A while back David posted this on Jerry Lewis and the MDA Telethon. I love all his observations on the destructiveness of pity. Especially these:
Pity promotes the view of charity rather than the view of inclusion.
Inclusion encourages respectful dialogue to discuss ways to adapt to the obstacles of society.
Pity towards people with disabilities gives society the false impression that disability and happiness cannot coexist.
I have come out against charity events before, and Children In Need and Comic Relief are in my opinion guilty of falling into the pity trap. Well, actually they don't fall into the trap so much as set it. They positively encourage pity. And the people who watch this tripe are generally the ones who can be found humiliating themselves in some cringeworthy charity stunt with a big cheque at the end of it. The rest? I really can't understand why they watch it. But in between telethons, these very same people are the people who will give you a certain look when you are out in your wheelchair, who will say things like "Oh, but you're so young." And other such nonsense.
Of course Children In Need does not just focus on children with disabilities. No, you'll find plenty of Young Carers featured, in need of pity because of their plight. They are generally to be found near a window, gazing out of it wistfully. Children imprisoned by their duty to their disabled parent. Children deprived of laughter, happiness, childhood.
I will say only this. My son and I have experienced far more laughs and happiness since we created an environment where my disability is accepted, talked about, respected and increasingly forgotten as we find things to do that we just enjoy, regardless of my impairments.
The environment we have created is called home. It couldn't flourish within the confines of a relationship that was unaccepting of my disability. So I left and home flourished.
Yet we are frequently on the receiving end of unwelcome pity. Being a single disabled mother, well it must be just bloody awful mustn't it? Hard, yes. But I don't want pity and neither does my son, who has flatly refused to be called a Young Carer. If people locally and on a wider scale could be a fly on the wall, they might be surprised to find that my son is happy here and I am not a freak. I'd like Children In No Need Whatsoever to come and do a film at our house. They may catch us cooking, watching Top Gear, doing homework, having one of his friends over for tea or...laughing, yes that's laughing. Because we do have a laugh. Just like normal people.