I’m sorry if I neglected to update this blog for some time. The truth is that I am currently doing much of my blog writing on my other blogs. And, besides a number of things that are happening in my life, there’s of course that four-letter word: work.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to work. It gives me a degree of financial independence and sense of dignity. And, in case any of my employers are reading this entry, thank you very much… But, enough of that. As I’m enjoying this pleasant day, I thought to type a few thoughts about work. More specifically, I’ve asked myself whether there’s a contradiction that today disabled people, like myself, are working.
Yet, even if it’s true that I’m currently employed, the fact is with the economic recession still affecting the job market, having a job isn’t always guarantee. In fact, with the employment rate falling across the globe, work is becoming more precious. And there’s when I start to reflect and find, at the end, that there;s a sense of fear. A fear that there’ll come one day when we return to a society where only a select few are deemed entitled to work.
And I know that I shudder when I think whom society might choose to form part of this elite group. I fear that we might return to a time when our decisions are based on prejudice rather than reasoned argument. Let us not forget that women, for instance, have for much time since the industrial revolution been excluded from many occupations for the simple fact that they were female and deemed incapable of doing nothing more than care, teach, nurture or be mothers.
However, different factors have been instrumental in excluding people like me, who have impairments but, indeed, have been denied access to work because the very structure and organisation of the work place only accommodate a a subjective ‘norm’ of physical, sensory, psychological and intellectual abilities. One can’t deny that work itself, with its emphasis on productivity and efficiency, has to remain - to an extent exclusive. However, back then we were never given a chance to prove ourselves as the very nature of work was designed without us in mind.
Then, there is that demon of xenophobia which manifests in nationalism, racism, and any form of human living that fails to conform with the accepted social norm or national/religious/cultural identity. Difference becomes a threat. First, by becoming simply a threat to our jobs and our livelihood and then becoming a threat to our whole nation. Unfortunately, fear of strangers becomes imbued with hate, intolerance and injustice leading, of course, to violence.
Yes, I am employed. I have gained a degree of independence and find a sense of worth in my life. Yet, a looming global recession keeps gnawing at the job market leading to more people finding they have no jobs. And, in a sense, as we tend to wrongly define in terms of work, some end up without a purpose to live. And, they commit suicide. And, then, how can I guarantee that my work will be secure in the coming years?
When they are saying that people who are black and who may be coming from other cultural backgrounds should be returned back and should certainly as some have put it ‘take away our jobs’?
When some employers still perceive people like me as a burden that they are only being forced to bear?
When some have become so convinced they’re the only ones entitled to work that they’re ready to do anything to eradicate difference?
When we don’t appear to find more humane solutions to the plight of refugees and persist in confining them to detention centres which are not that different than concentration camps?
When disabled people across Europe are still being institutionalised and forgotten from the rest of society?
These are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves today. We cannot risk to a society which denies the possibility our differences can offer. We must make the best use of our human potential in all its diversity.