I wasn’t sure I was going to really get into it. But after two episodes of ‘The Big Door Prize‘ I was hooked. There really was something magical about the way each character wrestled with identity and meaning. It was like the telling of an old fable — while the story was entertaining and fictional, there were some profound truths that reflected deeply in reality.
It really isn’t a new story. In fact, if your a fan of some of those old spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood, you probably would recognize some of the very similar elements — a stranger comes to town, turns much of the community upside down, transformers several of the marginalized characters (like the little person or the lonely widow) by empowering them or causing them to question their relationships in the community, and overturning the power structures along the way. Just so happens in this case that the stranger is a machine.
Here’s the question that really grabbed my imagination though… What would you do if your life potential came out as: DISABLED?!
Seriously, would you have it printed on a blue sweatshirt and wear it everywhere you went? Probably not. And like some of the characters in the show, you probably wouldn’t be telling others about it to quickly either. Although, most would probably notice it right away. In truth, we probably would find it confusing as to how the word ‘DISABILITY’ was being associated with our life’s potential.
In most cases, the word disability carries a certain stigma and negative meaning with it. We avoid being associated with the word DISABLED because we recognize a certain fatalism, prejudice, and label to which our society places upon those with disabilities. Henri Nouwen says that:
“Fatalism afflicts us in many ways. It affects our relationships. We use labels and categories that prevent us from expecting anything new from each other.”
Nouwen, Henri. Turn My Mourning into Dancing (p. 43). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
When the word ‘disability’ is treated as a label, rather than a defined element in character, it allows prejudice and ableism to diminish the life potential and human value upon individuals. If it was instead held lightly as a revealing of defined human liminality and physical or mental embodiment, disability could redefine itself as individual and communal empowerment for potential.
This sort of fatalism and ableism is not necessarily absent from the internal wrestlings of the disabled themselves, either. They also must learn and repent of an ableist mindset in order to discover new potentials in life.
For most of my life I chose to avoid the label of being disabled. I told people that I’d rather find meaning as a person with CHALLENGES. The thought was that we need to do away with limiting words like disability because of the damaging ways society has abused it and misused its true definition. Unfortunately, I now recognize that this created a disembodiment and sort of disassociation with my physical wellbeing and personhood over the course of my life. As Hillary McBride describes:
“Our body and our personhood are so intimately connected that they can never be separated. We are not just a mind, or brain, carried around by a meat-puppet of flesh and bones. Embodiment is a kind of remembering of who we really are, because what we picked up along the way was disembodiment. But disembodiment is not how we come into the world. It can be unlearned, while embodiment, our birthright, can be remembered. So embodiment is a coming home, a remembering of our wholeness, and a reunion with the fullness of ourselves.”
McBride, Hillary L.. The Wisdom of Your Body (pp. 13-14). HarperCollins Canada. Kindle Edition.
So how can we find renewed meaning and embodiment in the word DISABILITY? Over the next few weeks I would like to explore three identity building practices I found in Betty Pies’s book ‘The Space Between Us‘. It is my hope we can find a deeper and more robust meaning as people with disabilities through understanding our Defined, our Defended, and our Deeper identity’s.
This post originally was published here: The Morpho Machine And The Magic Of Life’s Potential
#Potential #Disabled #Embodiment