Confession time….and this is an embarrassing one.
I sometimes listen to one of those sappy (and I do mean sappy) dedication shows that are on the radio in the evening. There, I said it. I’m not proud of it, but when I’m driving seems to be the rare time these days when I listen to music versus my typical podcasts or the news.
Last week I listened as a guy called in and dedicated a song to his wife. He explained how they met in Columbia, although they’re both from the States. He was there on a work assignment for the State Department. They began to date and then she thought about returning home, but decided to stay and see if the relationship would work out. They have been married five years.
The guy ended the call with, “I’m thankful she has stayed with me despite the fact I am blind.”
Ugh! That was a disappointing end to a relatively sweet story. Not the fact that he is blind, of course, but that by using the word despite that conveys that his blindness somehow makes him unloveable.
When we use the word despite in association with disabilities, we are negating all the strengths and assets that having a disability can bring to who we are. Despite by definition is a negating word. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, despite indicates a “detriment and disadvantage.”
A disability definitely makes things more difficult and challenging at times. In order to fully step into empowerment, though, it is important that we stop using language that diminishes personal wealth the difficulty and challenge of living with disability gives to us.
If the guy dedicating the song to his wife wanted to mention his blindness, what’s a more empowering way he could had framed it? See my suggestion below in the comment area.