This might sound insensitive but all the “Differently abled people are heroic” talk is a little sickening after a point. It sounds very nice and inspirational but deep down, we are doing the very thing that we claim to be fighting against. Differently abled people are asking you to redefine what is normal.They just want you to treat them like the guy/girl next door. But with this obsession with making heroes out of differently abled people, our message sounds something like this: ” People like you are not supposed to be doing this! This is not normal. And you have done this, so, salute to you, man!” The more heroic this person becomes, the more ‘abnormal’ he/she becomes.
It’s funny how we protest against society’s obsession with comparing individuals but end up doing the same. There is outrage when society compares a mentally challenged child with a ‘normal’ child and laughs at the former. We say: everybody is unique, don’t compare!
But when there is some dance competition and there is a differently abled person and a normal person, we start comparing the ‘struggles.’ Are we saying that the differently abled boy can never win that dance competition because of his talent and so, he needs ‘our’ alms i.e. sympathy? So basically, it’s we who create this drama: first, make the differently abled people’s life hell and then make a hero out of him/her. The alternative? Treat these people normally, don’t be mean to them and there won’t be any need for heroes. We might not like this alternative because this would require US to change.
There are some religions that say that differently abled people are suffering because of ‘Bad karma’ from past births i.e. they are in a way responsible for their condition and hence, should be shunned. Rational people hate such irrational statements. But if you truly believe that these people didn’t choose their condition, why do you use it to compare ‘struggles’ and measure ‘greatness?’
I read some comments on the photo of an acid attack victim’s marriage. People are calling the guy courageous. Wait, are you saying that it takes courage and not love to marry an acid attack victim? Are you saying that the guy has sacrificed something to marry her (both the partners have to sacrifice something, right?)? You want that girl to be indebted to this man because she is not supposed to be treated like a human being (forget romance, that’s just not possible, right?)? I’m sorry but marriage or any relationship is between equals. If you think that you are more courageous or more compassionate than your wife or friend, you will always treat the other person as inferior: it’s just that you are doing this in a very subtle way.
The moment you do something: whether it is standing up for someone’s rights or do your bit to make this world a better place, people jump to compare your action with others.
You stood up against misogyny at your workplace? Oh, you could do that because you had that privilege. A person who is in desperate need of a job couldn’t have done that. You contributed to a charity? You are rich, what’s the big deal!
If you are poor, it’s not your fault. But if you were born in a rich family, it is your fault? If you are poor, you don’t have the privilege of choices but if you are rich…wait! THAT is the point, right? You are rich and you had the choice to do something else, but you are STILL making a choice to bring electricity to a village. Isn’t that good enough?
What do you want these people to do? Should the rich child leave his parents and live on streets to win this, “I have more problems than you” contest? Should the ‘normal’ person cut his leg?
I understand that heroes are needed and celebrating them is important too but we should look at the messages that we are sending out.
Differently abled people don’t have ‘more’ or ‘less’ problems. They have different set of problems.