What is it that defines our innate humanity?
Growing up with what many would consider severe Cerebral Palsy, great emphasis and attention was placed on my speech, or more precisely, how to make my speech understandable to others.
This was a perspective taken by many of my doctors, therapists, teachers, and even parents. But nothing catalyzed this purview on life more than an admonishment by my first martial arts teacher after earning my black belt in Budo Taijustu.
“You must be clear and understandable to others if you want to be successful in this world,” he insisted.
As a college student in my early twenties, I had already spent years in pursuit of transforming my voice from what others often perceived a spastic set of disharmonic tones into a cohesive, crisp, and “normalized” pattern of speech.
It was as if my manifestation of language was somehow incorrect and, simultaneously, it was my sole responsibility to transform it into a format that was understandable to others. Only years later did I realize that my persistent effort toward striving to fit in was ultimately the same effort that not only minimized my humanity but undermined my natural capacity to support others in their own learning. [Read more…]