Pity would be no more--William Blake (from The Human Abstract)
If we did not make somebody poor
You'd think it was obvious, but clearly it's not obvious at all to some people ... Nobody needs pity. Nobody enjoys being pitied--no matter what is promised in exchange. There's a reason "Piss on Pity" is such a popular t-shirt in the disability rights movement.
But don't just take the t-shirt's word for it.... this antipathy to pity has a long, strong history. My favorite version is from George Sand (1804-1876, portrait at left), who experienced regular and intense bouts of despair (she wouldn't have called it depression, but we might today):
I implore you, Pylades, do not see me as a tragic figure, do not tell me it requires an appalling effort for me to sustain this cheerfulness. No, no! This is not a part I am playing, it is not a duty, it is not even calculated; it is an instinct and a need. (from Lettres d'un Voyageur, lettre 5)Or try these lines from the diary of a young American southerner going blind in 1833:
You are sorry for me!!!---Lines written in the diary of Joseph Lyons, Savannah GA (more about Lyons here)
Eternal God! Am I then that thing
As to excite pity!
Give me deep scorn, without disguise,
Most rancorous hate, abhorrence
Any thing, but pity!
Looking for more contemporary evidence against fundraisers that rely on pity? Check out all the other contributions to Blogging Against the Telethon, at Kara's place on Monday.
UPDATE: Kara's got the blogswarm up now--great turnout! But wait, there's more good news: Kara Sheridan is already on the schedule to host an upcoming edition of the Disability Blog Carnival (in October).