The best thing about disability is that it really brings home the truth that community and individualism are intertwined. The best community is one that supports individual achievement and difference, and the best individual is one that gives back to community.
Elizabeth is a great example of that in action. Beth has repeatedly defied society's vision of what someone in a terminal condition should be doing (i.e. looking at plants), and dared what so many of the rest of us have only dreamed. But she does it, in large part, knowing that she has supporters, people who think the world of her and her fierce determination. What she does, who she is, how could she do or be without any of us? When we cheer her, we cheer us, too. And she gives back fully. By daring to take risks, she encourages the fainter hearts among us to do what otherwise might only be a dream. Carapace (yes, I'm prejudiced here) is another person whose independence and individualism is supported by a community, and she gives back to make the community stronger. She doesn't do it the way Elizabeth does. She does it by dint of her sunny personality. Right now, she can only work a few hours a week, due to her seizures. But because her boss tolerates her seizures, her husband and I provide transportation, and the US taxpayer covers her medical expenses, the reward is that everyone who comes to the desk when she is on duty goes away feeling better about themselves. She has a compliment for everyone, insidiously spreading good will and positivity every chance she gets. Take a look at Stephen, over in the UK. He's the first to tell us all that his wellbeing is dependent upon a community that cares about him as an individual. From his loving wife, to his mother-in-law, to the infamous NHS, a community web exists that allows him to make his individual contribution to the greater good. Where would his kids be without him? Or the many friends and kinsmen who count on him as part of the joy in their world? I could go on, but I'd really rather people tell me about how they see this interdependence in their own lives. (Yes, that's a plea for comments).
Where the individual wheels, the path becomes smoother for those coming behind, who are not trailblazers, and for those who are adventurous by nature to take new, fresh risks that will continue to open the path for the community. So, by supporting individualism, the community benefits by having individuals who are more able to be part of the community.
Happy Interdependence Day, everyone.
The Death of Tolerance
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