We don’t say this in polite society, but our society isn’t polite anymore, so I will spell it out: Our culture has long been riven with the idea that people with disabilities lead such miserable lives that their lives aren’t worth living. You hear this when people say, “If that happened to me, I’d kill myself.” The notion springs from being afraid of what you don’t know. If you happen to be young and able-bodied, for instance, the idea of being old and crippled frightens you and you can’t imagine that you could possibly be happy in that state. Conversely, if you happen to be able-bodied and healthy now, but are not particularly enjoying the experience, you may comfort yourself by thinking that at least you’re better off than the disabled.But perhaps you aren’t. Perhaps you and the disabled have more in common than you think. I cannot speak for everyone officially classified as disabled, for they constitute 20 percent of the population, and are as heterogeneous and complicated a group as you could wish for. But I can speak for my son: There are times when his misery is agonizing and explosive, and there are times when his joy lights up the whole neighborhood. The power of his emotions is such that he seems to be both happier and more miserable than most people I know. Surely, he is as complex and vast.This fear we have, of losing what we have now—our memory, our ease of movement, our health—can make us push the inevitable away to such an extent that we start believing that misfortune or simple decay only happens to other people, people who have not said their prayers, or exercised daily, or popped the right multivitamin. We “other” the sick, the disabled, the old. In so doing, we divide ourselves into us and them, “us” being the somewhat fit, “them” being all of those people with oppressive medical bills and annoying demands.The most recent example of this sort of thinking pops up in Alabama Representative Mo Brooks’s defense of the AHCA. In a comment to CNN, the Congressman commends Trump’s proposed bill for allowing “insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”In other words: “We,” the virtuous diet-abiders and Fitbitters, are unfairly saddled with the costs of “them”—those slobs who didn’t take care of their health. I’d love to see our nation’s fast-food chains go up in a purple cloud of smoke and for fresh nutritious lunches to be given out freely at schools, to every child, including those whose parents do not have decent jobs and cannot pay. I’d love to see more jogging and jump-roping and dancing in the streets. I believe that movement is good for the body and soul, as is stillness. But to imagine that we wield ultimate control over our health is a form of modern madness.