Last night, I watched a holiday movie that has been around for more than 70 years. In the beloved classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) endures several hardships before deciding to end his life by jumping off a bridge. He feels his family would value him more if he were dead. However, he then gets to see what the world would be like if he hadn’t been born.
As someone who has had depression for the last few years, I relate to Jimmy Stewart’s character. I’ve often felt like a burden to my friends and family because of my Cerebral Palsy. Sometimes, I feel like I create more work for my friends and family.
What makes for a truly wonderful life? I often ponder this question after I’ve finished watching the movie. People who can’t speak, walk, or require care can still enjoy their lives. The proper support can allow people with various disabilities to attend school, work, and participate in community activities. Disabled people have the right to live in the most integrated setting possible.
People with intellectual disabilities should be a part of their communities. People with mental health disabilities should receive the support they need. Doesn’t everybody deserve to live a meaningful life?
The world often sees disabled people as inspirational or a drain on society. We are called inspirational for going to prom, participating in an athletic event, or finding employment. If a non-disabled person does any of this, it usually doesn’t go viral. Inclusion should be standard practice rather than a surprising gesture worthy of making the evening news.
On the other hand, if we aren’t working hard enough, we are often thought of as lazy. I receive disability benefits. People have told me that I’m lucky to receive SSI benefits. I’d much rather be employed. It is incredibly challenging to live off disability benefits.
Life with a disability is sometimes challenging. Disabled people face numerous challenges every day. A disability doesn’t mean someone can’t enjoy life. We can have bad days, take risks, experience joy, and have fun. Disabled people are human, just like anybody else.
Shapiro, Joseph. “Lois Curtis, Who Won a Landmark Civil Rights Case for People with Disabilities, Died.” NPR, NPR, 5 Nov. 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/11/05/1134426128/lois-curtis-who-won-a-landmark-civil-rights-case-for-people-with-disabilities-di.