Today we honor the fallen veterans who have served our country and kept it free for almost 300 years (maybe more than that but I haven’t kept up with the math). These veterans are dead and their deaths should be respected.
However, there is a whole population of people in America who are still alive, but that America seems to think are better off dead. And personally, I’ve had it with that attitude.
Before you ask, no, I have not seen Me Before You. I intended to, because it looked as if the hero, who has a disability, was going to be represented as a real person. But then I found out he commits suicide at the end, thanks to a Buzzfeed article about the disability community’s response.
A lot of people are saying the disability community needs to get over it. They say that it’s made clear in the movie and corresponding bestseller that suicide is not a choice every PWD makes; it’s simply that one character’s decision. They say the fact that he was able to make the choice is some kind of breakthrough. And…well, if I squint I guess I can see that, but…
No, it’s not working. It’s just not.
You blew it, Hollywood–and JoJo Moyne. You had the perfect opportunity to represent a character with a disability fairly, with a real life. But you went for the angsty suicide plot. Whether you meant to or not, you once again implied that persons with disabilities are better off dead, and that disability is such a tragedy, anyone with one would/probably should kill themselves. That disgusts me for many reasons, not the least of which is the number of persons with disabilities who commit suicide every day. Why? Because of an ableist attitude that says, “We will give you a ramp and an IEP and a shower seat, but at the end of the day it’s our world, not yours. If you can’t do a job, travel, whatever, well, it’s your fault for being born like that/sustaining a disability.”
Get the French over yourselves, every single one of you. Stop exacerbating the tragedy, and ask yourselves what you can do to improve these lives you say you’d rather commit suicide than live.
A lot of members of the disability community are also upset because of the hashtag #LiveBoldly associated with the movie. I’m sure you can figure out why. But just a thought–why can people with disabilities only #liveboldly if they’re choosing not to live? Suicide isn’t a bold decision–it’s one made of desperation, often because you think, to the marrow of your being, that people are better off without you.
It’s Memorial Day, but let’s honor the dead on this day. Let’s not tell the living, “You’re worth more dead than alive” or “I’d kill myself if I were you.” To live, however you choose, doing the best you can–that is living boldly.
I don’t need a memorial, and neither does any other living PWD.