I am furious. I am furious about the deaths of 19 disabled individuals in Japan. But I am even more furious at the lack of public outrage in the face of this horror. Mostly, I am furious at the continued devaluing of disabled lives that leads to the attitudes held by not only the killer, but by those willing to ignore the tragedy.
In the wake of Orlando, did you offer up a prayer? When a truck plowed through dozens in Nice, did you wring your hands and change your profile pic? Did you share stories of these tragedies on social media? Did you talk about how tragic it was with the checkout girl at the grocery store?
THEN WHERE WERE YOU AFTER THE MURDERS IN SAGAMIHARA? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIVES TAKEN WERE “LESS VALUABLE” THAN YOUR OWN?
Because that is what you are saying when you ignore this tragedy. You are saying disabled lives don’t matter. In a way, I don’t blame you. Public discourse on this subject tends to revolve around things like the right for the disabled to choose suicide over life.
There was a movie released recently, called Me Before You. which romanticizes the decision of a disabled man to commit suicide. Did you see it? Did you think how tragically romantic? If so, did it ever occur to you that you were saying his life wasn’t valuable just as it was? That he lost his ability to contribute to society when he lost his legs?
Right now, 14 year old Jerika Bolen is making plans to die, and people are celebrating it. If an able-bodied teenager chose to end her life, we would be arguing, begging, pleading, getting her mental health treatment. But because it is a disabled girl, we celebrate it.
I have chronic pain, and endless doctor’s appointments and hands-full of pills each day. I understand why Jerika wants it to end. What I don’t understand is why we aren’t convincing her how valuable and precious her life is and why it should be preserved.
As a society, we have devalued the disabled. They are a burden. They are less than. They lack real value, unless we are using them to make our own lives seem more bearable. There but for the grace of God…..
A friend of mine had a son with a severe genetic anomaly I can’t spell. He couldn’t walk, sit without support, talk. She lost him two years ago and still talks about him every day. I dare you to tell her his life wasn’t valuable, that she should be relieved he is gone!
It’s time to start thinking of disability in a different way. It’s time to acknowledge some people are differently abled, but still human, still worthy, still valuable. It’s time to speak up, to get outraged, to make a difference. Will you join me? Start now, share this post. Or a news story. Just start.