Somewhere towards the bottom of the comments section of this post about UK Disability Benefit Cuts is a rather haughty and judgmental comment by "Gera Rhiannon" who, shockingly, is a support worker at a Mental Health Drop In Centre.
I've been discussing Gera's comment on facebook. In the words of one commenter:
"This is worrying... Her clients are among the most severely mentally ill people in South and West Cardiff yet here she appears to be accusing them (and the rest of us who make a scene about disability) of being self centred".
Indeed, I read the subtext of Gera's comment as being something like:
"If You Disabled, particularly the singletons among you want to know what it's REALLY like to struggle, try walking in the shoes of me and my daughter. We don't have the privilege of receiving DLA, and we ACTUALLY WORK for a living; yet we are financially worse off than you! So if You Disabled want the support of the wider community (ie, Us Non-Disabled) COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND THINK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE (ie, Us Non-Disabled) INSTEAD OF BEING SO NARCISSISTIC AND SELF-CENTRED!!!"
I also find the ableism implicit in her comment extremely offensive... It would seem, according to Gera, that there are only two kinds of people; "Disabled" and "Non-Disabled"; an example of the old "Us versus Them" Dichotomy. Which shows, obviously, that she sees disabled people as "Other". Therefore, disability rights activists are not helping POTENTIALLY EVERYBODY; ie, one could be forgiven for thinking that evidently Gera does not grasp the fact that disability is something that can happen to anybody at any time, that it's an issue that each and every one of us will have to face, if not now then at some point in the future. And that hopefully therefore, ULTIMATELY EVERYBODY will, in the long run, benefit from the efforts of those of us who are striving to fight back against the UK Coalition's victimisation of disabled people. Needless to say it's exactly this mindset which is enabling Cameron and his henchmen to have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about what they are doing to disabled people (and other disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community) and enabling them to do so with impunity.
Finally, in the words of a member of facebook's "Bedroom Tax and Disabled" group:
"An incredibly ill thought out opinion on those who can't choose to get up and get a job, move house and lead active lives with their children. And, even if this person was correct, that disability groups are "self focused", perhaps that is because we need to be? It's not like the general public have stepped out in their droves to show support against The Coalition's agenda against the disabled. These groups, in some cases, need to be self focused or otherwise get lost among all those that listen to this Government and agree with their draconian methods to cleanse society of the sick and the poor! If she is 100% able bodied, then perhaps she could stop spouting rubbish and start focusing on ALL of those that need help, be it a disabled person, a poor person, somebody ready to lose their employment or whatever hardship is being caused by this austerity drive. No one asks to be incapable of living the so-called "normal life". If my life was "normal" then I'd have a job or at least the ability to look for work should I find I'm in a situation that may lead to unemployment. To have any of those life altering options would be a blessing in it's own right! I'm sorry to hear that her and her daughter are facing unemployment, but instead of being angry with disabled people perhaps starting her own group to provide support would be a good thing in helping people in her predicament. Am sure this is a woman that's kicking out at life as clearly she is being dealt some tough blows, but that is the point - we are ALL in that boat in one way or another. Sorry about the rant. Am just a little fed up with people taking shots at disabled people. We have to try and shout the loudest, as this Government is trying to drive a wedge between us and the rest of society. So, if we are at times "self focused" then so be it. I bet, however, that we would welcome anyone to this group with offers of help regardless of how able they are. A human in need is a human in need".
Postscript: Here's a similar comment by Gera on the IndyMedia UK post "Disabled Man Takes Hunger Strike To Atos"