Theory of relativity

When you go out in the world, you can find some pretty awful people, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. To one extreme, there are all sorts of criminals who coldly hurt others in as many ways as there are laws. To another, children are pretty mean; they will shamelessly tell you the most cruel truths, without tact or compassion to soften the blow.

But, in my experience, every single conversation I’ve had with a person with disabilities has only ever been delightful. It’s as if in the game of life, the dealer said I’m sorry, you are going to have this disability, and… an incredible personality! (the guy who pulls the strings up there sounds a lot like the guy from “Price is Right”).

It makes the saying “it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person” feel almost like a cruel joke.

But the fact of the matter is that disability teaches compassion. The way we glorify “humanity” would make it seem that compassion is part of the human condition. But I don’t believe this is true; I don’t believe human beings are inherently compassionate. I believe that compassion is learned (–that’s why children don’t have it down very well).  It is learned from personal pain and suffering. You can’t teach pain, you can only experience it. So, those who experience the most pain become the pinnacle of the “human condition”. Isn’t it kind of funny that injury or illness can help you realize your “humanity” more fully than if you were healthy?

But it turns out it’s way more true than I ever believed before! And I have proof:

  • People who are hard of hearing learn to read lips. That is not to say any other seeing human being aren’t capable of doing this. Instead, lip readers realize a greater potential for themselves.
    This calls into question, for me, which person is disabled. Hearing isn’t a choice, but lip reading is. Put those two people in a loud room: one can communicate easily and the other has to yell and scream over the noise before communicating something vaguely related to the message they wanted to relay. 
  • Some blind people have learned a sort of echo-location skill. By making a clicking noise, they are able to accurately identify obstacles and can even be able to walk unescorted.
    This skill is not unique to the blind; again, this is a skill any hearing person can learn. Yet, only a few of the blind do. Now, in some dire circumstances — blackouts for example — the non-echolocating people become disabled and the echolocating become abled.

I think this all goes to show that disability is all relative. Being disabled is about what you CAN do as much as it is about what you can’t. Even more. Disability might just be a reason to more fully realize your potential.

Finally, to start your Monday morning off right, I will leave you with this video. It’s super funny and shows just how hard lip reading is! If you like it, there’s more where that came from. Check out the YouTube channel dedicated to bad lip reading.

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