Imagine a World Where Disabled People are the Norm

Imagine a World Where Disabled People are the Norm

If subspace aliens were monitoring US social media these days, they’d probably have a strong impression that our poor, disabled, elderly, and minorities are tactical geniuses that have bullied, battered, shot at, menaced, shelled, and otherwise terrorized the healthy bubble-dwellers, making them flee to the nether regions in a vast conspiracy of reverse eugenics. As tantalizing a concept as that is, I cannot, alas, claim it as a fact. Even if I did, Snopes would bust me in a New York minute. Still, ignorance and fear will never die; nor do we really want them to. Without those, how are we going to feel superior to anybody? Equality will not get you a table at Rao’s this Saturday.

Imagine an America turned upside down

Bubble-dwellers of America, before you binge-watch THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964), OMEGA MAN (1971) and I AM LEGEND (2007) with a fully-loaded .357 magnum on your lap, rest assured that the great unwashed multitudes are not planning your demise. That would require cooperation and organization on such a grand scale that it would be impossible without installing a fascist government with a plan to exterminate white, disease-free, attractive people down to the last debutante in New Hampshire. No, our fantasies are not of bloody exterminations. We are not a vengeful lot. Comfort and a sense of justice drive our imaginings.

For example, imagine an America turned upside down, where the vast majority of citizens are over 50 and disabled in myriad ways. Instead of hiding away in homes, nursing and otherwise, or passing by a restaurant because there is no accessible restroom, or overshooting a curb cut-out and throwing a wheel on the scooter, we of seemingly limited capacity would own a rest home, own a fully accessible restaurant, and as their city’s head of the Public Works Department, implement a new ordinance that prohibits all curb heights of over a half-inch.

The new normal

No longer would we be called handicappers, cripples, or paraplegics. We wouldn’t be called anything. We would be normal. Mainstream America. Blind would be the new 30. Amputees would have elevated status. Fighting off a fully intact energetic paparazzo is a pain in any world vision, but for amputees in this one, it would be physical therapy.

And here’s the most thrilling part of the whole scenario: Youthful, healthy, fully intact, mostly white citizens would be the caregivers, the shoppers, the companions, the dog walkers, the home health aides, and they would clamor for these positions. It would mean prestige, the most coveted job being that of personal assistant to an incontinent neurology case. Hard to swallow that one, I’m sure. But look, it’s a simple matter of changing cultural norms, and it wouldn’t take as long to do that as you might think. Take Febreze air fresher for example. Instead of making a scent evoking the freshness of laundered sheets drying on a clothesline and calling it Linen Sky, they could easily reproduce the stench of manure and call it Barnyard. There would be resistance at first, naturally. But in upside down world, the marketing industry is just as savvy and effective—only, it is run by us (normal people), many of whom are incontinent. Pretty soon those healthy, strapping young helpers will yearn to spend double shifts with a diapered employer.

Of course, things could get out of hand. Some of those dear, sweet, freakishly symmetrical helpers might become so envious of us that they’d hire cosmetic surgeons to lop off a hand or a leg, or blind one of their eyes to appear more normal, more like one of us.

Why can’t we all accept ourselves as we are? So sad.

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