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steps to a community | The view from down here

steps to a community

Faith is belief in things we can not see. Indeed. It is also I think a belief in things we have seen, remotely in other places or historically in my own life but can’t find currently.

This includes closer inspection of overseas models of disability. I wonder if people living with a disability here in Australia and perhaps elsewhere have had a mixed blessing in our “early adoption” of the social model of disability stuff. I wonder if, by watching our friends and colleagues in other countries and “getting” their learnings relatively easily, we have in fact had something of a double edged sword handed to us

I am only just starting to get my thinking lined up on this again, but for anyone’s interest here’s what I have so far.

It feels and looks to me that we have missed out on some of the community building/political advocacy/mainstreamesque protest movement stuff. Please please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying that we in Australia don’t have advocacy movements. We do. They are very committed and many are good at fighting for the rights of their group. What I fear is that the conversations didn’t start far enough back in our own journeys. We jumped (or wobbled, poked or whatever) our way straight past our own stories and finding friendship and companionship with each other at a very deep and personal level to “fighting for our rights” which is great, but perhaps a little premature. The image that just landed for me of a builder putting up walls before pouring the foundation for the footings to sit in. We forgot the personal in the political.

Before we go fighting for the rest of society to see disability as being a societal construct, maybe we need to really be good with talking about what it is in our daily lives and what it really is with us, and within us; firstly with each other and find some form of respite in the common-ness in our humanity at the very least if not also the experiences of living with these types of physical and social exclusions, and their management; regardless of how they physically manifest in our lives.

Disability regardless of the labels or the physicality is a solo sport. It doesn’t really even matter what labels we have and how similar or not my label or it’s “outputs” appear to be to yours or how much I can learn from you. That comradeship can, does and has helped. But like writers end up ultimately being alone with the blank page in front of them, our own “systems” are very much our own, based on circumstances that are entirely our own.

With all that said bottom of the barrel life experiences are the ones I’ve seen other minorities start with. However exposed we might end up feeling. We must talk to ourselves first of the struggles. We must self identify if only to ourselves.Not just to have our rights acknowledged and get the right carer or transport. But first the struggle that we all face to rolll over in the morning and wonder how long before we trip over our own impairment today, to deal with the physical unknown of spasm or pain or medication or whatever. The pain of the mental gymnastics. Of the daily meeting with the strangers; inside and outside our skin.

As painful as that will be we must start there with ourselves and then we will have choice of reaction. Then we can find the courage to build a community around each of us and there we will find true friends to have common ground with; level that ground and pour the foundations and find a voice in our commoness to build the walls and start the next part of the fight.

But first things I’m afraid must come first.

Perhaps for me the most valuable thing that will come out of the development of the National Disability Insurence Scheme won’t in the final analysis be the streamlining, or the dollars and sense or even the recognition. All these are indeed key and great and important, The thing that I think will in the long term be so much valuable is that fact that we have proven ourselves capable of being a solid cross impairement community who were prepared to talk, personally and then collectively. It brought us together and then we added the communal allies. It was only a part of the picture, but it was a part.

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