It set me thinking, and I typed out a response:
“Well, it made a point, quite valid.
“But the point I want to make is, that not every person gets the same opportunities, or is mentally able to deal with infirmities in the same way….so I too have found that people who have overcome disability are often the least empathetic to the troubles of others in a similar situation.
“I see SO many people who brush off others’ blindness with statements like ‘They’ll develop their other senses’ or something equally thoughtless. Yes, some people DO overcome disability…but it’s not something EVERY one can do, and it is, indeed, a huge mountain.”
I have one friend who was, overnight, struck by paralysis, and has been in a wheelchair ever since. S/he has truly vanquished hes disability; there’s not a restaurant or a movie theatre that s/he has not visited, and s/he has travelled all over the world…and has remained unfailingly cheerful, even though even worse things happened to hes family. I have deep admiration for this friend.
But…when someone else was suddenly struck down, I expected hir to be empathetic, and remark how tough life must be for the other person, the response was very surprising. “So what? If I could overcome it, every one can, the other person should stop moping and get on!”
Each of us has a different mental makeup; what’s a pragmatic effort to overcome something, for one person, can be an insuperable obstacle to another. Not everyone has the gung-ho attitude, or the intense mental strength, to face difficulties head on, not lose one’s sense of humour, and carry on. This is as true, whether the disability is a temporary, or a permanent, one.
Perhaps, within misfortunes, too, there are varying degrees…for example, to me, the loss of sight would be MUCH worse than the loss of a limb (or so I think, sitting comfortably on my sofa, with probably no REAL idea of what these would involve on a daily basis.)
All I do know is that for each person, a disability is a HUGE obstacle to be overcome, and one must not think any less of that person if they fail to overcome it totally. Constant pain…this alone can cause so much bitterness of the spirit….or even just insomnia can make someone so crabby (tell me all about it…)..we have to respect the fact that a person is combating the disability, and not pass quick judgement about how they can overcome it “if they put their mind to it”. It’s like saying everyone can climb Mt Everest if they wish to. That’s technically true…but NOT true in real life. For some of us, that mountain of “can’t” will always remain a formidable block.
And..when someone HAS overcome some disability, we also tend to take it for granted, and forget what a monumental effort it must have taken, and continues to take. The friend I referred to above was criticised by some others as being “too noisy” and cracking too many jokes when in a group, I am not kidding!
Oh, by the way…how many people still open quotation marks at the beginning of every new paragraph of a quote? Is it done at all nowadays? In my English Honours papers, FIVE marks would be cut off if it wasn’t done…