Destroy the Myth of Being Unable

In Mind, Body & Spirit, Pushing Forward by Marelise Prinsloo Jacob

Remember when you were at school? Everything seemed so orderly, in a way. You knew your place in life, and every one else’s. Your mission in life was to get up early, go to school, get homework, get home, do your homework and then spend the rest of your day doing exactly just what you felt like. Everyone else’s mission, however, was to make sure you had food to eat, a television to watch, clothes to wear. You didn’t worry about that – you didn’t need to, most of you anyway.

The point is, you never really thought about life after school until you absolutely had to. For most people, life after school is scary enough; maybe you won’t see your friends again, maybe you won’t make new friends, maybe you won’t get a job, maybe you’ll get a really boring job like your parents. But at least you’ll get money, right? You’ll get paid, you can buy the things you’ve always wanted to buy, like having chocolate wafers for dinner.

But what if you’re disabled? Then what, do you really have the same future ahead of you? Not likely. Being born disabled and becoming disabled are two very different things. When you become disabled through an illness or accident, it means that all your life up until that point you had the mindset of a normal person. Meaning simply you did and thought the scenario I described above.

Now that you’re disabled, you’re (hopefully) not going to sit in a heap and wait to die. No, you know what your life was like before and what you wanted for yourself in the future, so you’re going to try and get it.

But when you were born disabled, everything changes, doesn’t it? Sometimes you go to a normal school, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get to study further, sometimes – most times – you don’t. Sometimes you get a job, a kind of job reserved for people like you.

Nothing too difficult, nothing too serious. Nothing that will ever get you anywhere in life. Sadly, those who do get jobs are just grateful that they’ve got a job. They’ve got an income, so who’s worried about the corporate ladder?

Why there is such an incredible gulf between the two groups, should be unacceptable, but isn’t. The world thinks disabled people can’t do anything properly anyway, and disabled people believes the world, sometimes. Or believes it is a pointless debate.

Why aren’t universities and colleges bustling with wheelchairs? Why aren’t there millions of disabled lawyers, architects, psychiatrists, engineers, graphic designers etc. etc. etc. out there? One can literally count the disabled living in the public eye on one hand. Stephen Hawkings, Natalie du Toit, Terence Parkin (both South African, thank you), uhm, the blind guy in the British parliament. Well, that’s about it, isn’t? Not much out there, is there?

The lack of ambition amongst the disabled is almost as shocking as the lack of understanding amongst the normal. Yes, it’s hard work, yes you get knocked down more times than you care to remember. But so does everyone else. It’s a tough world, yet people seem to get by somehow.

Being disabled is no excuse for anything.

Hopefully one day, there will come a time when the disabled will be a normal part of normal life. Hopefully one day the world (and the disabled community as well) will realize that being disabled, does not mean you are unable.

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