I don't know why but I hadn't heard about it. I was just browsing in the Post Office, yes I can shop anywhere, looking at some coins from the Royal Canadian Mint and was taken by surprise by the Rick Hansen Coin. For those who don't know who Rick is, he's probably one of the most well known Canadians with a disability. I've never met him but have admired him for both his intelligence and his humour. I'll never forget the YouTube video of him bungee diving, in his wheelchair, and screaming, when it was over, "I can't feel my legs." Gotta love the guy.
I don't use this blog to promote products or to sell things and that's not the point of the blog. I just wanted you to take a look at the design of the coin. The designers of the coin got a lot right. Media often doesn't really 'get' disability, but I thought that the artists, Chris Reid and Rosina Li did an amazing job. Now, I need to say here, that I didn't read what the mint said, in the packaging about the artwork. I don't do that. Art speaks to me without an interpreter needing to be present.
I have always believed that living freely and accessing the community is a bold act. For every single person. Disability or Not. The 'community' can be a daunting place of judgement and unwelcome. Without diminishing the incredible extremes of prejudice aimed towards particular groups, I think that it's fair to acknowledge that all people face discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis. I met a man with Down Syndrome once who decided never to go out again, he was tired of the stares, of the 'voice' that people used to speak to him and because of the teasing. As much as I tried, he wouldn't consider what I said, because, of course, he was right, there are things to fear in the society in which we live. So, therefore, living freely is a bold act.
It is particularly bold when one has a difference. Or when difference is perceived to diminish. Little acts of social violence - staring, pointing, mocking - can be seen as acts designed to 'push back' and 'push out' those of us who dare to venture in to the arena to face gladiatorial eyes. Someone yesterday wore a tee shirt, white with black writing, "For God's Sake Bring Back the Ugly Laws!" I wanted to inform him that The Ugly Laws may have been repealed but, not to fear, the attitudes that created them are still victimizing those of us who are 'unsightly'.
So, back to the coin design.
Having words of power and of inclusion and of change appear with every inch, every foot, every mile that Hansen's chair moves, well, how true is that? And how true is it of everyone who experiences the constant assault of prejudice - every step or every inch taken into freedom advances the cause of freedom. Living freely is living boldly. Living freely is a political act of courage. Living freely is a right that needs to be used - the doors of society need to be forced to swing open or they will, trust me, rust closed.
I loved the design.
I bought the coin.