Here's a though provoking TED talk: Stella Young: I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much. I know this, because I watched the talk weeks ago and still find myself thinking about it.
The thesis of the talk boils down to this: we do the disabled community a serious disservice when we frame their lives as primarily inspirational material. Young wants us to remember that of course disabled people go to work, have families, play sports and generally live. Treating these as major accomplishments is demeaning to the disabled, and doesn't provide the kind of support they may actually need (that Facebook post that you use to feel a little better about yourself is far less useful than insuring ramps are installed at your workplace).
Being a fan of all things inspirational, it makes me wonder how many times I've been guilty of what she's describing.
I think my new rule of thumb is this: celebrate people for pushing their boundaries. If that's a person completing their first 5k, or 3rd Iron Man, it doesn't really matter, as long as it's a genuine accomplishment. Showing up for work in a wheelchair, that's just a slightly different morning commute than I may have had. Still, who knew being positive could cause so much harm?
Here, watch the talk.