The day celebrated as Worker’s Day (May 1) in this part of the world is coming to an end already. I find that I am now rested as I took it easy today. I needed to rest and this week was more intense than usual and the next two days promise to be as intense as the last two. Thus, I am enjoying the free hours I have left. I admit that I don’t always rest when I should do and while many may go home and forget about their job, the nature of my work as a disabled activist who works to raise awareness and educate people about disability issues can never really stop - even when I’m home. You see, I can't just hang my impairments on the coat hangar!
While I realise that my work in research, writing and activism is part of what I do today, I have long ceased to define myself by what I do - in spite of the positive value this work has to me. Unfortunately, I tended to self-identify with my work because I knew that having a job as a disabled person in a society where employment has become so precious for the general population and still so difficult for disabled people, I cannot take my job for granted or treat it capriciously or carelessly.
On the other hand, today I believe that while my work is part of what I do it does[t define who I am as a person. After all, I am a human being - and contrary to popular misconceptions, work is not another thing to ‘occupy my time’ but, in many times, a responsibility that provides purpose in my life and, in practical terms, provides me with a degree of financial autonomy.
Indeed, it’s insulting when people seem to suggest that work is good for me because it provides me a kind of 'therapy' much better than sitting In front of the TV getting fat - a thing that I was never tempted in doing. Of course, I enjoy it when I work at the office and meet my work mates and new people. But the fact I have an impairment doesn’t mean that this is the be it and end all of my work at the office. I work to contribute to the betterment of society and, hopefully, to make the world more inclusive to people with impairments , like me, who have been excluded from work because work was designed to exclude them.
Here, I will not talk about the reasons why the very organisation of work before the rise of the information society has been oppressive to disabled people and other groups in society, such as women. Suffice it to say, there has been greater efforts to create more inclusive work places with provisions which I’m benefiting from myself such as tele-working, flexible working hours and accessibility in the workplaces. Granted, there’s still much to be done and many still find themselves excluded from the open labour market - despite the fact that with some support and adaptation, many more disabled people (for instance)could be included.
On the other hand, it would be wrong to assume that all disabled people can be easily included in the open labour market, if at all. However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot contribute in a way to their society and perform work that could help them become more financially independent, or equally important, have an opportunity to contribute to society and develop a sense of worth not because they work as such but because they feel they are of value to those around them.
Unfortunately, we continue to perceive work using the old paradigm. Indeed, I firmly believe that our definition of work continues to oppress and exclude people who are engaged in unconventional work that is not necessarily performed within the open labour market. Especially when such work doesn't result in a material product but can, all the same, positively contribute to the world and to society. Indeed, much of what we understand as work in our information society doesn't always result in a material or concrete object. Information, services and work related to human relations don't seem to fit in any of the old definition of work.
I am myself benefitting from the legacy of the information revolution if I may use that term. In fact, if it wasn't for the invention of the computer, the Internet and the assistive technology that I'm currently using, work or any means of social; engagement beyond face-to-face or via telephone would be impossible. Not only would I be limited in the work I could do but my social life would be indeed limited.
However, I cannot forget the many disabled people around the world who have no access to any technology or even the basic resources to enjoy a decent level of living. I find it that we who live in the minority world appear to conveniently think of these people as being 'less fortunate' instead of acknowledging that much of this povertyy is caused by injustice and by the exploitation of the minority world or the Western world of other nationss.
I end this entry as I'm getting tired and tomorrow promises to be another busy day. I wish that you had a good day and that anyone who has contributed to the improvement of the world - even if it goes unrecognised - I hope you persist in your work and containue changing the world for the better!