|This Next to Normal post is not|
about Aaron Tveit's character. I
just like to post pics of him. Source.
Because we've built such a car-centric society, because driving in most places is the norm, because not driving is seen as different or wrong or downright harmful, this musical can twice cite Diana's non-driving as a particularly irritating side effect of her illness. Dan, her husband, goes so far as to say, "I loved a wife so alive, but now I believe I would settle for one who can drive." Geez, dude.
I usually hear colloquially that 30% of Americans don't drive (although pinning that number down has been problematic), for reasons of age, ability, or desire. That's a lot of people to leave out of our transportation system. Insisting that everyone has to either drive or stay home isolates not only people like Next to Normal's Diana, but also our ever-growing population of senior citizens, and folks who have other, more pressing uses for money that may have been spent on car ownership.
We can do better. We should do better than to just accept that some folks are being left out of participation in society because of the way we've built our transportation system. Diana may be fictional, but her mobility issues are very real.