Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On Raising A "Productive Member of Society"

Friends, I often come across, shall I say, interesting viewpoints about children like Jack. I normally chalk it up to people being, well, people, and let it roll off my back. But every once in awhile, a comment or something written sticks with me. This is one of them.

"More money is desperately needed for cerebral palsy research because we need to be raising productive members of society."

At first glance: um... OK?

On second glance: um NOT OK.

We need to be raising productive members of society.

As opposed to what, I ask? As opposed to my son as he is right now? Are you saying he is a drain on society because of his inability to be "productive"?

How about we advocate for more research dollars because we don't want to see our children suffer? Or how about we advocate for more research dollars because we don't want another child's life cut short because of a debilitating disease? How about we advocate for more research dollars because IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

But raising productive members of society? What does this mean anyway? That our value as human beings is in how much we are able to produce? That unless we are contributing to economic growth, we are somehow less than? That every other person with sickness, disability, or an extra chromosome are a drain to the system?

Where is our sense of humanity when the only thing we will settle for is absolute perfection? I would argue that a society without a Jack is a society that is a whole lot less bright and meaningful.

Of course I want a cure for cerebral palsy, but it's not because I'm lamenting the fact that I can't raise a son that will go out and produce, produce, produce. My son is not a drain on any system. Quite the opposite, actually.

Can we see past the rhetoric to the humans behind the phrase? Trust me, being "productive" ain't all it's cracked up to be.
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Sarah said...

Good for you, dear! Jack and all children with any kind of special needs bring out the best in those good enough to stop for one minute and offer a warm smile. Just as they would all other perfect blessings, because all children are perfect and amazing, just as they are.

Lynnie said...

I never really interpreted 'productive' to mean someone that earns money, pays taxes, doesn't rely on government medical things etc. My interpretation of being 'productive' is someone that is contributing to the world to try and make it a better place. It doesn't necessarily refer to having a job. THe person may have been hoping (correctly or incorrectly) that their hope was that if people with cerebral palsy had their condition lessened or were more able, then maybe more opportunities may open to them that weren't possible prior. I am not convinced the person may have thought that those with cerebral palsy were not contributing to this world. I do not see malice in the comment straight away. But maybe I'm wrong. People just have different interpretations of 'productive'.

Jessi said...

Hi Lynnie,
I would argue that my son ALREADY contributes to the world and makes it a better place. And that is really my point.