Understanding the Disabled Persons Plight
Being pushed around in a wheelchair recently on a Christmas shopping spree, I became to realize what it is like to live a life of a handicapped individual. Trying to negotiate myself with crutches after a knee surgery became too much of a chore for me in all the stores we were visiting, so my wife commandeered a wheelchair for me to tool around in.
I immediately got a different perspective on how challenging it is for the disabled to function in this society. People around you look at you differently, like you are something less than a whole individual. They want to look at you in the eye, but when it comes time for that to happen their eyes avert suddenly, as if they can see their vulnerability in themselves.
What was disturbing as I maneuvered my wheelchair through the aisles was how callous people were in allowing me some space to flow through as unobstructed as possible. One man was in an aisle leaning down and refused to move one inch while my wife repeatedly asked the the gentleman to excuse us; he didn’t even acknowledge our presence.
Even with crutches, I found that being first in the cashier line was more important to one couple who had scores of items in their cart when all I wanted to do was purchase a gift card. The lady did not even apologize for cutting in front of me, nor did she allow me to make my purchase ahead of her. She simply turned her back on me and refused to acknowledge my presence. See the theme here?
I, for one, have a whole different perspective on how the disabled is treated in our society. My knee will get better; I know that. Soon I will be walking normally, walking through the same stores I traversed with the wheelchair. But I hope I never lose that memory that seared in my brain on what it is like to be looked upon with either disdain for being in someone’s way or simply to be pitied upon for a condition nobody would wish for. People see the humanity in themselves when looking at a disabled person, and many don’t like what they see in themselves. My wish for myself is to treat a disabled person with the respect he or she deserves, not because he or she is disabled but because in most cases the mind and feelings of that individual is not affected. The disabled person does not want to be treated differently. All he wants is for someone to look him in the eye and treat him as if he mattered in this society and not as a cumbersome hindrance.