I am a disabled person, and I use that term deliberately in this context, as it refers to the social model of disability, which basically suggests that it is society that disables people through its attitudes, actions, and assumptions. In other words, how we as a society are organised, acknowledge, and thereby create disability, rather than actually valuing, leveraging, respecting, and encouraging people’s differences and diversity. This is how society is seen through the lens of disability. In light of this, I am finding the new television show, The Good Doctor, which premiered tonight, personally confronting. It is about Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and Savant syndrome, who is recruited into the surgical unit of a prestigious hospital, and the battles he faces.
I know that kind of isolation. I know that kind of discrimination. I know what it is not to be taken seriously based on the ignorance or arrogance of others. I know what it is to be misunderstood, misused, or misinterpreted. I know what it is to be held to a higher standard than my peers, yet simultaneously held back. I know what it is to be a perceived threat, and subsequently punished for the insecurities of others. Oh how I know those high powered conversations held behind closed doors about me, but without me. And I know what it is to be thought provoking.
But what I don’t know is what it means to take being accepted, or having the advantage, opportunity, or influence for granted.
This man may have gotten the job, but at what cost?
How often will he be the scapegoat, the butt of the joke, or the designated problem? How often will he be the smartest person in the room but completely ignored, argued with, or simply not believed? How often will he be victimised, bullied, disabled, and disadvantaged? How many mythologies, misconceptions, and millstones will he have to overcome? How many prejudices, judgements, and self-appointed jurors will he have to endure? How many times will he be held to an impossible standard, or to ransom, yet always expected to be gracious and grateful for the opportunity and exposure? How many times will he need to justify, defend, explain, or plead his position while others will not? How will he see society through the lens of disability?
And all for what? A reasonable, meaningful and equitable steak in society, or simply the amusement and personal gratification of those who are more powerful.
Oct 31, 2017
For more of Meg’s thoughts on disability go to Disability, Ableism And Inclusion. Oh My!