Monday, September 02, 2013

The U in Labour


In Canada we spell it with a 'u' and that seems entirely appropriate to me.

For me, having a disability means that living and working freely in the community is dependant upon the assistance of others. I NEED help. I NEED assistance. I wouldn't be able to leave my apartment if Joe weren't here to do some things for me. I wouldn't be able to get to work, make a contribution, be a taxpayer if it weren't for others doing what they do.

There are those who serve the community who receive a lot of, mostly deserved, attention and honour for doing so. Police. Firefighters. Doctors. Nurses. Those who serve individuals in that community get a lot less notice, a lot less pay, a lot less honour for the work that they do.

Right now across this city, and around the world, there are those who are working in living environments that allow people with intellectual disabilities to live well and safely. On a day where as many as possible are off to celebrate 'Labour with a u' Day, these folks have gotten up, gotten out and gotten to work. That the work is in someone else's home, helping someone else's life go on uninterrupted by holidays and celebrations is just part of the job, part of the expectation. It's not noticed. But it should be.

Right now in homes like mine. There are parents and partners who will be doing the work of family. It's a day off for others, but Joe will work today. He will do what he does every single day, there is no break from my need of his assistance, and he will do it, mostly as he's not superhuman, willingly. Labour Day or not, he's on the job. It's not noticed, but it should be.

But it's probably because you all do what you do so well that it's not noticed. Joe tries, even in public, to assist me in ways that don't call attention either to my need or to his assistance. The best of the staff that I know who work with people with disabilities make it look like it isn't work at all - which is extremely hard to do and takes an incredible amount of effort to pull off. The invisibility of the assistance, though, doesn't mean that it isn't happening.

(for those who use British spelling:)

There is an 'I' in Community because there's a 'U' in Labour.

(for those who spell it wrongly:)

If you look closely the 'U' in Community comes before the 'I'.



Kris S. said...

Well put. You are a fortunate man, as is the lovely and talented Joe Jobes.

CL said...

Great work -- there should be more respect for this type of work. Joe sounds like a wonderful partner.

But as much as you need assistance, I am sure that Joe needs you too -- for love, support, and for all of your knowledge and talents that benefit both of you. We all depend on others, just in different ways.

CapriUni said...

For those of us who spell it wrong, you could also say "There'd be no 'Community' without U n' I Together."

Anonymous said...

Love that comment about having a "U" in labour. I'll never think of it the same way. Thanx!

Anonymous said...

I saw a good quote recently that said 'when I becomes We even illness becomes wellness'.

Everybody is dependant on others so they can go about their daily lives,on bus drivers,rubbish collectors,employers,shopkeepers,road builders,electricity companys etc but disabled people are dependant on all of those same things PLUS needing help with stuff the majority take for granted. And its fundamentally different than other people 'needing' us because of all the value judgements attached to disability dependance. Because oddly its only when people need this visible help,from humans with faces,that we're made to feel we should be overgrateful and eternally appreciative and realise our less than,dependant status. No one expects people to be grateful to the shopkeeper for allowing them access to groceries of their choice,instead we get naggy if that 'entitlement' is threatened at all,like if the shops out of something or closed. Maybe everyone should realise how utterly dependant we all are on each other and that assisting a disabled person is no different or less than the life assistance everyone unthinkingly gets every day.