Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Despairing Inspiration

Read the story here
In The New York Times today an article titled "Managers Inspire Villanova Teams, and a Film" begins ...
VILLANOVA, Pa. — The chant started in the student section and spread through the Pavilion before Villanova hosted Pittsburgh in basketball here last month. An ESPN feature had played on the video boards, and as the building shook with a singsong “Nick and Frank-ie!” Wildcats Coach Jay Wright wiped away tears. 
 Ah, another inspiration story, I thought. And it was. Both young men have cerebral palsy, and their physical movement is hampered. Both seem to be intelligent. Each serves as a manager for one of the Villinova University basketball teams.

But that's not enough. They are inspiring.

But that's a heavy load to stick in the saddlebags of anyone's wheelchair. For one thing it is confusing, a quality difficult to pin down, a quality that may or may not be better recognized than any other human quality.
I'd state the conundrum from my own point of view: I'm a crip. I use a wheelchair. I don't like it, but I accept it. I act within my limits. I accept The Great Is of reality, and don't complain too much. 

Am I inspiring? 

Fine, but let's imagine that I also swear like a drunken sailor, lie and deceive to get my way, and abuse drugs and alcohol. 

Am I still inspiring?

To label a person with a disability as "inspiring" may in some measure suggest that the person cannot exist in your world with the normal human foibles.


Glynis Jolly said...

Why can't you just be gracious and accept the good will that's being offered to you?

Anonymous said...

Hi- Thought you might like this story. My daughter is 9 and a wheelchair user. We went to a weekend family camp and she was awarded a certificate for "Most Inspirational Camper." I was a little annoyed and thought- oh boy, here's where it all starts.
When we were driving home, she was expressing curiosity about why she received the award. Rather than give my adult answer, I just said, "Hmmm, why do you think?" She said, "I don't know, maybe it's because I'm good at art or something?" I loved it!