Everything You Know Is Wrong,

Part One



The Myth of Rescue

by Lucy Gwin

firefighter with child


The picture shown above will test your powers of observation.
It is here to prove that people see what they want to see. So take a very close look. The valiant firefighter coming down the ladder, braving the flames to save the child in his arms?
In fact he's a modest and quite personable academic who is published in professional journals on the subject of Community Integration of persons requiring long term care. Some years ago he and his associates won a federal grant to research and implement new possibilities in this field.
Having concluded his meticulous researches, he is shown above performing a clinical trial of the theoretical best practice. This eminent researcher is climbing up the ladder to throw that little girl into the fire.
Soon he will travel the country speaking at conferences and conducting seminars where forward-thinking professionals will be trained to implement this cost-effective and thoroughly scientific solution.

Society -- that's all of us -- sees what it wants to see.
It sees that if God chose you to be one of His special people, a team of patient and saintly professionals who specialize in problems like yours will intervene and put you on the road to recovery. With their help you will do battle with your disability. Finally, after a brave and painful struggle, you will overcome your tragedy and take your rightful place in the world again.
This is the myth of rescue. It is both dangerous and powerful. The myth of rescue is bigger than human experience, mightier than the truth.
We didn't come into this world of pain and trouble imagining that we would be labeled, exploited, incarcerated, insulted, ignored, and finally slapped off into perpetual poverty -- all in the name of rescue. At some point in our individual adventures with second-class citizenship, some of us got wise; we came to know that for every Oscar Schindler a batallion of Nazis stands at the ready.

What of the millions yet to become disabled?
What of the millions yet to be born with disabilties, the millions more who are their families and friends? Can't they be warned? Alas, most won't spot the truth even as it singes their flesh. Safe to say: all will be deceived, getting wise the hard way -- if they even get to wisdom. Many will lose their lives in the process.
Most will blame themselves when real life falls short of the myth. Most will beg for cure rather than work for equality. All but a few will refuse to see what they have in common with any other human with any other disability.
They will take their troubles personally, not politically.
They will take their troubles to the experts and be thrown into the fire of betrayal.



Maybe it's wrong to decide what's good for somebody, as New York State did for Dolores King. Learn what Bill Clinton didn't do about it.



This article is edited and reprinted from Mouth #27, the Getting Wise issue. Illustration by B. Faw