We all have a few. Words that leave a bitter feeling in our gut when we hear them. For me, that word would be “disability”. Its not the word that irks me, it’s the negative connotation that comes with it. It insinuates that just because you have a “disability” that you’re somehow less than, or lower on the food chain because of it. You probably know from people who you’ve maybe encountered who were “disabled” that they are far from being less than the rest of society.
I’m a firm believer that each and every human being has potential. I don’t think everybody unlocks their potential, but its there. So when I see somebody or meet somebody who has a medical condition, my first question to myself is “I wonder what their potential is”. I don’t like to use the word disability because to me it feels like I’m putting somebody into a box, or building a wall around them. If you ask me the word, along with the connotation it carries, is disabling in itself.
What kind of a message do we send people when the way we treat people revolves around whether or not they have a medical condition? Are accommodations necessary? Yes, but so is equality. By equality I mean we don’t judge a person based on conditions, but on their merit. Everybody gets the opportunity they deserve, regardless of conditions, colour, sexual orientation, you name it. I’m not saying that people should be put on a pedestal. I’m saying we should be able to look at each other for who we are. Human beings.
Should the word be outright removed from the English language? I don’t believe so, but we should change the way we use the word. It should be used strictly in the medical sense, not as a club with which to bludgeon others.
At the end of the day, it is just a word, but as they say, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” To summarize, remember the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.