Thursday, 13 September 2012

If the Paralympics changed our perceptions & language around disability, what will change our language and perception of the poor?

So we had the as a family the privilege of attending several sessions at the Olympics and several sessions at the Paralympics. Both were mind blowing and incredibly challenging for all sorts of different reasons. It is now well documented and commented on how the Paralympics  have changed and inspired people to consider their views on disability, understanding what is to be human and who we interact and treat one another disabled or not.

We should not patronise disabled people, and see them only as nice needy people, who will always need help.  The Paralympics have surely reminded us that to just view someone through the lens of their disability is to restrict your understanding of what an incredible human being that person is and their potential and what resource they are for the rest of humanity.

The week after we had been to the Paralympics I had the privilege of attending a significant event on Harold Hill(which for obvious reasons I'm not going to say what was).

The language and attitude of many ( including local political leaders) towards people from Harold Hill was in many ways I think similar to "pre Paralympic" ( very simplistic but you understand what i mean) Caring, compassionate, full of pity, but lacked a sense of Harold Hill people have value and can make healthy positive contributions now. It felt to me as if people were saying they need to been fixed with our methods and understanding of what it is to be human.  We need to rescue them and make them like us. ( again very much generalisation of the views, but still representative i think. )

Last weeks bible passage from James 2 surely reminds us that the poor are rich in faith and many other ways. I personally can say that i'm a better husband, dad and church leader because if what i've learnt from my friends on Harold Hill.

 I would also say if rescuing people means fully integrating them into a capitalist society then I'm not sure that is actually rescuing anyone.

The nameless event was not at a church, but i wonder how different the mainstream view of the poor really in within the church too, it is pre or post Paralympic ?

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