Suffering Presence – 5

The retarded suffer not from being retarded but being retarded in such a world as ours.

[I still cringe a bit inside every rime I hear the word retarded. Perhaps I recoil with shame at my childhood use of the word as an insult and my remaining discomfort with those with disabilities.

Hauerwas used the term in the early 80s because it was the preferred term at the time and an improvement on the terms “idiots” and “imbeciles” that were used before it. In the introduction to Suffering Presence he updates the term to “mentally handicapped” as that was what those who were so labelled preferred at the time.

I imagine the current preffered term is “learning difficulties”, at least it seems that way from my experience in the emergency department but I may be wrong.

I suppose the point is that all terms are problematic and are in many ways revealing about our moral opinions.]

Hauerwas suggests that the retarded are a good way of thinking about humanity and suffering as so many of our definitions of health and humanity include such normative standards as autonomy and capacity that those with intellectual disabilities do not fit into.

He goes on to suggest that it is more the world that needs changing rather than the elimination of those with leanring difficulties.

He also points to a problem with our imaginations:

unable to see like the retarded, to hear like the retarded, we attribute them our suffering. We thus rob them of the opportunity to do what each of us must do-learn to bear with our individual sufferings.


1 Response to “Suffering Presence – 5”

  1. 1 God as a retard « Nelly And I Trackback on January 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

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January 2011

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