The Impact of Disability on Society and Vice Versa

The Impact of Disability on Society and Vice Versa

Disabled people have become much more widely accepted and embraced across western civilization. Now more than ever before we accommodate the disabled. And yet there are problems that have come with our views of the disabled, affecting both the handicapped as well as society at large.

Allow me to explain. There are people who require wheelchairs in order to be mobile. Some of these people are totally incapable of moving their legs on their own, and some are able to move their legs but suffer from some sort of degenerative disorder which prevents their legs from being able to hold their body weight. In both cases these people require a technological device in order to maintain mobility.
Society generally uses stairs and thusly in the accommodation of those in wheelchairs has sought to install ramps in place of stairs so that these specific people can be taken care of and allowed inside.

A person in a wheelchair cannot walk but may be able to function normally in every other way.
A person with a mental illness may be able to walk, but may also struggle to function normally in other ways.

Here is where problems begin. Western civilization holds a strange view on the mentally ill. Simultaneously it acknowledges that these people struggle with certain functions while also maintaining that the mental illness has no effect on the individual whatsoever.
The claim that “I can do anything anyone else can” comes into play here much moreso than with the physically disabled, and this is much more difficult to argue against given that a mental illness is not in and of itself visible.

In scholarly discussions there are rules and guidelines. One is not supposed to attack the character of one’s opposition. On occasion, when engaging in discourse with the public it becomes apparent that some people are entirely unaware of this fact. It also becomes apparent that some people are heavily attached to the ideas they present and perceive the rebuttal of their ideas as a personal attack against themselves.

I have, in the past, had social media friends whom I was aware had mental illnesses which caused emotional distress in themselves. On occasion these friends would engage in debates with me and would become upset, visibly so even through the internet. I would provide an argument against their ideas and they would accuse me of being disrespectful or of being “blinded by your own ego”.
And so I would point out to them that they are clearly upset over a minor disagreement and it appears as though their mental illness is flaring up.
Bad idea.
This never ends well and always ends with the one pointing out the effects of the mental illness being accused of making an attack against the character of the person. No matter how close we may have seemed beforehand the friendship is ended suddenly over what is in its essence a display of concern for how the person is acting towards someone they allegedly view as a friend.

The way our civilization has begun dealing with mental illness is to practically glorify it and ignore any negative effects such an illness may have on an individual or their interactions or perceptions.
Simply because a mentally ill person can do everything a normal person can does not mean that they are always doing so. It does not mean that their mental illness does not make normalcy a struggle for them. It does not mean that they should ignore their own limitations and continue rampaging when they really should be taking a step back and calming down before stepping back into the task they were initially performing.

It is by mutual understanding that we can make a better world, not by allowing some people free reign while denying others the right to point out the wrongdoings or shortcomings of others. The disabled must recognize and acknowledge their limitations and the rest of society must compassionately respond to the disabled. We have one planet and we all share it. We must all take responsibility for both ourselves and how our actions affect others, otherwise we will end up with an overly simplistic, heavily tribalistic, volatile, “might makes right” sort of world. And we’ve been there and done that many times so it is preferable to avoid devolving into such a world yet again.

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