Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Baby and the Burden

Photo decription: A picture of a child after amputations carried out on his arms and legs, wording on the picture says: if u ignore u r heartless type amen if he is cute.

This is the first thing I saw this morning when I went on my Facebook page. I'm not sure what motivates this kind of post, I'm not sure what it's supposed to do, I am sure that the only benefit from typing 'amen' comes to the typist not the child in the picture. I'm quite sure that this little kid doesn't care two whits if you think he's cute. I wonder what he'll think of the picture when he gets older - I wonder if he'll wonder about who gave consent for his photo to be used in this way. Or was consent given at all ... was the picture, perhaps, taken by loving parents and then taken from them by someone who saw a poster instead of a child.

But people get to type 'amen' and feel good about themselves because they just proved they aren't heartless. Momentary warm fuzzy and move along to other business, humanity ensured.

I didn't comment.

I didn't know how to put my feelings into words.

So I come here, to write this, and hope that somehow I'll be able to do so.

And I find I can't.

That this little fellow has to pick up the burden of 'inspiration' so young. That he has to begin his life in the way he will have to live it, dealing with the immature emotional needs of those who chose to see him as being made for their benefit and be defined by their need for meaning, rather than to determine and strive to live a life that benefits him and his needs, that finds his own meaning in his own life, seems tragic to me. There will be those who say that he will be a burden. There are those of us that know he, instead, is the burden bearer.

Once again, I say, we need to get our stories out and our voices heard. When I look at this kid, I see a future that includes, school, graduation, love, marriage, children, work. Maybe it's best said that when I look at this child I see, without question, a life full of everything that everyone experiences. Cute or not.

I think that children like this little boy are in real and present danger. This photo doesn't prove that people have heart, it proves that they don't! It proves that they can look at a living human child presented as an object, a thing, without protest. Believe me there were no protests about the picture in the comments, just a meaningless list of 'amens.' He is in real and present danger because as was pointed out by Diane Coleman from Not Dead Yet "Under the Canadian Supreme Court ruling, disabled people explicitly qualify for assisted suicide whether or not they are 'terminal'". 

Other status, or as some put it, the status of being other, is deadly.

I want to do something, change something, make the world better for this little boy. Beginning with this picture, but I don't know what to do.



Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I guess I am heartless because I never respond to these types of posts on social media. It's an obvious attempt to incite feelings of pity for this child. And as you have often pointed out no one needs pity. Piss on pity!

When you see this little boy you see potential. But you know there are going to be tremendous obstacles mostly caused by other people's attitudes. The very same people who type amen could well be the ones who create these obstacles. It might make a good PhD project for someone to study the correlation between typing amen and actually doing something to change the status quo. I'm willing to bet there isn't one.

Anonymous said...

You have made a noble beginning. Describing a child (any child) as "cute" makes him or her an object rather than a person! What difference does the arrangement of chromosomes and/or the remains of disease or accident have on our opinion of another person? Pray that we will live to see the day when a person is admired for his/her character, or for his/her unique contribution to the world, rather than because of a genetic or other virtual "accident."

Jan Goldfield said...

Perhaps, Dave, just in the writing of your thoughts today, you will make a reader think. And change a mind, maybe just one mind. But isn't that all an activist can hope for?
I know one is not enough, but one is a great start. Soldier on, Dave. Your readers are changed by your words.

Maryclare said...

Thank you for articulating what I feel when I see these type of postings. I find them exploitative.

Anonymous said...

In Germany we have a very blunt saying for such situations "before I get angry I rather not care...". This is one way to deal with such kind of stupidity.
Another way would be re-interpretation: "Amen: I am alive!"

It is hard to deal with such religious attempts of dealing with disability. It would be much more of help to see the situation, ask what is needed for the child, the parents - and if something is needed - other than acception help as best as one can. Amen is just an eas way to get out of this situation, with the false idea of earnong a religious bonus.

Well these are my thoughts.

I hope, they help.


Flemisa said...

I had seen this picture and passed it by knowing it disturbed me but not spending more time thinking about it. Your words have made me think more about it. In future I will know better what to have said and it may include "Amen" after some words about seeing him as a child, wanting him to have a full, happy, and respected life.
Thanks for an inspiring start to this Sunday.

CapriUni said...

I'm not on Facebook, and I have no intention to join. But this is the comment I'd want to make -- you're free to use it, or something like it:

"ALL babies are cute! I'm saving my 'Amen' for when he's 17, and sneaking out of the house on a school night to go to a concert with his friends!"

Rachel in Idaho said...

Inspiration porn makes me want to say words that are inappropriate here. Many of them.

And of course the kid is cute. All babies are. I know how I'm "supposed" to feel looking at that picture (which was probably stolen from the parents who posted it) but what I see is a cutie who is going to have some interesting challenges and adaptations ahead in life but will do fine given half a chance.


Anonymous said...

THANK you for writing this.
The photo + caption is too disturbing for words. I literally have no words to think about it or talk about it.
Thank you for starting to connect that awful feeling with some language.

Unknown said...

Dave - saw this on FB a couple of days ago and didn't know how to articulate how it made me feel. Thanks for providing the words I needed.

Ron Arnold said...

"if u ignore u r heartless" - was probably written by some judgmental teen somewhere. My guess anyway, though I do see these kinds of things being forwarded by adults . . . which I also find troubling. Here's what bugs me about it. It's the idea that the mere act of commenting 'Amen' on a picture somewhere makes you a good person. It's that kind of hollow self-validating tripe that passes for true compassion these days that irritate me. It is exploitation for self-validation - nothing more.

I find these types of things loathsome.

How do we combat it? Your post for one thing . . . and putting thoughts along those lines in the comments under the photo. Sometimes I have stuff set aside in a 'cut and paste' bank for just such an occasion. Refutation and education would be my two cents.