A Chair is not Always A Chair

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In response to a question I saw to today:

Some people say “Don’t let disability define you.” Others believe we should “let disability define us – it’s part of our identities.” Which answer is right?

My reply:

Language itself is symbolic:  Words ARE labels, and conjure up ideas and images. Many labels are okay, if they are used as a STARTING POINT, and don’t limit our way of thinking.

A child sees a chair, and might even THINK “Ha, that’s a chair”. But leave that child alone in a room with that chair, and soon it becomes a mountain, a dragon, a space ship, almost anything and everything else BUT a chair.

In that way, labels like “disabled”, “blind person”, “dwarf”, can be helpful, in terms of quickly identifying what we need, and what works best for us. Without these labels, we’d never find each other on Facebook for example.

But those labels are JUST THE BEGINNING of who we are, and what we can accomplish.  Like a child, we can use our imaginations to become much more than the labels assigned to us.  We should also use that imagination to see more in others, no matter what labels THEY assign to themselves.

Labels are rarely the problem, unless the label is very rude. It’s how they are used, and how long we get stuck on them that causes more trouble.

Just a thought, from this curious dwarf, father, blogger, children’s book author, who lives in the land of Montreal, and is always trying to add more interesting labels to his definition.

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One Response to A Chair is not Always A Chair

  1. Bonnie Sonnenschein says:

    As a species we humans LOVE to label and categorize stuff. Efficient and quick, but definitely often LIMITING.

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