Sul concetto di “Dipendenza”

On 27 febbraio 2008
I am a dependent person. I eat food whose final preparation I handle myself, but which has come to me across roads laid and maintained by other people from stores staffed by other people — and even those people didn’t grow or raise or harvest or slaughter any of it. I wear clothes made by other people from cloth woven by still others. I am human: I depend on others. And this is called independence.

I am a dependent person. I need human contact, most of which I receive through an Internet built and maintained by many other people. I do not know my neighbors, but even face-to-face interaction requires someone’s cooperation. I have learned from my time in isolation rooms that I can handle a while without human interaction, but that eventually it will become unbearable. I am human: I depend on others. And this is called independence.

I am a dependent person. The words I work with were taught to me by people who wrote and read them before I traced my first A. The language I work in is a living entity, shaped and grown over centuries by billions upon billions of speakers. The ideas I work on are part of a tradition nurtured by many thinkers. I am human: I depend on others. And this is called independence.

I am a dependent person. I do not — have learned that I cannot safely — live alone. I require the patterns of life to be modeled for me over and over again. I struggle to get, and to keep, jobs in workplaces designed for “plug-and-play” workers. I learn some things quickly and easily; I need to be explicitly taught many things that seem obvious to others. I am human: I depend on others. And this is called dependence.

Independent can mean self-governing. It can also mean self-reliant. It can deny others’ influence on our decisions or others’ support in carrying those decisions out. Dependent can mean controlled by others. It can also mean requiring the support of others.

None of us, of course, is independent in either sense. We grow up in social contexts, supported and denied, enabled and disabled by those around us. But some rely on supports which are so common as to go unnoticed, while others use support that is atypical and therefore apparent. Some supports are provided by the community as a whole and go unnoticed, while others are borne — or not — by a small number of people whose lives are profoundly affected.

So I know the ways in which I am dependent not by looking at how I depend on others, but by watching other people. I look to nondisabled people to tell me which kinds of dependence are recognized, which are devalued. I know the shame that comes with asking for “inappropriate” help.
Within the disability community, too, there are fault lines around which kinds of dependence we recognize, which kinds we devalue.
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