Thursday, October 26, 2006

Letter to the Next Generation of Disabled Kids

To the Next Generation of Disabled Kids:
You may have a lot of struggles ahead of you.
I hope you don't. I'm trying my best to make the world a better place for people like you. I know many others who are working for that too. But there's a lot to change, and others are trying to make it worse for us. Many of you may not even get to be born because of those people. Others may be killed or denied the things that could save your lives.
I hope you never feel like you don't belong. Even if you are one of a handful of people like you in the world, even if they haven't found anyone else like you yet, I hope you feel welcome with people who are different from you. You will probably figure out eventually that you're not like most people. But I hope you will not be taught to think of your difference as a bad thing.
I hope you get what you need, even if your needs are unusual. I hope you never have to deal with being told that since you don't fit certain narrow criteria, you can't have the needs you have. I hope you not only get what you need to survive, but also what you need to live a good life. I hope people realize that there are many different ways of living a good life, and that everyone can have a good life if they get what they need.
And I hope you are allowed to be yourself. There are many ways of being a wonderful person, you don't have to be normal. I hope by the time you're born, people know how to accept a person for who they are, and see the beauty in that. I hope your parents don't keep longing for you to become a child you are not, a child they hoped to have.
If you don't have that, I hope you realize you deserve to have all that. I hope you realize that we can get there, with enough work. You may not live to see that day, but the next generation can take up the work. And fighting back is good for you. It means you challenge the assumptions that label you as a damaged person, and realize you are whole. It means you fight the 'outposts in your head' that society makes, and destroy them one by one.
And I hope your parents support you in that fight, like mine did. If they don't, I hope you find others who will support you. The fight is easier when you have allies, someone to stand up for your rights and help you heal from your wounds. Because though the fight is good for you, it can also wound you deeply. You need someone who will help you heal so you can fight again.
I hope you remember the dream of a world where people like you are accepted. Don't accept the world as 'good enough' if it isn't. Some people might say the work is done, like they've said to women and non-white people, but while people are still treated as inferior for being who they are, the work is not finished. No matter how they hide their views in clever disguises. Disguised injustice still hurts, and it's harder to spot, harder to fight.
Ettina

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