I was looking at Facebook yesterday. Last night, there was a documentary on C4 about a stroke survivor, so on the C4 News feed, they advertised the program. There were lots of comments about how this woman is inspirational or courageous. One comment even said she was lucky – I can understand this in the context that even despite her injuries, it could have all been worse. But thinking of this woman getting up every morning, looking at herself in the mirror, do these people really believe she tells herself how lucky she is?
I remember the only time since the stroke that I was told I was “lucky” – it was by an aphasia-sufferer who hadn’t yet seen my disabilities, but it made me laugh. And after all, maybe from her perspective I am? Being unable to communicate as effectively as you once could must be horrible. As we talked, and she subsequently found about the physical limitations, the reaction changed from lucky to “poor you”.
But at the risk of being non-PC, I’m not sure that inspirational or courageous are the right words. As a survivor myself, I’m not sure it particularly takes courage to get up in the morning – it’s a necessity in order to do what we have to do that day. If we didn’t do that, we’d end up just shrivelling up in bed. I don’t think it’s courageous, particularly, to do what everyone else does, to want to get on and live our lives as best we can. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy that this woman is picking the pieces of her life back up (including making documentaries), I’m really pleased that someone like Andy Marr has been able to resume his career fronting one of the most heavyweight current affairs shows on UK tv, but is it really anything above-and-beyond what any of us would do? And if someone wants to feel inspired by that, good luck to them. But I really think it is something that we would all do if we were thrust into this situation. I think we’re all surprisingly resilient, we’d even surprise ourselves.
I get similarly blasé about charities giving out awards for things like “inspiration of the year” – isn’t it just what any of us would do? Certainly, those or us who get involved anyway? To go beyond that and have awards for this and that isn’t eally news, it’s more the charity hoping that mainstream media will pick up on the event, and raise awareness among the public a little.