UPDATES, PLUS DISABILITIES AND SUPERPOWERS:
Hey everybody! Long time no see! Here are some updates! I had another paper published, enjoyed the Doctor Who 50th, and had my own birthday on 11/22. With conventions coming up (notably Ohayocon!) you can be sure I’ll have some anime reviews, and possibly a review of Ohayocon 2014! Stay tuned! For now, here’s a copy of the article that was published in HireGround. ( From Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.) It’s called “Disabilities And Superpowers”.
Disabilities and Superpowers
By Chris Bowsman
Editor’s note: Chris Bowsman, age 28, has a B.A. in German, M.A. in Intercultural Communication
If you enjoy Chris’ writing, look him up on the VSA website at http://www.vsao.org/, or follow his personal blog “Through Alien Eyes” at http://www.christopherbowsman.blogspot.com/ (Chris’s Note: Hey, that’s here!)
I’ve always loved superheroes. When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to be like Professor X, leader of the X-men. I didn’t have his superpower of telepathy, but hey, I was in a wheelchair, like him, so that was a good start, right? Or at least, that was the reality I lived on the inside.
But on the outside, much of my daily existence was just an exercise in willpower forged from dealing with my dependencies. It still is. Nobody saw my mental Professor X; what they saw was a kid rolling around or occasionally being pushed, often demanding extra attention and struggling to articulate words that were often hard for them to understand, limbs sometimes jerking in unexpected directions.
This was the overlay I grew up with. It’s the titanic clash between the multitudes of disabilities people see on the outside, versus what those of us experiencing a whole different world within can create mentally. One of my favorite poets laid it out this way: (Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself")
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
If superhero stories tell us anything, it is that people have hidden talents beyond what others can see. Charles Xavier is not just a professor, but the world’s most powerful telepath. Mild-mannered Clark Kent is Superman. Of course, no one looking on from the outside could see these powers of the great superheroes, either. But the invisible (Much more human) lessons we can learn from them involve determination, empathy, and wisdom…just to name a few.
You see, everyone tries to make meaning out of their abilities; what they can and can’t do. I’m still trying to make meaning out of mine. I’ve come a long way from just wanting to be Professor X, to traveling abroad, obtaining my degrees in German and Intercultural Communication!
Two of the most dangerous things you can do, in my opinion, are assuming that physical differences are bad, or pretending that we’re the same as you if you don’t have a disability. Above all, a body must be lived in, and all of us embody a little different view of the truth. Remember the Walt Whitman quote above? And as Professor X said: “We’re not dangerous…we are different.” Don’t be afraid to learn from these differences. Embrace them! Understand them! You may be surprised.
In sum, I don’t have telepathy; but I have empathy. I don’t have super strength; I have my spirit. To me, superheroes are just about simple human abilities that I have, and how to use them. Each one of us has some amazing abilities if we try to discover them. Who knows? That mild-mannered reporter could be Superman. Yes, even that guy in the wheelchair could be Professor X!