One of the benefits of following and reading other bloggers’ work is that you can sometimes steal an idea and run with it, which can be handy if you’re racking your brain trying to come up with a topic.
Such was the case for me this week, as it was one of those weeks where the time to sit and type was approaching, and I had bupkus for a subject. Then good ol’ Superman ended his Playing the Card piece with a question that is the title of this one. That question struck a nerve, and I instantly knew I had my topic. So thank you, Billy Mac.
“Normal” can be judged on so many levels: health, looks, intelligence (perceived or otherwise), attitude, what we do for a living, and personality, to name a few. I could throw politics into the mix, but I reserve the right to revisit that down the road because our current political climate is anything but normal. Today’s challenge is to be brief and concise, as I could rant and pontificate forever about this topic because it really annoys me.
I hate the word “normal” as it applies to people because implies that someone who isn’t has something fundamentally wrong with the them, and is less of a person.
I have Multiple Sclerosis, which obviously places me in a minority status, but I have hopes, dreams, desires and fears like everyone else. I don’t want to be treated differently, pitied, or viewed as something less of a person, and I certainly don’t want anyone to lower their opinion or expectations of me simply because I have a hitch in my giddy-up. I also don’t want people who see me for the first time to go out of their way to avoid me. Unfortunately, some of us who live with a disability help perpetuate this stereotype by playing the victim card, which I abhor, and give people a reason to avoid them because they are so annoying.
Nidan is pursuing a career in Human Services, so I have had the pleasure of learning about and meeting many people, mostly kids, who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome, ADHD and conditions of that nature. They are genuinely kind, unique, wonderfully quirky individuals who have an interestingly different point of view compared to us neuro-typical folks. Unfortunately, their black and white thinking often leaves them clueless when it comes to nuances and shades of grey. They are oblivious to social cues, and are often unfairly judged and shit upon by both peers and adults because they appear odd.
School districts aren’t kind to them either. Some don’t know how to teach the kids or how to assimilate them into the student body, and turn a blind eye to the constant and often vicious bullying they are subject to. And if you happen to be a kid who is clinically on the spectrum but is very high functioning and looks “normal?” Well, something must really be wrong with that kid, and they are treated accordingly.
While no school administrator would admit this, I suspect more than a few would like nothing better than for these kids disappear or be home-schooled. Either that or persuade their parents give them drugs to make them compliant zombies. It would certainly make their jobs easier.
People fear what they don’t understand, and often don’t take the time to learn about something unless it affects a loved one or family member. It is easier to remain ignorant and shun people we aren’t comfortable being around because they have problems, and could be a bad influence on our kids.
Our collective attitudes toward anyone or anything that does not fit our model of what should be has become progressively cruel, and it doesn’t help when our President sets the example by openly mocking and ridiculing someone with a disability. Perhaps this a symptom of an all-about-me society that is becoming increasingly narcissistic. Perhaps it a by-product of an evolving U-Tube culture that thrives on being sensationally controversial.
Does living with anxiety issues make you abnormal? Are you abnormal if your IQ is below average? Does being an atheist make you a warped, twisted individual? Does not being blessed with good looks, or having significant weight issues make you less of a person? I think not!
It feels like we have become increasingly intolerant and unkind towards anything different, and we gleefully put down anyone who is. It seems we have become so insecure that we have to tear others down to prop ourselves up. How sad is that?
It’s also misguided because nobody is perfect. Let’s be honest. We all have issues of some kind. Some are more visible than others, and some of us hide it better than others. But if we accept that premise, then what is normal? Everything, or nothing?
The reality is we are all flawed to some degree, which makes us all the same. And in the final analysis, does it really matter?