About five months ago I was asked to blog on a on a blog site in Sydney Australia called DisCo (Disabilities Conversations) which is part of a website called Ideas.org. So, I downloaded a clock onto my home page which would tell me the time in Sydney and another gadget to let me see what the daily weather was like. At times I publish blogs I’ve used on my own site with minor adjustments. I thought it would be very interesting to write on the blog in another country but I realized there might be some different perspectives once in a while. There have not been any until my last blog entitled Patience and Persistence which reflected my harvesting a wild turkey the first since my disabling accident 11 years ago. Imagine my surprise when my latest post was introduced by the following two paragraphs written by the blog editor:
Hi everyone, welcoming you to another blog from Rich Fabend. Just a side note, we in no way encourage the use of guns or promote hunting or anything of the sort. In Australia there are tight rules and restrictions and definite no-nos about the use of guns. I in fact love turkeys as I think they are very fascinating creatures. However I think that there is a great lesson and moral behind the words that Rich has presented in his blog posts here, and that is about patience and adapting to change.
… He lives in America and it is currently Hunting season there, thus causing the theme of his posts. But from his posts we can see that disability is a daily thing, however if we learn to live with it in our own way, it moves away from something that runs our life to something that is part of our being.
When I first started writing about hunting I fully expected I would get responses from individuals who were uncomfortable with those actions. I also thought any issues would originate in the US and I believed these blogs would be well accepted in Australia. I have absolutely no problem with the comments that were written. Personally, I believe the United States should have stricter gun laws. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized my own misperception of Australia had been formed from watching movies like Crocodile Dundee, Australia, Quigley Down Under and the television exploits of Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter. Obviously, my concepts were inaccurate. I guess that’s the equivalent of people believing that New York State is one huge megalopolis resembling New York City.
While our views of other countries and cultures may be very limited, one thing is perfectly clear to me and that is that, as individuals with disabilities, we are a subculture of our own regardless of where we live in this world. We are brothers and sisters united by our struggle to deal with the profound challenges that confront us every day. I believe, in many ways, we have more in common with each other than we have with many of our able-bodied countrymen. When we communicate there is an unspoken acknowledgment of what our daily lives are like. We immediately understand what each of us is dealing with and feel no great need to explain it.
I originally started my website http://www.handihelp.net/ so we could communicate with each other and more particularly share ideas, shortcuts and equipment that we have developed to reduce the frustrations we face daily. Why should an individual joining our subculture not be able to have ready access to the things that have already been developed which would improve their quality of life? I am speaking here primarily of equipment but I also feel strongly that we should share the mental processes, attitudes and beliefs that have allowed us to adjust to situations that life has chosen to place us in.
So first I should apologize to the people of Australia for the foolish beliefs I had about their country. More importantly, I think we of the world’s disabled community should make greater efforts to share our thoughts and information which will enable us to live more stress-free lives.