There’s a big cardboard box right next to the exit of my local grocery store. On the side of the box is a sign urging everyone to support the Chicago Bears Coat Drive by depositing a coat into the box. The sign says the coats will be distributed to “deserving “people.
Deserving? I wonder who deserves to freeze to death and who doesn’t and what criteria is applied to determine who qualifies as deserving.
It seems that people who are physically crippled, like me, at least survive the first cut when it comes to being considered deserving. Or at least that’s the impression I get when I see those commercials soliciting donations for Disabled American Veterans or the Wounded Warrior Project. All the crippled vets in these commercials have physical disabilities that are immediately obvious. like they’re missing limbs or riding around in wheelchairs.
But there are tons of vets who are wounded in war in ways that aren’t physical or obvious. They have PTSD and stuff like that. Hell, I don’t see how anybody could fight in a war and not have PTSD.
These people are as crippled as I am. But I don’t see anyone like them in those commercials. It’s probably because when you’re begging for donations, you don’t want to take time to explain how some cripples don’t look crippled but they really are and thus they are just as deserving (or not) as those whose wounds are obvious. You just want to get straight to the point, so you stick with those whose wounds speak for themselves.
But even among physical cripples, some of us are considered to be more deserving than others. It matters how you became crippled. The most deserving are those who became crippled in some noble way, such as defending our freedom or foiling a bank robbery. That’s why crippled former soldiers and cops are seen as the most deserving of the deserving. Next come people who were born crippled, like me. People are more likely to forgive us for being crippled because we have a certain innocence. We got this way through no fault of our own. But if you became crippled doing something stupid or nefarious, like diving naked into a shallow river or in a botched bank robbery, you automatically join the ranks of the least palatable and sympathetic of cripples.
So, suppose the Chicago Bears only have one coat left and I show up to ask for it at the same time another guy who’s also in a wheelchair and looks just as crippled as I do also shows up to ask for it. If he’s a vet who was wounded on the battlefield, I imagine he’ll get the coat and I’ll get to freeze to death. But if the other person who shows up at the same time doesn’t look crippled but says they have PTSD, then the last coat will probably go to me. Of course, if that person is also a vet, that might score them enough points toward becoming considered deserving to cancel out my natural advantage. In that case, whoever it is that decides who deserves the coat might have to rip it down the middle and give us each half.
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