The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57244   Message #902774
Posted By: CapriUni
03-Mar-03 - 07:25 PM
Thread Name: songs about disabilities
Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
Sorry, Abbey -- can't help it. I cannot ignare semantics... Blame it on another one of my afflictions -- it's called English-Majoritis (okay, so I'm the only one that calls it that, so sue me! ;-P)

You wrote: And no, no sympathy, compassion, heartfelt this or that. Just do what's needed. If I saw you wheeling up to a heavy door in a supermarket I'd hold the door open as a matter of course. But I'd do the same for Hulk Hogan if his arms were full of packages and the door would be awkward.   It's called courtesy, not sympathy.

Well, I call it sympathy -- from the Greek syn- together, and pathos emotion. The second definition of sympathy is "pity", but the first definition (at least, in the American Heritage) is a shared affinity between people and things, and the mutual understanding that arises from that afinity.

When you open the door for Hulk Hogan when his arms are full of packages, you are recognizing the nature of his situation and that you have been in similiar ones, remembering your own frustration, and aleviating his.

"Courtesy" comes from the old French for "court" and governs the rules politeness and outward show of respect. Sometimes, there is sincerity behind it, but not necessarily.
===End of vabulary lesson===

In my life, I've discovered that the people who bend over backwards to be courteous to me are often the ones who hold me in the most contempt, beneath that show... (and are often doctors).

The thing about pity that makes it so disgusting is that it is not real sympathy. Instead of recognizing the truth of our common humanity and acting on that recognition, the pitier sees in me only the symbol of an imagined pain and wallows in it (typical exchange with pitying man in the street):

Man: "How long have you been in a wheelchair?"
Me (short version): "All my life."
Man: "How sad!"
Me: ?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!! :::insert rolling of eyes, and shaking of head:::

You also said: Let them feel good by doing the best they can. And kicking butt when necessary. And, of course, singing folksongs.

That could (and should) be said of every human on the planet (okay, I suppose, if a person would really prefer it, they could sing rap or country-western, instead). In order to be good, we all have to make ourselves good. And my having a disability neither robs me of my ability to do that, nor obsolves me of the responsibility to. But it seems that some people are blinded by the symbol that rises in their brain when they see my wheelchair, and don't believe that last bit.


Oh, and no one has yet tackled my question from earlier (it was not posed rhetorically):

Why is it that most protest songs about disability (at least, all the ones posted here, as far as I know) were written by TABs? Why haven't activists in the disabilities rights movement taken one of the biggest lessons from their philosophical forebearers, and used the power of song to spread their message?