I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories, things like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Seveneves. These wild adventures get both my adrenaline pumping and my imagination flowing. So when two new movies in this genre hit the scene recently, I was eager to watch them. Both were entertaining and scary, as I expected, but they also made me think about the importance and power of our individual differences, even our disabilities, to the future of us all.
If you are a fan of the genre, check them out and see if you agree.
The first movie is A Quiet Place, which ironically has been nominated for an Oscar in sound editing. In the movie’s post-apocalyptic world, monsters hunt by sound causing everyone to live in absolute silence or risk an attack. Something as simple as a dropped dish could create a life threatening situation. Outdoor paths are lined with sand and indoor spaces are cushioned to muffle every noise. Survivors must learn to communicate without speaking aloud.
The second movie, Birdbox, is available on Netflix. In its strange new world, people cannot look at the invading supernatural phenomenon without losing touch with reality and seeking their own death. Going outside without a blindfold is impossible so people learn to shelter at home with their windows draped and to navigate out-of-doors using sound and other mechanical tricks. Permanent safety requires a daring outdoor trek without the benefit of sight.
In both movies, people’s most elemental approaches to the world were compromised. The key to survival was successfully adapting to the loss of these most basic of functions. This is something those of us with sensory disabilities do every day. In these new worlds it wasn’t always the strongest that survived, but instead it was those who were better able to adapt to life’s constantly changing circumstances. Those who live with adversity have more experience with this.
While these dramas are fictional (I certainly hope they remain that way!) they are also inspiring because they demonstrate that our society’s greatest asset is the diversity of our individual strengths and weaknesses.
We see this today through universal design elements like ramps in public spaces. Ramps not only help people who use wheelchairs but also parents with strollers and travelers with heavy luggage. It is apparent when organizers use a microphone at meetings. Using a microphone benefits people with hearing loss, but also boosts retention of the content for everyone at the meeting. When we strive to include those who need assistance, everyone benefits.
Let’s hope it doesn’t take an apocalypse before society starts more regularly harnessing the power of our individual differences for the greater good.
Readers, what power do you find in our differences?