Why is it so many of us feel like we can judge others...yet we are the same. Why is it we look differently at a man in a wheelchair to a man who walks freely? They are the same. They both breathe, we all see, hear and feel emotions in reaction to our surroundings....So why do we not see our fellow man as just that, normal stranger passing us in the street....no matter what stance they pass in.
When we pass the person using the crutch, a blind man walking his dog or a woman using an electric scooter, why do we feel ashamed to stare? Is it that our minds tell us not to or do we fear insulting them if we dare? I do not see why this simple social behavior or curiosity to take a closer look or to perhaps glance over should be seen as offensive in any way shape or form. You would look at any other human being as they pass you, you would not overt your eyes to a “healthy” and “able” man; so why would you if they are disabled in a way?
When I am using my crutch for support to go get my brother from after-school club or when I am out with my friends I see the way people look at me. Is it pity or is it shame and disgust? The realization that is it in fact you who are out of place hits home. Is it right that we who are disabled should feel cut off from society and feel watched by creeping eyes as we walk the few steps from the car to the shop? On the inside we are the same. We have a heart, a soul… we experience the same things as anyone else; we simply have to reach further to achieve it. I often wonder what goes through somebody’s head when they see me; walking in crutches. I do this by relating back to how I see someone in a wheelchair. I often ask myself, how do they feel? Will they go round me? Should I say hi? Or thank you? What happened to them?
Once they pass I take a deep breath and let out my relief that I escaped that somewhat awkward situation and the feeling of not knowing. However the thing is I react the same way to whoever I am passing on the street, no matter what their situation or how they dress, who they are and what they do. I am always left not knowing how to react to their approach.
A disabled man still feels the earth beneath his feet. He was born like everyone else. He will live his life just like you, and he will die and be remembered for being a man. He will not be remembered as disabled or a mistake as I so often hear people refer to others who have a condition. In my mind everyone is equal and human, nobody is weak. Nor is anyone less worthy of your eye contact or a polite smile.
In school I remember the strange look on the faces of students, their confusion on how someone so young can have crutches for reasons other than unnecessary accidents in football. I am told people know I have “messed up legs” at the time this wording was somewhat amusing and reassuring. I knew that the lack of their comments meant they didn't see a difference. However when I went to school in a crutch, the younger ones often didn't care that I needed it for support and took so little notice in my ailment I would go into walls and often get elbowed or slide the stick along.
So when does acceptance become arrogance?
Teenagers should feel free to be who they are, and at Peebles high I felt like I was accepted, yet I hated taking my crutch into school knowing what to expect. My point is that people are the same but in some cases their difference should be taken into account. You would not push a strong man into a wall, why a disabled one? I for one am not as fragile as I look, but I do like respect.
I am a 16 year old teenage girl, as if it were not bad enough…I am disabled. However I refuse to believe that we can’t all accept and respect each other as equals, after all a man is a man. A human is a human. Yes we all live a different life, and there is no one person that is the same, but we all come from the same place, we all love, and hate. So the next time you pass a stranger disabled or not remember they are just like you…they are alive.
In conclusion why do we fear the confusion of disability?