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AN ABLED PERSON’S ‘GUILTY’ PERSPECTIVE

I am not sure how much are my teenage experiences going to make sense, but I shall try.

Only a few years back, I had a blank space for opinions on diversity and inclusivity, especially with respect to persons with disability. This nowhere implies that I had been devoid of interactions with PwDs. At multiple instances, I have crossed paths with them. However, formerly I (like most other people) had sympathy and curiosity about their lifestyle. Emotion to be noted- sympathy. Every time I came across someone with a disability, I had some kind of guilt shackle me- to an extent that I would go beyond means to help them out, at times without even asking if they’d need any.

I am going to talk about the guilt today. And I would like to term this guilt as ‘Power Guilt’.

I define Power Guilt as the feeling of guilt borne out of one’s awareness about their relatively powerful position against someone- socially, economically, or physically. To keep up with the theme of the blog hop, I will choose the last one. The guilt of being physically more powerful than someone.

This definition is based on three premises.

First, our reaction. Let us analyse what is our reflex reaction upon seeing a person with disability. Sympathy, appreciation for their courage, and an over-polite attitude at times- isn’t it? If we tear apart these upper layers of visible emotions, we will find them rooted in guilt. (Putting forth bluntly) The guilt of being ‘able’ makes us sympathetic towards people possessing that ability differently. The guilt of doing something with apparently more ease than them makes us appreciate their courage to do it nonetheless. We feel guilty of life already being rude to them, and thus treat them with utter politeness.

Second, our help. In one instance, I helped a visually impaired friend mix her daal chaawal without ensuring that she needed it, and another friend made me realise how ‘power-imposing’ that approach was. Don’t we get the urge to help persons with disability as soon as we encounter them? In an effort to leave no stones unturned to make them feel ‘abled’, we end up translating our power guilt into ‘help’ which isn’t needed at times.

Third, our gratitude. A lot of times, a prayer of gratitude flies up to the sky under our breath. We subtly feel grateful for possessing what the person we just encountered doesn’t. We realise the relative ‘power’ we possess and that sudden feeling of gratitude might appear to be a shield we put on for that power. However, I strongly believe that gratitude is our magic garb hiding our delicate guilt.

I might be wrong in proposing such a strong definition with these premises, but this is what my experiences have made me realise over the years and this is an amalgamation months of contemplation and first-hand experiences.

My aim for this blog post was to express disability from the perspective of an ‘abled’ person in the rawest, most ungarbed, and undiluted form. I am still learning to accept and channelise my ‘power guilt’ in a direction that leads me to cohabit in a safe, guilt-free, and inclusive space with all.

This post is a part of the “International Day of Disabled Persons” blog hop hosted by Sakshi Varma – Tripleamommy in collaboration with Bookosmia. #IDPD2022Bloghop. 

Access all posts of this blog hop at https://tripleamommy.com/2022/12/02/idpd2022-lets-make-this-world-a-more-inclusive-space/

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10 thoughts on “AN ABLED PERSON’S ‘GUILTY’ PERSPECTIVE

  1. Your concept of power guilt will stay with me for long. There is a need for a society which is more acceptable and inclusive and where an individual is given more focus and other things just take a back seat. Thank you for sharing your valuable thought.

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  2. Power guilt… I totally can relate to your thoughts. Our urge to help without being asked for, over-politeness, and gratitude, all our reflex reactions are rooted in the fact that society has yet to accept inclusion, acceptance, and equality. We need to put the emphasis on the person and not the disability. Wonderful and truthful post I must say.

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  3. There’s something about having power that can make people feel guilty. Maybe it’s because we know we have more than others, or maybe it’s because we’re afraid of abusing our power. Whatever the reason, guilt is a common emotion among those in positions of power. Guilt can be a helpful emotion, motivating us to use our power responsibly and moderately. But too much guilt can be paralyzing, leading us to hesitate when we need to take decisive action. It’s essential to strike a balance, acknowledging our privilege without letting it overwhelm us. If you’re feeling guilty about your position of power of being able-bodied, try to remember that you’re not responsible for the situation the person is in. You can’t fix everything, but you can use your influence for good. Use your guilt as motivation to do what you can to make the world a better place. Don’t jump the gun and do things for them…let them know you are there if they need help, but also let them do their work the way they like it. I practice this on the blind dog retired police dog I have adopted from a shelter. I just provide the stimulus and rest; she does it herself…. from scouting the house to eating or walking with me… I guess the same applies to humans too…

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  4. A very different perspective indeed. I can relate to it not in the context of disability, but in the context of poverty. I felt guilty to eat during the first Covid lockdown because I knew that so many didn’t have food.

    However I believe that accepting that I have had both good luck and bad luck has helped me to relate to people from a more neutral perspective. We all are on a spectrum, in every which way. This idea has helped me.

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  5. This is an amazing perspective, and yes I agree to the gratitude part.i guess for the guilt part I have to delve deeply into my thinking and I ve a strong feeling I will discover what you have already done

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  6. Wow!! I loved your honesty and it’s a brilliant beginning to become sensitive and enable inclusiveness in the long run. You are on the right path, I guess. 🙂

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