We Do Things Differently: A Challenge to Prove Me Wrong

It’s exam season at UCT so blogging has, obviously, taken a backseat. That said, it’s time for another entry – if for no other reason procrastination.

I was checking The Disability Diaries Facebook Page (which I just you go and like now… go on, I’ll wait) and I re-found the cover photo I uploaded a while back. It raises a point that I think deserves some rehashing: “I may walk, talk, and move differently than you do, but on the inside I’m not so different.”

Disability doesn’t discriminate; people do.

People have been discriminating against each other for centuries. Perhaps, there is nothing more ‘natural’ than discriminating against others and holding yourself ‘superior.’ That does not make it right. While Darwinian Theory maintains that we are animals, humans generally like to separate themselves from the other animals and often see themselves as ‘higher-order beings’ – in essence, separate themselves from nature. What could be more ‘unnatural’ than fighting against instinct?

To those of you who say it is impossible to fight instinct, I say bah humbug. It is not ‘natural’ or ‘instinctual’ for a dog to sit on command when a person instructs it to, it is a trained response to a verbal/visual cue. The fact that an animal’s natural response can be controlled to a degree through conditioning, regardless of the animal’s species, proves that it is possible to manipulate original understanding. With this in mind, then, I do not see how humans cannot control the ‘natural urges’ to discriminate.

Moreover, discrimination is a learned behaviour. What we like/dislike is determined in large part by our environment and social context – something we are entirely divorced from until after we’re born and long after the ‘genetic predisposition’ has taken root. What we discriminate against, then, is something we learn. As Mandela put it, no one is born hating. If we learn to hate, we can learn to not hate. It just takes a little work.

While this same concept could apply to so many different aspects of society – sexuality, disability, race, creed etc. – I think one of the ones that probably is most often forgotten is Disability. One of the reasons for this is perhaps the fact that Disability doesn’t discriminate. While it affects the full range of people, it affects them differently. Does a person’s physical, mental, or emotional issues fundamentally change who they are?

I see no reason that disabled people, or any person for that matter, should be discriminated against. I could be wrong. Give me one good, solid reason why people ‘deserve’ to be discriminated against and that discrimination is something that cannot be unlearnt for any reason and I’ll consider my entire point moot. Good luck.

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