The quip above comes from Miles’ Law, commonly used in political science and public policy to describe how each person might view the same policy or principle differently. In my opinion, it is one of the most critical considerations both in public policy, and in life.
In preparing for tomorrow’s surgery, I’ve had one of those moments where you realize how easy your particular seat has been. At first, I was worried about the stairs in my apartment, which head upwards at a pitch barely navigable on two good legs (Example: The 5th tread is 2 inches short). This challenge is easily resolved; I packed a bag and am heading for my parent’s house to recover. Still, I am grateful for my family and friends, who are willing to have my crutched and dazed self into their homes.
Wandering around the grocery store last night, however, it occurred to me that the stairs in my apartment were just the beginning of things I will need help with. Managing a cart on crutches will be impossible. As will climbing over the side of a bathtub or using the toilet. My independence is temporarily gone, as I cannot drive or ride the bus. At work, I run up and down the hospital stairs all day long because the elevators are painfully slow. Again, I am lucky to have a network of wonderful people who are going to take care of me over the next few weeks.
I share all of this not to elicit sympathy, as my situation is temporary, but because it made me think about the members of our communities who face mobility challenges every day. The world is just not set up for people with ambulatory restrictions. Sure, we provide wheelchairs in the grocery stores, but even so, the majority of goods are out of reach.
As I head into surgery tomorrow morning, I will be nervous. By tomorrow afternoon, I will be in some pain and at some point during recovery, I will begin to complain. However, I hope that my temporary new perspective not only puts my complaining in check, but that is also yields a long term appreciation for some of the challenges people face in everyday life.