Independence, Money, and Human WorthPosted: April 26, 2013
The first question of the Liebster Award is: Why did you start to blog?
Here’s why I started to blog…
My very first reason I started this blog is that I didn’t want to keep talking about LP’s Down syndrome over and over. It was exhausting to rehash the details of it all, to explain what Ds was, even.
More and more, however, the reason I blog is that I think our society needs a priority reordering. Having a child labeled with disability has forced me to reconsider the very meaning of human value. I say forced, because I honestly admit that it was by force. I don’t think that if LP did not have Ds, I would have come to this understanding on my own. Who knows, maybe I would have. Other people have come to this realization earlier and easier than I have. LP sure did give me a kick in the ass though.
This has come into stark relief during the aftermath of Ethan Saylor’s death, but I have been long realizing that our collective estimation of a person’s value is too intimately tied up in monetary value. When we found out that our child had Ds, for a few days I found myself wanting to find every single person with Ds who was able to live independently. Hopefully, they had jobs. Maybe it wasn’t enough to solely support them, but it was something. Then I found myself wanting desperately for all of our friends and family to understand that LP may be one of those lucky individuals.
But wait. Why did this feel so awful? LP may not be one of those individuals. Was I to spend my life hoping that my kid would be something for which he may not be destined? Would it be fair to put such expectations on any of my other children? Why is independence so valuable? Money. It is a sad fact that in our society, individuals who can’t live independently, earn a living, are not seen as valuable. Money. Our current culture values skills that can be monetized. Art, knowledge, writing, labor, all must be valued by money. It then follows that without a skill that can be monetized, then one is a burden by drawing on society’s services that could be better placed elsewhere.
Society, I say to you, this is screwed up. My child is not defective because he might not be able to fit into society’s current monetary culture. Our country’s wealth disparity is sickening; the top 1% of Americans enjoyed 81% of our country’s gain in wealth since 2009. Americans lose half their food to waste. As of 2005, Americans constituted 5% of the world’s people, yet we took up 24% of the world’s resources. I would actually argue that our obsession with independence is actually contributing to this current state of affairs. I look down our street, and I see a row of households, all independent, all separate. Each one of us has one, two cars. Each one of us has a vacuum cleaner, a stereo, a lawn mower, the list goes on and on. The resources required for us all to live independent from one another is staggering. I am not absolving myself of this, but I’m questioning why it must be so. Do we all need to live on communes and give up every ounce of our privacy? I’m not saying that. I’m saying that we could do a lot better though, and perhaps part of that is being willing to reconsider our collective values and their effects on our ability to live on this earth together.
Perhaps if we were more willing to lean on each other and live collectively, we would consume less. Perhaps if we consumed less, we would have more to give. Perhaps, if we had more to give, we would be more willing to open our hearts to individuals of all differences. Perhaps, if we had more to give, we could accept more. Perhaps, the world could accept my kid as valuable just the way he is.
So why did I blog? Why do I blog? See the above picture.