Disability, Inclusion, and the Zombie ApocalypsePosted: February 2, 2015
Look. Contrary to how we seem to be acting, we are not actually in the zombie apocalypse. Or, any kind of apocalypse at all. If you doubt my claims, I suggest you look out of your window. Go on, peep. Are there undead corpses roaming around? Are there locusts and frogs raining down from the heavens? The sky is up high and the ground is down low, right? Oceans where you left them? Phew! What a relief.
I am so sick and tired of people justifying exclusion and discrimination by making it seem like we are in the end of days. I mean, okay, for most of human history, the struggle to survive has been real. Back in the day, we were romping about the earth in furs and spears, sure, life was more tenuous. But. That was a verrrrry long time ago.
In the last, say, two hundred years, humans have been ridiculously busy. Anesthesia, dishwashers, photography, air travel, mechanized farming, the internet, nuclear power, toilet paper, vaccines, instant coffee, machine guns, antibiotics, contraceptive pills… These are all from the last blink of an eye in the timeline of human history. Some good, some bad, some TBD.
With all that modern invention, we have gotten to the point that we collectively make 2,720 kilocalories of food for every person on this space rock of ours. Yes, I believe it is true. Yet somehow, huge numbers of us are starving and in poverty, because we can’t stop fighting and trashing the planet long enough to take care of our fellow human beings. We are our own worst enemies.
In this country, especially, I cannot believe that we are arguing about lacking resources to address poverty, lack of access, and inequality. We throw out more food than paper, plastic, metal or glass combined in this country, and we have the largest material requirements in the world (to support our apparently dire need of huge houses, extra cars, bottled water, etc.). I mean, we are a nation that is willing to pay upwards of $10,000 for Super Bowl tickets, for crying out loud.
What about the “if everyone did that” argument? If everyone were in a wheelchair? What if everyone had Down syndrome? If everyone were this, that and the other? I concede that yes, if every single person on the face of the planet suddenly lost use of his or her legs, sure, perhaps we would be in a pickle. If tomorrow, every single baby were born with a disability, yes, it would give me legitimate reason to pause.
These imaginary scenarios, however, are never going to happen. This obsession we have about what the ideal human should or shouldn’t be has got to stop. We are not all the same. That is the genius of the human condition. We are a diverse species, and that makes us strong. Maybe it is wired deep in our brains to worry about this stuff because back in the day, it was an actual possibility that 3 out of the 5 good hunters in the clan broke a limb or succumbed to a disability causing illness, and then the baby born that year had some significant condition. I get it, that would put the group in a real bind. But look, the interwebs tells me that the UN estimates there are somewhere around 7 billion people in this world. Between us all, we can stand to have a little variance. And, we make enough food to feed every single one of us. So is our situation actually so dire that people need to rant and rave in the comment section of every article about disability that “they” are sucking all of our resources? It isn’t about lacking resources, we need better systems to make the world more equitable (and this issue is not limited to disability, of course).
Which brings me to my original point: the zombie apocalypse. Given that we have left the period of human history in which we are living in truly tenuous times, I’ve tried to look into the future. Would there ever be a time in which this irrational obsession with (actually not so limited) resources would become somewhat rational? The only scenario I’ve managed to come up with is the zombie apocalypse. Even then, I’m more of a “live together, die together” type of gal, myself. But go look out the window again. No zombies. I’m even gonna go out on a limb and guess that there are no zombies in our immediate or even long-term future. We are more in danger of irreparably trashing the Earth in the next few decades, in which case the zombies won’t even have a planet to overrun, so no worries.
I’m an optimist. We can absolutely take care of each other, and in so doing, we will all benefit. We can have a more inclusive society; the resources exist, the talent exists, some people are working very hard at it. If we put more energy into supporting those efforts, I think we’d all be a lot happier. Plus, in the off-chance the zombie apocalypse does happen, I think learning how to more successfully cooperate will mean we’ll have a better chance at surviving anyways, am I right?