doing damns the darkness /
A Blog By Dave Hingsburger
Friday, October 02, 2015
Photo Description: Teen With Down Syndrome on Everest
You know, sometimes people otta just freaking use Google before they speak. So some dude from the tourism department of Nepal in talking about their wish to ban disabled climbers from the mountain said: ‘Climbing Everest is not a joke. It is not a matter of discrimination – how can you climb without legs?’
I'll admit I don't get why anyone, disabled or not, wants to climb Everest. We went to see the movie Everest and that was quite enough of an adventure for me. But, in the end, it doesn't matter that I don't get it. What matters is that people want to do it, even though it's dangerous, and that people are often quite changed by the experience.
The decision to ban a whole group of people based solely on a prejudicial notion of who disabled people are and what disabled people can and can't do, is, quite simply, offensive. What's even more offensive is that the facts of the matter don't matter. Disabled people, of all stripes, have climbed Everest. Even, and this will shock the whole of the Tourism Department ... people without legs!!!
It's odd to me that our achievements are invisible when it comes to demonstrating that preconceptions and prejudices are outmoded and even dangerous. Instead achievements are turned into inspiration, which is about the viewer, not the viewed, and thus made almost meaningless when it comes to making actual attitude change.
I don't follow the world of climbing. I'm not from Nepal. I couldn't identify Everest from a mugs line up of mountain peaks, but even I know that Everest has been climbed and climbed and climbed again by people with all sorts of disabilities. Eli Reimer, a teen with Down Syndrome climbed 70 miles to base camp simply because he wanted to. But none of this matters because these stories are turned into stories about 'can do it' attitudes and 'conquering' disability rather than demonstration of personal skill and ability, the equalization of dreams, the adaptiveness and creativity with which people with disabilities approach challenges. No, what we've done is motivate some abled bodied person to 'try harder' - rah us. I do wish they'd 'try harder' to see us as flesh and blood people who climbed a fucking mountain.
In tourism guy's mind, we haven't, as a people, climbed Everest.