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Home / Science / What's wrong with Stephen Hawking is "finally free" from Megan Wildhood – YES! magazine

What's wrong with Stephen Hawking is "finally free" from Megan Wildhood – YES! magazine



When Stephen Hawking died on March 14, cartoons of a man getting out of a wheelchair and lighting a big light flooded the social media. Tweets that he was "finally free" bombarded feeds, along with contributions that thank him for being an inspiration to people with disabilities everywhere. Hawking, who died at the age of 76, was the longest living person with the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is indeed necessary for people with disabilities to see more people as themselves as role models, given how little there is in the world, but so much of what has been said about Hawking's life and death has been transmitted Ableism distorted.

It's amazing that Hawking inspired so many people, but Hawking's tributes often say that despite his disability, "he's got such a size anyway." Too many people see a disability that categorically disqualifies a person to lead a meaningful life.

But Hawking himself did not see his disability as a major hurdle he had to overcome to understand the cosmos: "In my opinion," he said, "Handicapped People and Science " "One should Concentrate on activities where physical disability is not a serious disability … My disabilities were not a major handicap in my field of theoretical physics, in fact they helped me in some way by teaching me about lectures and administrative work, which I would otherwise have been involved in protecting. "

If Assuming that people with physical disabilities have too much to overcome to achieve greatness or even function in the world, paternalism and fragility are promoted. Both make it difficult for us to make the contributions to which we are called.

Whether we perceive our disabilities as obstacles or not depends on our individual circumstances: if every building a person in a wheelchair needs to use has elevators, if the people they interact with do not treat them as a compassion project if they are able to meet their needs without a fight, if their chosen field is "mainly in the mind" – as Hawking says about the theoretical sciences – then disability is not an obstacle

It's about asking us how we think about our bodies in the world, rather than assume that our bodies are loads.

My answer is that my disability is not accessing my body. My disability is a society lacking sufficient support that lacks affordable, available and adequate care and social acceptance. It is also a society that often unknowingly represents this notion that greatness gives meaning to life.

This is based on the capitalist assumption that productivity is the only measure of human value, and that is why the "free market" has largely failed to provide all people equally. Sub-minimum wage allows employers to pay less for one person with a disability for the same job. For too long, such discrimination has responded to capitalism's need for profit rather than human need.

When I point out the difficulties of capitalism in resolving disabilities, I do not deny my disability. Pretending that people with disabilities are just like people without disabilities can be just as derogatory as open discrimination. While disabled people are human beings and like everyone else have relational, material and spiritual needs, by definition we have additional needs – medical, supportive, accommodative. Disability is the only minority that most people can join at any time and that they can finally do thanks to accidents and old age.

Like many other conditions, ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, needs support. It is a disease that causes the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles. The cause in 90 to 95 percent of cases is unknown; The remaining cases are considered inherited. Muscle stiffening, twitching, atrophying and weakening, resulting in difficulty talking, swallowing and finally breathing. There is no cure; the only treatment is palliative: non-invasive ventilation

The usual onset of ALS is between 50 and 60 years. Hawking was diagnosed in 1963 at the age of 21 when he received his doctorate in Cambridge; his doctors told him that he had about two years to live, which is the average life expectancy for someone with ALS. Hawking continued his studies. After his diagnosis, he struggled with depression, but eventually went to a place of genuine acceptance. But he could not continue without help. "But I only made it because of the great help I received from my wife, children, colleagues and students," he said.

In his death Hawking is not "free" now. It is deducible to imply how the graphics of a person coming out of a wheelchair and approaching the light causes only those who can walk to be fulfilled, and that those who can not walk are only fulfilled in death can. The idea that disabled bodies are free of things indicates intolerance to them, which is inherently dangerous; finally, it becomes easier to ignore cruelty or justify indifference. The lives of people with disabilities are just as valuable as those without disabilities; The way we think about disability affects us all. If death is liberation, it is for all people, for the disabled or for others.


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