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I have a love of life. Some may call me a cynic but I'm truly an optimistic realist. I work on the philosophy “If you expect the worst but aim for the best, you'll land somewhere that's comfortable.”

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23 April 2017

Re-Thinking The Concept of Independence

I wrote a post previously (13th of May 2013) called Independence & Disability, I was going to edit it to make it more inclussive of all disabilities and not just blindness. However by the time I edited it, it included more about interdependency and how nobody is independent. I've kept the first few bits the same as the earlier concept, which still exists in its original form. My thinking was sparked by this blog post: Access Intimacy, Interdependence and Disability Justice.

Can disabled people be 100% independent? Simple answer, no. Nobody can or there would be no need for medics, pilots or engineers.

The dictionary defines independent as:

“1.Free from outside control; not depending on another's authority

More often than not, disabled folks need social welfare. This is provided by the government. They may need additional care (also controlled in the UK at least) by the state. 0-1 to me.

“2. Not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.

See above. 0-2 to me.

If we use Maslov's hierarchy of needs as a basis we'll soon see that:

1) Crips cannot be independent.

2) Nobody can be independent.

3) Humans are not designed to be independent.

Over to Abe...

Physical Needs:
All of our bodies need at least air, water and food.

Air I for one cannot produce clean air for myself let alone another person. I depend, as do we all, on others to be considerate in how much poluition they create and the steps they take to counter that. If you cut down trees, you've just screwed us all over not just the person with a respiratory problem. How the Welsh are still being effected by Chernobyl

Water Unless you have an off grid desalination plant, r you're happy to drink collected rain water. Chances are you rely on others to keep clean drinking water flowing into your chosen drinking vessel - which you probably bought – and for an example of people that are being harmed by the break down of interdependence there's the Flint water crisis.

Food It's unlikely that you grow your own food or in enough quantities to sustain yourself on. If you do, go you! If not, why aren't you being independent, is there a barrier(s) to you doing it? Anyone for a side of food fraud?

Safety Needs
Nobody should be unsafe, but where interdependence has broke down people are.

Personal Safety Unless you have a firearm in your possession, which makes you less safe, you are probably going to be dependent on others (the Police) to stop that creepy person along the street from murdering you and your family. You also probably entrusted the building and installing of your home security measures weather it's just a locks or a super locked down system. For a disabled person this might mean a person to stop them coming to additional harms that a abled person may not face. Such as managing their finances so their 'friends' don't steel it.Which has become such a problem it has it's own name "Mate Crime ".

Financial Security In most places in world we buy and sell things. From sex to million (Insert currency appropriate to you) Yachts. Neither of these things are necessities but as above air, water and food are. Being able to afford a home in an area with clean air is not a luxury that everyone can afford. It may be down to actual financial capital. It could also be because of their time capital, if they work long hours they might not have enough time to commute. Either way unless they want to starve they work to earn money. For a disabled person however, they are reliant (in most cases but not all) on social welfare as their primary income. For many this can vanish at the blink of an eye because an assessor of their claim form decides they don't meet the criteria to get that support. Everyone dreams of not having to work but at the same time in that dream, thee is also a high expectation of comfort. This level of comfort doesn't come on social welfare. It's a kind of job in its own right. Trying to balance finances with needs; quality with cost.

Health And Well-being I doubt many people could demonstrate the heroics of Leonid Rogozov. If you can, High Five to you! For the rest of us feeble humans we rely on people with skills to chop, sew, scan and diagnose our bodies and minds. Sometimes, probably more often for the general population, they get it right, right away. For those of us with more complicated health and well-being needs it may take many trips to the specialist medic, nurse, psychotherapist or physiotherapist to get – no better – but to a point where we aren't feeling like death is the next person to walk through the door, even if we feel it might be welcome.

I could go farther down the list but I think it's fairly clear that nobody is independent. I also think that you would be most disappointed if a farmer told you to go away and grow your own food and you're lazy for not doing so. It is a double bladed sword, you can either force people to do more than they are able to – weather they have a disability or other barriers (time, money or space etc) or, we all have to help each another.

We have lived in groups for millennia, not because we want to. Rather, we need to. It takes a special kind of person to be 100% self sufficient with no human contact at all. Can you imagine being in a place with nobody else' you have to do everything yourself; there's no radio or entertainment; you have no vehicle (you wouldn't need one)...? It sounds like hell right?

This is not to say everyone has a disabilty. But, most people take interdependence for granted to the point those that do have a disabilty are seen as a weak link in the interdependency chain. I'll leave you with the consideration: What if disabled people took all their spending power out of the economy? The British Government estimate businesses could be missing out on £212,000,000,000 through being inaccessable to disabled people. This is only the number that businesses could be missing out on - the actual power therefore must be higher…

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