...or if not, we should have.
The only thing more important than communication is community, and in fact, one may not be possible without the other.
We human beings are social creatures by nature. We gravitate toward events which bring us closer, be they birthday parties, sporting events, concerts or funerals. We (usually) build our homes close to each other. We come together for common cause. We come together in times of crisis. We instinctively seek contact with our peers. We do these things in order to better support each other, and by so doing, ourselves.
For a long time the disabled among us have suffered from both a lack of communication as well as community. Isolated by handicap and by choice, we too often sit and watch the world go by, believing that we can do nothing. Isolated, we believe that our voice is too small and insignificant to be heard.
Those of us who feel this way are wrong.
Normally what would follow at this point would be a paragraph or two about the special ones among us who have prospered in spite of their handicap. Beethoven. Helen Keller. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Indeed, these were special people, but my post today isn't about them. It's about the rest of us.
We have a voice. It doesn't make a difference if you walk with crutches, or use a wheelchair. We have a voice. Deaf, mute, blind or otherwise... we have a voice... and together, we also have a community.
The internet has made much of this possible. Where before one had to be physically present to engage our peers in meaningful dialogue and community activity, now we are connected by wires and electricity and adaptive devices. The internet, along with creative invention, have leveled the playing field for many of us who lived in virtual isolation before.
The internet has given us a voice. Be it through email, or even blogs such as mine, we now have the ability to be heard throughout the world. The internet has provided a platform for communities and blogs like this one which enable almost anyone to meet and socialize with others of like mind (or not) and all from the relative comfort of our own homes. Limitations to mobility, once an imposing barrier to communication and community, are breaking down. At last, we finally have a voice, and a place where we can be heard. It's a pearl beyond price.
But now we need to learn how to use it.
If you're reading my words now you already have the tools you need to get started. A computer, yes, but you also have something even more precious. A beautiful mind, and a life filled with history and hard-won knowledge about what it means to be disabled in an "abled" world. Right now, perhaps on the other side of the planet, someone has a problem that you've already solved. You have a voice. Share that solution!
Well, you could create a Blog like this one. It's not at all difficult, and is free at websites like Blogger.com or Livejournal.com. Not that ambitious? Join an online community like BuckeyeBarrierBusters.ning.com (if you're local) or any number of its national counterparts. You can even reach out into your own community for opportunities to network with others who share your disability. The point is, we all need to start using our voice. It's healthy, and it's ours to use.
I'll be looking for you on the internet.