Some issues can’t be swept under the carpet, they can’t be consciously disregarded, and it will be testament to your values and character as to where, and for whom, you pitch your battles.
Take a look at this image, two things are occurring:
First, Kathrine Switzer is challenging the status quo, challenging the decision that women cannot run marathons by actually running in a marathon. Secondly, there are others willing to support her. They are not other women, they are men, who are not directly facing the same pitched battle of gender discrimination that Kathrine is battling. Had no one stood up for Kathrine Switzer, would she have been yanked off the course? Would this story be known? Would the women’s marathon have finally been accepted into the Olympics? Would the 261 Fearless campaign have ever existed to support other women into running?
Can the impact of your willingness to support and defend others who are facing a discrimination, prejudice, social belittling, that does not directly affect you, be measured?
When the government proposed changes to the rulings of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) rulings, I can honestly say I saw my bum.
Here you can read a reaction from Mind on the proposed changes to personal independence payments.
This one I still battle: the way we treat others at the bottom of the ladder. Not because I receive any support from this government whatsoever, they’ve already made it clear that my being unfunctionable for almost 5 months of every year does not classify me as in need of support in any way. When I say they make it clear, let me explain.
Almost two years ago when this situation came up that I should apply for support, to help lift the pressure off my partner of now becoming an additional dependent (like a child), the very idea of being interrogated in order to show someone—who had no compassion for my existence—that I am worthy of support, was akin to being served a life sentence of shame, rejection and unworthiness. The result being I could not expect to see it through, because I knew I would not be able to leave my house to do so. The anxiety, the paranoia, was a prison sentence.
If it wasn’t for the the fact that I have a very hard-working partner who is skilled with thrift and logical reasoning, as well as caring and compassionate children who have been able to support me when he cannot, it is not too far-fetched to see that in other circumstances—such as others not fortunate to have my Tom—I may well have become homeless, on the streets, consigned to the ditches and the darkness of your peripheral vision.
I cannot see how I would not end up on the streets, I am a pariah. Once you become part of that homeless society, the world shrinks away from seeing you. Councils, agencies, the government, all set about to highlight you as a problem, a blight on the civilised lives that others want to live. You can no longer vote to fight these injustices, because you have no registered address. That isn’t an exaggeration of any kind, it’s a brutal reality of how close we can all be to becoming invisible, and what to expect if you do.
Keeping up with the current affairs in this household takes on a few simple forms: no newspapers are involved, partly in a bid to reduce paper waste; BBC Radio 4 or Radio 2 is the morning alarm, so, oftentimes, the first I get to hear of any developments come directly from the low frequency tones each morning; Twitter, I admit, is predominantly the most informative news outlet in my environment for diverse content, not by directly engaging with the online newspaper outlets, but by learning through someone else, via someone else’s blog, via someone else’s account, of what’s occurring.
You could almost say that it’s the old fashioned way of sharing current affairs, social and community issues, by one person telling the next, and the next, and so forth. For others, the fact that it’s information gathering via social media will probably discount it as a genuine outlet of worthy information. I disagree.
Whether I’d heard about the underhand proposals to change Personal Independent Payments to some of our most vulnerable in society via television, radio, paper or internet, is actually irrelevent. The information put out was still the same story from whichever angle I picked it up. And as upsetting.
My reaction, in any event, would still have been that of disgust, betrayal, not shocked at all, though, because I’ve learnt that this is the true face of our government. But, shocked at the timing—bringing this legislation into existence just a short while after Mental Health Awarenesss Week really does feel like a sucker punch to the face. It’s a stark reminder that one week of campaigning is not enough to change the tide.
The current Prime Minister was already directly involved in my decision to resign from my policing career. Her zero policing experience and belligerent contempt for police officers wanting to simply do their job and get home safe so that they can see their families, culminating in her decision to sanction officers and make the working place harder than it was already to manage, brought me towards a debilitating breakdown, and a quest to end my life.
To see her now as Prime Minister feels like your abuser being welcomed into the family as your step-mother, more controlling over more aspects of your life, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her because nobody else sees her for what she is.
This is an important battle to fight. You cannot say you have done all you can for your society, for your country, if you allow the most vulnerable to be abused before you. The PIP system is already set up to discriminate. Tell me one Support Worker, GP, Psychiatrist, Pshychologist who would disagree that you are already facing a gigantic uphill battle to receive support for the darkest hours of your life, simply because it is invisible to someone else’s eyes. Although, if they wanted to look closer, they would see the anguish, the hell, the struggle, if they actually looked into your soul and not at you as a number on a statistics sheet.
Despite these recent developments, I still feel that there is an undeniably strong wave of compassion and support for the indignity that most people face in this situation, and that this will change things for the better, though I do not believe that this government will be around to see it. It will change things because we are teaching our children about mental health, about mental illnesses, about the importance of looking after your mind in tandem with your body. That a mental illness is not a weakness, it is a testament of absolute strength to battle the demons in your head and to function socially, when others may only experience such wars on the big screen.
This will change, because I know that I am not the only one in the gene pool with the fire of enthiusiasm, social justice and determination in my belly to see that the value of human life is considered above all things business and profit and spreadsheets and bonuses. And that’s before I’ve even started on the environment and the current global climate condition…but that’s another blog for another day.