So I may get quite a bit of heat from this post, which may come as a surprise given my pro advocacy for the severely disabled and such. But this belief stems from years of my own oppression and that of my boyfriend and others like him. And it all starts with a Helen Keller way of thinking that, to many, seems archaic and cruel.
Keller was born in a time where the disabled were often shipped away to asylum by many families who couldn’t handle their children’s disability. Unlike many at the time who would just give up, Keller’s parents took that extra step to hire a teacher to work with Keller, and we all know the story that unflolds from there. She learns to communicate and read despite being blind and deaf, becoming a writer and a socialist advocate with very controversial thoughts.
Thoughts I agree with to an extent.
Her childhood was in the 1880’s, where kids like her would be put in orphanages or kept secret, essentially leading them to a life of mindless tasks or boredom, left in cribs to essentially die. You’d think in 2016, life would be different. And although progress has been made, it’s just not enough. The disabled are still shoved aside to group homes, gaining sub par education, hardly able to find jobs due to discrimination, often leading into a life of poverty set by the government. Situations like this make me question the value of a life as someone disabled, which brings me to Keller’s belief on Eugenics, according to this article.
She was a supporter of the eugenics movement, once declaring, in an ironic twist, that: “Our puny sentimentalism has caused us to forget that a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and to the world
Keller’s belief on human life may be radical, as some sources on the subject involve killing infants after birth who come out deformed mere moments after their life began, eliminating the heartache the child would face later in life, being put into a world of oppression and outcasted from society.
Now, I don’t necessarily believe in murder after birth, a life after utero is a life. Once that child breathes for the first time, you have a life that is irreversible. You don’t get a do over.
But think for a moment if you could prevent a potentially society labeled worthless life from happening in utero? Modern technology can pick up on issues months before the child is born. To end a life you know is in danger would eliminate the need for that worry of acceptance, that need of coming up with a game plan on that child’s care, the harm that would come to them as a second class citizen in a cruel world that would assume that all they are capable of is picking through garbage for recycling or licking stamps in a sheltered workshop someplace.
Keller had a good point.
All lives have value, don’t get me wrong, but with this backwards way of thinking from society that still to this day haunts me. I was bullied to the point of being suicidal, I’ve heard of stories of Bill growing up in the late 60’s early 70’s just as the institution movement was dying down. Life for us, even in 2016, is still bleak. Life may be easier to the point of us living independently with help should we need it, but it just doesn’t seem like enough. Job discrimination, insurance companies denying basic necessities for survival, schools giving up on students to make their Common Core test scores look good, not to mention the harassment in the workplace and beyond.
I would never want a child to be brought into the world as a second class citizen, especially in a world that claims to preach equality when it does the exact opposite.
What is a disabled life worth these days? Is it worth living? Or are we still trapped in the 1800’s? Until we can get out of this ancient way of thinking, and if I can prevent it from happening to any child I have in the future, I would have to side with Keller on this one.
Nobody should live a life in extreme hatred. Something needs to change. We all need some form of value and self worth in our lives, but until things change, this sort of thought process will continue on for many in my shoes as well as those of Keller’s.