Joe was in the kitchen heating up leftovers for diner and I was surfing Netflix last night and I came upon a film called, "The Best of Men." I only noticed it because the photo accompanying the brief description had a bunch of men, in period clothes, in old fashioned wheelchairs. As we had decided to watch an episode of Midsomer Murders, I called to the kitchen to Joe asking if he'd mind if we watched a movie instead. He was up for it.
The movie is ostensibly about the founding of the Paralympic Games. But it's not really about that at all. It's about disability and identity. It's about usefulness and purpose versus hopelessness and death. It's about a doctor who refused to give way to the social prejudices about 'cripples' and who refused to see death as the 'best outcome' for those who would no longer walk.
I do not want to give too much away about the plot, and I don't think this will take away from your enjoyment of the film, but the movie begins with a young man, severely injured in the war, asking the doctor to kill him. He sees no life ahead for himself. The doctor, simply says no, tells him that there is life yet to come, tells him that he must struggle and hope, but there is life yet to come.
Here is a man who did not believe that death was preferable to disability, a man who fought so those who were 'useless' and 'hopeless' would receive effective treatment. Men who died not because of disability but because of bedsores needed, he believed, to be challenged to be asked to see themselves and their new status as disabled people as simply a different way to experience the life they lived.
I want every single person who trumpet the idea of assisted suicide for those who, like these men, are desperate to die rather than to learn to live with disability. I want those that nod gravely and with deep understanding when someone puts a pillow over the face of a child with a disability to see this film. This film is sneaky because you go in expecting a dose of inspiration porn and instead get your own prejudices smacked around a little bit.
If you have the time. I highly recommend this movie. I leave aside the fact that the primary actors are all non-disabled (and I do so reluctantly) because the message of this film is so timely and important that it needs to be seen widely.
If you can find it.
Take the time.