Spartacus Stories

Here is a collection of Stories written by many different disabled people about the impact that DLA has on their lives. It also includes stories of fear about the proposed changes to personal independence payment.

Admin: benefitscroungingscum, Lucia and Lucy
to add your story email us at spartacusstories @ g mail . com (without the spaces) (your posts are there, just being scheduled throughout the day) (can you add how you want your 'name' to appear ta)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Someone Else's Problem #spartacusstories #spartacusreport

I am an unimpaired, able-bodied man in the prime of my youth. In fact, I’m positively athletic. I’m healthy, chipper, robust and my cheeks are rosy red (and bearded, in a mighty display of hearty masculinity). Not only that, I’m also careful, safety conscious and incredibly lucky. I do not now nor will I ever need to claim any disability benefits. What’s more, since my family share my awe-inspiring vitality (I think our luck is genetic) I have never had any personal experience of anyone who would need to. The cuts to these benefits that the disabled community are currently facing are definitely not going to affect me.
At this point I would expect the people who said “Why are you marching against tuition fee increases when you’ll be out of university by the time they come in?” to tell me that people with disabilities should fight their own battles and we should all mind our own business. That is the logical extension of that poisonously apathetic argument, though I doubt anyone is really callous enough to openly apply it to the Disabled Living Allowance. To give them their due though, there is a serious debate to be had about how far we should go to get involved with social issues which do not affect us. The thing is, despite being a heterosexual middle class white male with a good academic record and no known disabilities, I have yet to find a social issue which doesn’t effect me. Or you, for that matter. It’s easy to pretend that things don’t apply to us and that we are safe from any effects, but it just isn’t the case. For a start, anyone can develop or acquire a disability at any moment (well, anyone except me, because I’m so lucky and healthy and safe), but that’s not what I mean by being affected. What I mean is that stripping back the welfare state and cutting benefits for disabled people degrades their social standing. It undermines the inclusion they have fought to achieve and it regards them purely as a tax burden. In short, it turns them into a problem. I don’t want to live in a society full of problems. I want to live in a society full of people; individual, independent people, resplendent in their humanity and in control of their own identities. Perhaps I’ve lost you. What I mean to say is, a society benefits when everyone within it contributes, and that means we have to make sure they are all able to contribute. Ifwe allow the government to make day to day life a bitter struggle for millions of people then we have allowed the government to make positive contribution a virtual impossibility for millions of people. I don’t want to live in a society where anyone is neglected. I don’t want to live in a society with such a low regard for human worth. No success; no economic nor scientific nor artistic nor social success is valid or impressive while there are still human beings within our society who are unable to share in it. When you look at this struggle as shared self interest, rather than your act of charity for the day, the importance of getting behind what looks like someone else’s fight becomes undeniable.
But what to do? For a person without disabilities to even talk about the issue is a difficult task. Quite aside from avoiding saying anything overtly hurtful, we must also navigate the treacherous path from compassion to sympathy to pity to condescension. It’s not easy. We’d like political correctness to be as simple as training ourselves not to use certain words. “If I don’t say ‘spastic’ or ‘cripple’ then I’ll be all right, no one will be able to call me prejudiced” we silently hope, but it’s not the case. Often I just give up and reach for the most offensive terms I can and use them with a sufficient tone of irony and sarcasm that I assure myself no one will be offended, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. “Look at me, using the word ‘retarded’ as though I were the kind of insensitive person that would use the word ‘retarded’. Gosh, imagine not knowing the correct term for that person’s condition!” The problem is that even within the disabled community there is no consensus on what is and is not acceptable. You can’t win, so let’s obsess less over the words we use (while still doing our best not to cause offense, obviously) and focus more on our attitudes. Once we allow ourselves to view any attack on people with disabilities as an attack on us all the tactful language will take care of itself. In cutting disability benefits the Coalition is hurting us all. It’s that simple. Though the hurt will most severely and horrifically affect those who already have tough lives, we mustn’t kid ourselves that it is only their problem. There is one month to go in the consultations on the Disabled Living Allowance. The links below contain more information about this campaign and an easy way to get in touch with your MP. Spread the word. Show support. Get involved. Solidarity.
Originally posted at Mediocre Dave

 Originally posted as part of the One Month Before Heartbreak Campaign Jan, 2011

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