With Stephen Hawking’s funeral just finishing and the news of his death still too near for some, the internet is still filled with condolences from people all over the world. While each message of well wishes for Hawking and his family shared common themes of sadness over his death and commemorations of his memory and many achievements in his life, no single tweet garnered as much attention as the one sent out by the lead actress of Marvels 2017 cinematic experience “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot.
Gadot tweeted the message pictured above, and I would not have seen this, nor would I have had an issue with it if I had seen it on my own. I first realized that people were having an issue with her above statement while scrolling through Yahoo News. I personally love Gadot, and thoroughly enjoyed Wonder Woman, and I thought Gadot was the perfect person to bring another woman superhero to life on the big screen, so I had to see for myself what the issue was…
And I have to say, I’ve had many discussions about this tweet, and I simply cannot find the issue. I mean, yes, I know what people are getting so fussy over, but I don’t know why.
You see, here’s where the issue comes in for people: Gadot tweeting “You’re free of any physical constraints…” People were quick to tweet back at Gadot, calling her an “ableist”, which I didn’t even know was a word until now, for implying that his disabilities made him less of a person or less accomplished because of his physical constraints. There was no lack of people sharing their disgust over the tweet and its “insensitive” nature toward those who have lived a life with disability and are doing just fine.
And we are. We are fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s always fine. Do we dream every night that we’ll be able to walk and run with other people our age, and wake up realizing that that still isn’t a reality for us? Yes. Do we not wish sometimes that this wasn’t our life, and wonder, “why me?!” Yes. And do we not cry out to God or anyone out there we believe is listening, in despair, wondering how it is fair that we had to be doomed to this fate? Yes! We do. I do. It’s hard not to. I know some of the hardest emotional struggles I’ve had revolve around my disability and why God made me this way, if I am in fact “created in His perfect image” and how am I supposed to believe that His plans will prosper me and not harm me? Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like that. But that’s exactly why I liked Gal Gadot’s tweet. Whether its religion or basic psychology, we as humans are always looking for a way to explain the bad things that happen to us, and that there has to be a reason that I’m doing this. It’s the basic principle that “this is effortful, so the result better be worth the effort” and for some, that result is the faith that God knows the plan for our lives and that one day we’ll be “free of our physical constraints” living an eternity with Him. For some, that is the ultimate goal. And I would suppose that that was what Gadot intended.
Even if you are not religious, death is still freeing from any pain that life brought you. Biologically, you are no longer able to feel and thus, you are ‘free’. It doesn’t imply that in life you were held back by your condition anymore than you actually were.
Am I held back? Well, yes. I can’t play soccer, I can’t run or do sports, and I couldn’t climb on the monkey bars as a child. To a certain extent, I am of course held back, but did that stop me? No. In what I could, I excelled. I had honors throughout my schooling, I’m enrolled in college and living on my own and taking care of myself, and I’m pretty smart, especially considering the statistics on learning disabilities associated with Spina Bifida. God gave me my brain where He took my legs, and He gave me enough to handle what He has planned for me. Biologically, the body can modify itself to make up for what it lacks: you lose one sense, and the others heighten.
My disability doesn’t stop me, beyond reason, and Hawking’s didn’t stop him, beyond reason.
To me, Gadot’s tweet was no different than would be said for anyone else, at any other funeral. Whether with disability or simply old age, most people begin to experience physical constraints. If this was said about an able persons death, who maybe suffered with bad bones from arthritis, or fatigue from age, I would suppose that people would not react as strongly and harshly. But because it was a severely disabled person, and one who was a legendary man to some, people felt the need to step up to the bat to defend him. You can swing at bat for as long as you want, but you’re going to exhaust yourself swinging and completely missing the point, and maybe you’re batting for people who don’t want to be fought for.
I think the fact that so many people who weren’t disabled and even those who were, felt the need to attack this tweet only brings attention to the disability. For those who do not have a disability, yet who “fight” for those who do have one, you’re attracting attention to our disease. It gives us the feeling that we need to be fought for because there’s an “abnormality” and it’s something we cannot fight for on our own. We’re strong. Some of the strongest people I know have had to go through harder things than I bet any of you could ever imagine, and our independence is so vital to us, we’ll look for it even in the tiniest things. Please, don’t fight for us on our behalf. Fight with us, when we ask for it, and when it actually makes sense.
Disabled people: believe in your own strength, and don’t fight to point out “how strong you are” at every turn. Show it. Loving people, regardless of what you’ve gone through, is strength. Maybe we aren’t as strong as we like to appear, if something as simple as this tweet can break us down so quickly. And maybe that’s okay. It’s okay to be weak, especially with what some of us go through. My moments of weakness do not make me a weak person. I am strong, with weak moments, and we all have them. It’s okay to admit that.
One day, we will be free of our physical constraints, because they are there, but while we are here, we all have brilliance and wisdom, and I just ask that we use it, cherish it, and put it to good use. Our constraints don’t stop us, they didn’t stop Hawking, and that’s why the entire world will forever know his name. Gal Gadot, I thank you for this opportunity given to me to speak out about my hope for a future without physical constraints, and to me, you’re still a Wonder Woman for many.
Thanks for Reading!
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