Is war coming?
What does it mean for disability?
Across the world our growing interconnected technology and media has reported the developments of the covid pandemic to our homes weather or not we were directly effected by the loss of someone close to us.
In its wake is the statistic that 6/10 people who died were disabled.
It seems strange that we didn’t stop air travel when we eventually went into lockdown. The fact that we had left it so long to put in basic infection control measures like mask wearing and despite evidence such as operation cygness that the government and nhs knew there may be a pandemic but hadn’t tried to plan or prepare seemed incredible.
Some things are only visible with the benefit of distance from the event. There was much criticism of the inaction that was displayed by our government at the time when other countries clearly recognised a state of emergency and lockdown were required to stop the spread, and deaths due to the virus.
But what does it really mean, what was this saying about our society?
Speaking as a disabled person, being left behind is something that I, we disabled people have gotten used to.
The austerity measures of the last 10-15 years have taken a hefty toll on the disabled in the U.K. whilst globally our country is supposed to be ahead, there has been a gradual eroding of support, rights, benefits and attitudes towards disabled persons.
There has always been a small section of the population that has no comprehension of disability. Just as there is a proportion of the wealthy who believe that people are poor because they don’t work hard. Ignorance is the root of so many problems when the attitudes are held by people with no direct experience of the problems, or no ability to empathise with those in different situations.
So many disabled people died during the pandemic that to someone like myself, it looked like more than just careless pandemic management.
So little value is attached to the life of someone with a disability, wouldn’t it be great if all the disabled and sick people disappeared, because this will make the problems of social care, health care and spending money on keeping us alive, go away.
Honestly that is what it feels like when your going to your umpteenth disability benefit assessment.
It’s like we, disabled people contribute nothing to society and won’t it just help the planet and the treasury if we all disappear. Clear some space for the ecological disaster that looms nearer every day that we don’t take action to live more sustainable lives and in harmony with our planet?
After all less sick people means more resources for everyone else right?
Only, the pandemic has highlighted the problems with the Hurd immunity mentality.
Despite 6/10 people who died being disabled, there are now at least 2 million more people in the U.K. suffering from long covid.
A whole new disability!
How long is long covid? How long is a piece of string?
Collectively the media has begun to drag disability to the forefront, with articles about transport problems,the cost of living, health and social care making the headlines more frequently.
The reality is that these problems are as much about poverty as health. Increasingly the link between the two is highlighted. Without food or shelter how can we have any quality of life leave alone good health?
The reality of disability is that it doesn’t go away and it isn’t going away. Health and disease is like death and taxes.
But here we get to what I want to say about war.
The war in Ukraine has created a heightened sense of vulnerability in many people. The media coverage has been none stop. Globally politics has gone into overdrive.
Who is benefiting from the war? Arms dealers? Is it about controlling people through fear? Fear of high fuel and food prices? It’s hard to say we are fed so much information it’s hard to know what is going on, especially as we aren’t really meant to.
But in the context of disability if there was a war now, what would it mean for disabled people?
In my opinion it would generate a whole new wave of disability just like the pandemic generated long covid.
The military industrial complex is generating money for someone somewhere. But the reality of war is that it generates death, trauma, disability, sickness and ultimately more war as the people who loose their loved ones take revenge against those who have wronged them.
I used to care for veterans of the Second World War. The physical scars they carried were not as deep as the trauma that they endured. Lucky to have survived at all, most felt that the ‘real’ hero’s had died fighting for their country. Survival meant that you were a changed man.
As a society we bear the scars of the first and second world wars. They have formed the architecture of the world we live in today. Generations of behaviour and emotions have rippled from these disasters.
Now we have the potential for more global trauma.
It makes me sad, because these events may generate money for the pharmaceutical industry and arms industry. They may help to control populations through fear and death. But they are not resolving the climate crisis and for all the eugenicists out there, these events are only perpetuating sickness and disability. If anything it highlights the link between capitalism and slavery.
It is positive to see that the media has begun to change the narrative about disability and we are beginning to see that being disabled is not just about being a superhuman Olympic athlete. The reality is that we all have strengths and weaknesses regardless of our health.
Hopefully this will lead to real change, that includes the disabled as well as other marginalised groups that historically have been ‘left behind’.