This world we live in

I’ve been a bit sick this week, so instead of actually doing anything I’ve been mostly curled up on my sofa reading the internet. A lot of what I’ve read makes me sad; some of it makes me horribly, guiltily grateful. And that makes me angry.

For example: this guy I’ve been reading for a while. He has a son with Down syndrome, and he writes a lot about how we could and should do better for disabled people in our societies. One of his older pieces, which is linked from the post above, talks about how a “cult of compliance” discriminates against and allows the abuse of children with disabilities, and in particular seems to be used against children who are not white.

Another post that turned my stomach was something that came to me through Facebook. I’ve never read this woman’s writing before. She tells a story about a college student in a dangerous situation, whom she and her friends tried to remove to a place of safety; but every authority they encountered was more interested in rebuking the girl for drinking than in keeping her safe. In fact, the only option they gave her was to go back to the place where she’d been about to be raped.

So once again in my life, I find myself thankful. I am thankful that I was born white, in a Western country where to be any other colour, it seems, is to be presumed guilty until proven innocent. I am thankful I was not diagnosed autistic in childhood, despite the help and supports I might have accessed, for fear of the stigma and abuse (intentional or otherwise) that could well have come with them. I am thankful, God help me, that I am not pretty enough to be a desirable target for rape.

What sort of a world do we live in that any child (or adult, for that matter), particularly one made vulnerable by disability, should fear for their safety because of the colour of their skin? What sort of society hides its disabled children away and physically abuses them for being unable to comply with certain commands? Why is it OK that a pretty woman can’t just enjoy being pretty without fearing the consequences?

I should not be grateful that I have not encountered those things – not through any virtue of my own, but through an accident of birth. I am angry that others have, and do, and will continue every day to suffer through the accidents of theirs.

How can we live in this world?

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