Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Her Contribution

I assumed that when Ellen posted, “Are People With Disabilities Contributing Members of Society?” she was referring to people like my Kimani, people whose disabilities will preclude them from gainful employment, and most any achievement or accomplishment that will somehow add value to our society... people who will likely need to be cared for physically and financially their whole lives.

butterflyFirst I ask you, what does it really mean to be a contributing member of society? How is a concept like that measured? By giving as much or more than you take out of some collective pie? Deciding who is a contributing member of society is a slippery slope if there ever was one but Ellen bravely concludes that people like Kimani do contribute to society,
People with disabilities are contributing members of society. They show us what really matters in life, what it means to be human, what it means to be loved and accepted simply for being, not because of what we can or cannot do.
I know where she was going with that. It is the same place I was trying to go when I wrote “Seeing in the Raw” for the HighCalling.org a year or so ago. Kimani is human, raw human and she is loved simply because she exists. She is lovable exactly as she is. But that has more to do with inherent value than it does actual contribution to something.

Aren’t they impossible to unravel... direct and indirect contributions to society? Very few people who make direct, valuable, measurable, lasting contributions to our society would claim there is no one who motivated them or affected their desire to do what it is they did.


And I think that is what Ellen meant, that people like Kimani contribute to society indirectly by influencing the people around them to be more compassionate, thankful, tolerant, and perhaps even drive them to adopt, research cures, donate time and money, and to develop policies and enact laws. Is the butterfly who flapped its wings any less of a contributor than the tsunami it caused?

No, Kimani does not change everyone who meets her. In fact, she will likely only have true impact on a very small circle of people. But who can measure what the currents from her little wings will bring forth? Who even has the right to try?


Extranjera said...

Hmm. I'm still grappling with this whole concept of contributing, how it seems to mean a plethora of things while still having very uncontested neat limits, and it being something that everyone needs to/ is expected to strive for because of... what? I'm also really incensed by the implicit assumption that those who can get a job and pay taxes and have children are somehow automatically considered contributing members of society and don't often find themselves defending their perceived 'contribution', or at least justifying it with anything than 'but I am'.
Incensed? Make that pissed off instead.

TUC said...

I agree with you. This is a big topic, and my mind just keeps turning on it. More posts are coming :-)

goldenleaves said...

This post made me tear up a little- little wings are making waves so big we'll never know the full impact.

Laura said...

Makes me think of a mountain man, who doesn't want to be around people, and goes off to live as a hermit. Does he make a contribution? He's like the tree in the wilderness; does it make a sound when it falls, if no one hears it? Doesn't he have the right to live as he chooses, and to interact (or not) with whomever he chooses? Doesn't every human have the right to exist, regardless of who, or how many, they impact? I wonder if this question is more about consumption than contribution. How much is one allowed to consume? Does your contribution even out your consumption? This gets sticky when one starts to consider what "consumption" might mean, on many levels. I'll stick with the premise that human life is precious, based on being made in God's image. So simple.

Kristen's mom said...

Kristen was here for 24 years. She accomplished and contributed more of what really matters in life in her short life than most do in a long life time. Even today, almost 3 years since she left, she is still contributing as she is touching and softening hearts.

Unknown said...

Contributing to society comes in many different ways I think...I contribute different then my hubby...but we both contribute...Maddie will contribute and so will her brother...some in the same ways and many in different ways...I think that what rubs me the wrong way is the thought that a disability teaches someone else how to live or what to be thankful for...I learned to to live when I realized life is really short...perception of life is through the eyes of the beholder...smiles

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