When I first became disabled, I knew of the disability community. From a distance it looked like a supportive community where it was safe to be different and safe to share struggles and safe to participate in the advancement of rights for ourselves and for those like us. From a distance it looked a lot like a Bette Midler song.
I have been attacked before, from within the disability community, for stances I’ve taken, for the way I’ve expressed myself, for holding divergent views. Some of these have been painful attacks seemingly motivated by anger and intent to hurt, but some others led to me learning and changing. I’m not opposed to debate and disagreement, I think they are healthy, but when laced with a kind of unfathomable hatred it’s not debate and it’s not disagreement it’s emotional disembowelment.
I received one of those kind of attacks this morning about the post I wrote yesterday. I knew when writing it that the likelihood of success was somewhere below zero, but I also knew that because I was so touched and moved by “This Is Me” that I wanted to try. It costs nothing to try. It costs a lot to decide to lose before starting. So I wrote the blog and a number of people have, wonderfully, shared it. The chance of it being seen has moved up from less than zero to zero and that is a little victory in and of itself.
But, I was told that, “as usual” I was focusing on trivial issues with no chance of success and needed to face the real issues facing the disability community. Apparently I need to “focus my considerable energy” on what matters to the person who wrote me, who damned me, who ridiculed my efforts. Firstly I was glad to find out I had “considerable energy” because it doesn’t feel like it, day to day, in my real life. Secondly, I felt like I was being told that I was a bad disabled person doing meaningless things.
“Hold on,” I responded, “aren’t we on the same side?”
I learned then that I was a “shameless self promoter who does things for attention rather than for social change.”
I’ve seen these kind of attacks happen on line to many disability activists from other disability activists. Infighting, it seems to me, takes time away from our job of making change. It gives an excuse for lack of action. I don’t care what front you are fighting on, what battles you choose to pick, we are WARRIORS, and the battle is far from won.
I salute those of you who fight the fight in whatever way you choose to fight it.
You don’t need to salute back, but maybe you could approach me unarmed.