I’m hoping this is my last post on this because some people missed the point and maybe I wasn’t clear enough because even some friends didn’t get what I was trying to say so I will say it plainly because there is a lot of blindness due to uncomfortableness to the subject. We are a not a friendly community to the disabled. Very few people born with a serious disability would ever even think that their body was a temple. That is a statement from people that have always been whole and maybe age is starting to slow them down in some fashion but they don’t get it.
I’m also talking to the people who organize events. Some of whom just patted themselves on the back and said to themselves, “We’re very friendly to the disabled we even have an accessible building.” Hate to break it to you but you probably aren’t terribly disabled friendly. You able bodied people just think you are.
We are living in a peculiar time of being in between ages of the disabled. When I was kid there were a lot more people around who had had polio and were in wheelchairs or had big braces. There were a lot more blind and deaf people around that whose mothers had had rubella. There were more kids born with CP (Cerebral Palsy). So a lot of younger folk don’t see as much of what reality used to be.
And that is about to change in a big way because baby boomers are about to hit their older ages and there will be more people in wheelchairs and with walkers of canes, or with hearing aids or losing their sight that will want to continue to come to pagan events just like they always have and the pagan community is in for a reality check and the rude truth that they aren’t terribly friendly to the disabled with one exception, the Dianic community usually does think about it more than the rest of Clan Oblivious.
So I will share some things I’ve seen. When you plan a spiral dance, where is the place for your elders and the disabled? The outside of the Dance? Or did you put them in the center and let them be part of the energy if they so chose? Because “letting” us be on the outside is condescending not enabling.
Did you have a sign language interpreter? Or did you say we don’t have any hearing impaired people. Maybe they don’t come because you don’t have one?
Do you print your programs and flyers in small type with no large type available?
So you make it easy to find the way to workshops for the people who aren’t sighted or do you just hand out a map and hope everyone gets there? Or point out the room names are in Braille on the doors. Really you expect people to feel their way around the floors and hope they get where they want to go?
Do you space things far apart all over your event site on uneven ground because it looks prettier? Or do you make it easy for someone with a cane or a walker to get from place to place.
If you are having camping, do you have an area for people with disabilities to camp? With volunteer helpers? Because some of us old Girl Scouts still like to camp but don’t if the bathroom is ½ mile from the camping area. This is something the West Coast Women’s Music Festival was excellent at but few pagan camps are.
Do you announce events like fire drills with a bell or bullhorn but not a light?
Do you actually do something to help or do you hinder?
Most people with long term disabilities have learned to cope and they won’t say things and they won’t come out to your events and you will never know they were there and you temporarily able bodied people will go around thinking the people with disabilities don’t exist until one of you aren’t able bodied anymore. And you start asking, “Where is ___? I miss them.”
My body is not a temple. It is a vessel for my spirit and mind. I give thanks for the body and its functions. That at the moment I can see and hear. That I have my cane to use when I need it. I will take care of it because I like being around on the physical plane. I give thanks for what I can do and let things go like the love of dancing. I used to teach dance and love to dance and I will never really dance again. I let that go. I used to be a runner. I will never run again. I used to be a gymnast. I will never do intentional gymnastics ever again, I’m not ruling out any spectacular falls. I’m good at those. But don’t ever tell me my body is a temple.