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Defining Dory

June 30, 2016
DANIEL

DANIEL

Caleb Daniel
Managing Editor | csd020@latech.edu

love a good story.

Whether in books, movies, video games or comics, a well-told story can draw me into it until I almost believe it’s real.

Part of my passion for stories comes from the idea that the good ones, no matter how fantastical, convey messages of real-world significance in their fictional packaging.

These insightful glimpses of reality inside imaginary worlds are the focus of my Fact In Fiction columns, and this installment is inspired by one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters: “Finding Dory.”

Back in her own film after 13 years, Dory still suffers from short-term memory loss, a condition the surrounding characters handle in different ways.

Throughout much of the movie, Marlin the clownfish struggles to trust Dory, believing that because of her memory problems she cannot do anything on her own. To Marlin, short-term memory loss defined Dory as a person. Or as a fish, I guess.

When she was a young guppy, however, Dory’s parents looked past her shortcomings and loved her for who she was. Her mother raised her to believe “you can do whatever you put your mind to.”

There may not be too many memory-impaired fish in our lives, but most of us know someone with a disability, illness, etc.

To me, the greatest message of “Finding Dory” is this: No one is defined by their disabilities or conditions. Treating someone as though their disability is all they are is extremely disrespectful and even hypocritical.

The mother of a close friend of mine has struggled with chronic fatigue immune deficiency for more than three years. Some days the pain does not allow her to leave her bed. Even while trying to help, many family friends have hurt this woman by allowing her illness to define their perception of her.

Every time they see my friend’s mom, these people fret over her and talk about how awful her illness must be, or they make suggestion after suggestion about how she might overcome it.

Whether intentionally or not, these people’s words imply to my friend’s mom that her life is a waste of time until her illness passes. The truth is, this woman is not just a person with a crippling disease. She is a beautiful, strong, passionate mother and wife, who also happens to be sick.

One’s illness or disability no more defines them as a person than my utter lack of baseball talent defines me. Dory is not just short-term memory loss, Nemo is not just a short fin, and Gerald the seal is not just whatever his problem is.

So whether you know a blind person, an ill person, or a memory-impaired blue tang fish, tell them you appreciate them for exactly the person they are. Who knows? You just might make their day.

Caleb Daniel is a junior journalism major from Lake Charles who serves as managing editor for The Tech Talk.

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