This is taken from a poetry slam piece I used to perform, reworked and expanded for current times.
This is me.
I'm comfortable with me. Why aren't you?
Is it because I remind you of everything you could be one day? Everything you could lose? What if your child was born like me? Parents often say that they don't care if the baby is a boy or girl, as long as it's healthy - ten fingers, ten toes, one head - but would you love your child any less if it were like me? When I was born in Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1976, my mother was told to divorce my dad and move across the border to California, because she'd receive better benefits for me as a single mother there. My parents weren't on any government services at the time - dad worked in a diecast factory, mom was a bartender - but they were told that the only way I'd get healthcare and other services was if my mom was a single parent on welfare in California. They made too much to qualify for any services, but not enough to pay for them. Within two years after my birth, an explosion in the boiler room sent liquid metal everywhere, giving my dad third degree burns over seventy percent of his body. He nearly died, and spent almost a year in rehab, including practically living in a whirlpool for months. Through all of this, my parents never divorced, never took that advice they were given. We lived in poverty for years, denied the kinds of assistance families with disabled children need.
This could be your story. I could be your child.
I am the freak. I am the malformed fetus. I am the leper, the gimp and the outcast, and I'm exactly like you.
I'm comfortable with me. Why aren't you? Is it because I eat directly from the plate without the use of hands or silverware? Does it offend your delicate sensibilities to watch me eat, even though I never get a spot anywhere one me? I've been using my mouth to do damn near everything for 34 years, now, and I've become pretty good at it. Just ask my wife. But I can see the way your child looks at me, the way you want to crawl back under the rock you came from because your child asks me questions like, "Why are your hands so little?" and, "How come your feet don't work?" But your child is only asking me because that's how children learn. And honestly? I'd rather they learn about me from me, not you. "That's just the way God made him," however well intended, is not the answer. The answer is simply that I was born this way. I had a birth defect, a one in a hundred thousand thing. In the pre-natal Powerball, I got 5 out of 6 numbers and this was my prize. God doesn't pick certain people to be certain ways - shit just happens. People aren't poor because they're lazy, sick because they're weak, or gay because they're sinners. They just are. That's life, and children need to understand that. We need Social Security because people get old, or become or are born disabled. We need Welfare because people can't get work, or are too sick, or too needed at home by their children. We need Medicare because medicine is expensive and doctors are, too. Anyone who says that people stay on Welfare or Disability because it's easy has never had to live on it. I'm 34 years old and live, with my disabled wife, on $900 a month and a whopping $42 in food stamps. I'll let you know when I buy that plasma screen you think I have and get spinning chrome rims for my wheelchair.
I'm comfortable with me. Why aren't you? Or have I already hit it on the head? "What kind of God does this to His children?" Perhaps I make you uncomfortable because I make you question your beliefs, your faith. If the world worked the way you think it does, then why does a former nuclear engineer have Parkinson's and need the government to live? What about all the rest of us gimps? Are we supposed to stay home and out of sight because we're visual blights on your Galtian utopia? We're living, breathing cognitive dissonance in your world view, and I actually respect the ones that say we should just be euthanized, because at least they have the balls to tell us what they really think. But you? You are hypocrites. You want to scream about death panels while you fight the very things millions like me need to survive. You want to decry socialism while collecting Social Security. You complain about government running healthcare while you take advantage of government run healthcare. Do you ever actually listen to yourself?
You're scared. You're scared because you're small, petty, insecure children who need to feel superior to others in order to feel good about yourself. Your self-worth relies directly upon being better than someone else. If they get something you don't, it's unfair. If they have different beliefs than you, they're wrong. If they live and love in different ways than you do, they're sick. You concern yourselves with others' lives because you can only feel good about yourself if you know that you're right and they're wrong and suffering for it. Their damnation is your salvation. Their 'sins' make you virtuous. It's not about right and wrong, it's about being on the winning team. Being superior. Everything in your life depends upon it.
And you know what? Despite all of this, I'm comfortable with you.
Why aren't you?
On a side note, I finally got the last of the computer and art equipment I needed on Friday, so if I still owe you art from my Will Draw For Food diaries, it's coming. Also, if you haven't, please go take a look and see what it's all about as we're still in bad times and can use the help. Every little bit makes a difference.
Lastly, four out of five of the City Council in my town are under indictment for corruption, and this summer I'll be tossing my gimpy hat into the ring to replace them. I'll be talking about that more in the future and asking for your help to turn my Red town a little more Blue. Stay tuned.
Update [2010-3-28 0:4:57 by The Gimp]: Wow, I'm quite humbled by the replies and reccs (Recc List!). I hate to ask, but if you haven't, again, PLEASE check out the Will Draw For Food diaries. It won't defeat a Republican or put a Dem in office, but it will help a few disabled artists (my wife and I) eat. Here are two recent samples: