Signal Boosting an Excellent Article on Welfare Reform: “The Square Root of Nothing”

29 01 2012

http://lartsocial.org/benefitcap

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On Guilt and Surviving

18 01 2012

This post is for all those disabled people who feel guilty for not ‘doing enough’, even when they’re scraping by on benefits/unofficial support networks, and often living on the edge of financial, physical and psychological ruin on a regular basis.

You don’t owe anyone your life. That doesn’t just mean a plate of bread and a glass of water, that means the things you need to get by. The things that aid you in ways that others may not comprehend. The time you spend with friends. The money you spend making your life bearable. The treats you cherish because they make wading through the daily shitpile worth it for a little while longer.

I know how much it hurts when you see others throwing so much into fights that you know to be vital. The self-hatred that comes creeping round when a dozen threats are looming over you and those you care about, and you can’t be there to raise your voice with the rest. The feelings of inferiority that comes when others are ennobled for giving the energy you never had. What I’m trying to say is that that guilt is misplaced. You are not lazy for not burning yourself out on the bonfire of activism. You are not greedy for spending money making your life bearable, or even enjoyable. You are not less for not being dealt a hand full of aces. And you are not guilty for not giving what you need to The Cause.

This part is just as important to remember. By doing all those things, by surviving, you are fighting, too. It would make it so much easier for those in power if the disabled did not exist, or just curled up and died. By resisting that, by living, you are fighting them. It may be a way so small as to seem insignificant, but it still matters. You are another cripple on the street. You are another disabled person on their registers. You are another stain in their pristine uniformity that won’t come out no matter how hard they try and wash you away. You exist, and thus you contribute to that same fight. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If all of this sounds like excuses for not being brave, for not being noble or just or great, then consider the noise in the background. We live in a society where we are constantly barraged by the idea that everyone has the same chance, that everyone can do whatever they want with some elbow-grease and some goddamned bootstraps. This is a lie. Meritocracy and all it’s rhetoric comes apart at the seams if you look hard enough, and while it may be ubiquituous in it’s broadcast, that doesn’t make it right. Great people were more often than not dealt great hands at the start, and they always had ones that they could build up with. If you find you can only scrape by with your own, that doesn’t make you a lesser person.