisure and entertainment.
These are all things that nondisabled people need, too. They are not “special” needs. They are human needs. A core set of needs that we all share.
But these needs are not all met in the same ways.
This is the beauty of humanity, really: presented with a particular need, a set of people will take all manner of approaches, using all sorts of different resources available, finding all kinds of different ways to use them — different paths to the same end point. All paths take a toll on their travelers, while offering to those travelers certain advantages. It is up to the individual to weigh the costs and benefits of any specific way sie might take.
There is no moral weight to one path over another. That it harm none, do what you will. Whatever you are doing, so long as you harm no one else, it is good. Or, put another way: Whatever you are doing, however you are doing it, if it gets done, who the hell cares beyond that?
Next: A Reintroduction (Part 2 of 3)
Cross-posted: three rivers fog, FWD/Forward, Feministe.