Friday, July 6, 2012

Never Abort a Super-Crip

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I ain't much for protesting, not in public anyway, and not much personally unless the other fellow has a relatively open mind. Can't tell you why. Was raised as a "seen, not heard" kid and immediately turned dependent upon reaching adulthood.

That doesn't mean I don't revere the people mad enough to man the barricades. Mike Ervin has been there, and he also writes Smart Ass Cripple, something of a left-handed take on the idea of what happens when a person lives disabled in this world.

This week Mike's writing got a boost from famed critic Roger Ebert who writes a blog on the Chicago Sun-Times site. I was interested in one of Mike's mini-essays that Ebert cited, "Coulda Beena Aborted."
But still, I’ve always been tempted to form an exclusive cripple fraternity called Coulda Beena Borted. It’s a kinship I share with cripples who are born with spina bifida, Down Syndrome, dwarfism, congenital amputations and all the other stuff obstetricians can spot from a mile away. All you quadriplegics and stroke people and those who became crippled beyond the womb would not be allowed to join Coulda Beena Borted. Sorry. You’re not invited to our annual Coulda Beena Borted reunion and picnic.
Mike's a satirist. Remember that. But there are things to be learned from thoughts that grate against the emotions.

First, there will soon be no more Mikes (and the world needs more Mikes), or at least in the numbers present now. Down Syndrome babies are already being aborted at rates reported near 90%. Other in utero tests are available too. However, much as we like to think human society, at least the best of them, are humanistic and democratic and open, there is aslo a growing element of utilitarianism in such societies, even among the most progressive and liberal elements. Don't believe me. Look up the history of eugenics and note some of its proponents.

Will such societies be better? We know they will be markedly different. And I know the changes will evolve over a long enough period that what is now considered radical will then be acceptable.

Back to Mike's satire. You may not see it. I do, but then I'm excluded. I was crippled late, and so I'm not eligible for the "Coulda Beena Borted" club. 

But isn't funny, though, this bizarre element of human nature that makes us view the world in hierarchies? No matter who we are, where we are, we want to find ways to differentiate ourselves from one another. We want to be special. 

Mike speculates satirically on his fantasy "Coulda Beena Borted" society. Me? I rolled through a good part of life wanting to believe that super-crips aren't really crips. Geez, one is competing in the regular Olympics

I'm pretty much over it now, but for years I resented people who could transfer themselves from bed-to-wheelchair and the like. Or let's put it this way: I was envious of some crips, mainly wheelchair users, who didn't need the assistance of another person to go on about their daily lives. If only I could get my fanny in and out of bed, I'd be a better, more valuable person. Nice thought, until I finally realized I would simply be a different sort of Gary

Envy, yes. Another of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Of course, I have grown sophisticated enough to realize that isn't necessary to be crippled up to recognize few human beings are totally independent, totally self-reliant. Humans are social creatures, and functioning societies incorporate various levels of dependency and interdependency.

It took me too long to recognize that, far too long, but even at that, even understanding the intellectual authenticity of that ideal, there will always be guilt, at least for me, an emotion swimming shark-like as deep and deadly in my psyche as anger.

No subject for satire, that. Unless Mike Ervin is willing to tackle it.
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