But You? You Are a Disappointment to Us.

Scott P  Rains.jpg

It is the passion of each athlete to perform at their personal best - and exceed that.

It is the promise of a team athlete to multiply the personal best of their teammates by strategically exceeding what they are capable of alone.

But you? You are a disappointment to us.

Sprinting on one leg - or none - elite athletes now cross the field to compete as both Olympians and Paralympians.

In the first audience some see a story of "overcoming." Overcoming some personal hell. Balanced upright on an artificial homage to bodily integrity.  Dragging along some unfeeling metallic appendage where once life pulsed. Athletes performing some healing ritual for the benefit of uncomfortably-embodied perfect spectators. Heroism hop-along fashion.

To the second audience they are also a story of overcoming. Overcoming a very public minefield. Dancing through built-environment obstacles while calculating the blast radius of confronting those who design and enforce them. That athlete plays both for personal best and for team by asking, "What legacy do I leave for the disability community?" Strategy outmaneuvering that presumed advantage on the social playing field where the obstacles are constructed. Interdependence overcoming avarice.

But you? You are a disappointment to us.

You called a party in America and didn't invite us. In fact, you used your party to block adoption of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Generations of our elite intellectual and moral athletes sacrificed body and health in a global team effort to lead you to a more secure future for yourselves even though you are not one of us. 

You are a disappointment to us.

You built a City on a Hill and refused to make Visitability the law of the land.

You are a disappointment to us.

You amassed fortunes, short and long, derived from high-end housing stock that you will one day pay out to retrofit on Universal Design principles in order to age-in-place while even non-profit builders of low-income housing continue to fall over their own violation of the Fair Housing Act.

You are a disappointment to us.

We shall overcome. We shall ADAPT.

You are a disappointment to us.

As a community of one billion persons with disabilities worldwide there is no one stadium large enough to hold us all. There is no one party with bouncers strong enough to keep us from dancing through and exceeding what exclusion has wrought.

Some will see the self interest of aligning with us as consumers. Kudos! Some will adapt to the aging process and adopt as their own the strategies we have forged from our lives of resilience a persons with disabilities. Congratulations! A few will awaken to the politics of inclusion. Welcome! 

The rest?

The rest, you are a disappointment to us. You lack both the passion to give your personal best to the human project and the promise of truly grasping our interdependence.

Go home. Train. Come back when you are ready to overcome.

Each person has only a limited training season in the amateur leagues as a Temporarily Able-Bodied Person.

Don't disappoint us when life finally allows you to run with the heroes and you are unprepared to keep up.

Dr. Scott Rains writes daily on disability, travel, and Universal Design at www.RollingRains.com and on Facebook.

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