This wasn't always so. No, wait, I lie. It HAS always been so, but those opinions have shifted 180 degrees. I used to go to the grocery store with my wasband (new term for my first husband, I use it affectionately) and get annoyed at all of those blue disabled spots. Here I was, having to walk an extra twenty feet, and cripples got the best parking spots, and dude! Cripples don't go out! :P And the ADA pissed me off because I saw the potential for prices to rise so that stores and offices could make all of the accomodations required by that new law that served only to benefit a few people who, of course, never went out.
Boy, does that kind of closed minded bullshit opinion change when you're viewing the world from a wheelchair, or when you need a cane to get around and walking is a sheer agonizing experience that prevents you from being with your four year old daughter on her first trip to Disneyland.
Anyways. I want to talk about this new icon, and why I am going to be using it for any of my "politically" motivated disability posts from now on.
All of you are familiar with this symbol:
This is, of course, the yellow star of David that the Nazis made the Jews wear in occupied territories and death camps during the Holocaust.
And many of you know this symbol as well, which was used to designate homosexuals, who seemed to have very short lifespans once they went into the camps:
But how many people know this one? I didn't know it until I discovered Dave Hinsburger's blog a few weeks ago.
The black triangle was used to designate "asocials" in the Nazi camps. With the word BLOD imposed on a white patch, it was used for the intellectually disabled and the mentally ill. BLOD, with the umlaut or whatever it's called over the O translates to "Stupid". And the "stupid" died in those camps too. Not in the same numbers that our Jewish lost did, but they died. In fact, the whole extermination campaign was tested out first on the BLOD. On the disabled. That's how the Nazis perfected mass murder on an outrageous scale - by murdering the mentally deficient and the mentally ill. In boarded up buses with the exhaust fed back in to them. By the "one bullet, one body, fill in the ditch even if they're still crying out" method. Later by Zyclon B. But oh yes, my disabled brothers and sisters were systematically and heartlessly murdered, simply for being less than perfect.
Some good reading here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/disabled.html
and here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/mental_disabilities.html
Some of the things I'm about to say will bother some of you reading this. Some of you will disagree, particularly about Terry Schiavo. I'm going to say them anyways, because they need to be said.
I've been alarmed by things in the news of late. Terry Schiavo, killed by her husband once she was no longer convenient to him. Michael Schiavo went from "I'll never pull the plug" to "Damn, I wanna get re-married and I'm Catholic so I can't divorce the vegetable and have a church wedding, snuff the bitch" in just a few years.
Eluana Englaro, a woman in Italy who also had food and water cut off from her because she was vegetative.
The general treatment of the disabled as somehow less than others, less important than others, less HUMAN than others. I have experienced this firsthand in hospitals over the years. I have even had one nurse ask my if I thought my life was worth living, and wouldn't it be a grand world if I could have an assisted suicide? Yes, really. I had an infection in my leg at the time. Hardly a reason to die.
The growing trend toward voluntary euthanasia for those who have deemed themselves no longer worthy of living due to advancing disabilities such as muscular dystrophy. (Don't get me wrong, if a person wants to die, that is between them and God, but sometimes I find myself wondering how many of those people feel pressure to make this choice because of their disability or illness causing hassles for their loved ones.)
Voluntary, TRULY voluntary euthanasia is a very personal choice, and one that I support. What I FEAR though, and history proves that this can occur, is involuntary euthanasia, or coerced euthanasia, simply because SOMEBODY ELSE deems another person's life not worth living based on their own or on society's idea of what makes a life have value.
I fear the possibility that some day, somebody will look at me. Fat. Crippled (mobility impaired for the PC among us. Me, I call it like I live it.) Chronically ill. Mentally ill.
I fear that they will say: This person has no decent quality of life. She can barely move without assistance. Her life is rigidly scheduled around pills and insulin injections that somebody else needs to assist her with. She's got more than one person in her head, her moods swing from top to bottom in five minutes flat, mostly to bottom. She shouldn't have to live like that. She shouldn't live like that. It would be a mercy, a kindness, an act of love...
I don't want that kind of love. I want to live. I don't give a rat's ass if I do it from a wheelchair, or if I'm crazy by somebody else's standards, or if I have to take these 17 pills and six insulin injections every single day of my life. I find joy in living, and that's all there is to it. I want to live for as long as I possibly can. Even with chronic illness. Even crazy. Even crippled and in constant pain.
I have an advance directive should I ever wind up like Terry Schiavo. It's a simple one. It states that should that happen, Sam is to make whatever decision he feels is right at that time, and that should he choose to keep my body going for a while, he can change that decision at any time. But so long as there is even a HINT of awareness, I live. I live, dammit. Because snuffing out a life that may still have its worthwhile moments on some deep level that only that life can comprehend is still murder. It's murder.
And that is not okay. I choose not to be a victim.
I take back the black triangle because I choose to live.
More worthwhile reading: