Monday, April 27, 2015

Protecting The Vulnerable

Photo Description: Road sign reading 'Vulnerability Just Ahead'
... protecting the vulnerable.

I heard someone say that yesterday when they were talking about physician assisted suicide, they were saying that there needed to be a balance such that the rights of those who are at the end of their life, in pain and who want to end their suffering and the rights and concerns of those who want legislation at is aimed at protecting the vulnerable are equally respected.

... the vulnerable.

Who are 'the vulnerable?'

Well, even though I don't exactly know who 'the vulnerable' are, I do know that the responsibility for the wish to kill them has been shifted to them. It's something about them - the vulnerable, that makes murder a really easy choice. Vulnerability has been made part of their DNA. Vulnerability has been to be determined as a permanent state of being.

We never talk of those who are vulnerable to murderous urges on sight of someone with a disability.

We never talk of those who are vulnerable to bigoted responses to reasonable requests to accommodations.

We never talk of the vulnerability of the powerful to misuse of power.

No.

We make the victim, vulnerable.

We keep the victim vulnerable.

Those who are vulnerable to sexual abuse not because of disability but because the powerful deny them the power of education, the strength of vocabulary.

Those who are vulnerable to bullying and teasing not because of disability but because the powerful decide that the bullying of the different is a normal response, it's what the normal do ... inaction of the powerful is approval to the violent.

Those who are vulnerable to lives of poverty and economic powerlessness not because of disability but because social and physical structures set up barrier after barrier after barrier such that work and workplaces are inaccessible in every way possible.

But the vulnerability is, to them, all ours.

We, the disabled are made to carry the burden of the neglect and the abuse and the violent whims of the 'they.'  We are vulnerable after all. 'They' tell us all the time. 'They' tell us at the same time as they say they want to 'protect us.'

Who are 'they?' And what do 'they' want to protect us from?

They are the ones who live in fear that we, the vulnerable, will one day find voice and power.

They are the ones who made us 'them' and will do anything they can to deny us access to education, employment and social justice.

They are the one's who see murder as a solution.

We do need protection.

But not theirs.

Our own words, our own voice, our own strength.

Our own.

Because how can 'they' protect us ...

When they see murder as the fix.

And elimination as the cure.

Their vulnerability to the ways of power and privilege is, I fear, terminal. 

5 comments:

Colleen said...

Very powerful. Much to think about in this post.

Makes me think of Paulo Friere - you cannot liberate the oppressed without also liberating the oppressor. I guess that is the thing - no one likes to admit that they are the oppressor so they blame the people who are oppressed for their own oppression. That way I, the oppressor, don't have to do anything about it.

Ron Arnold said...

I do believe that those in power have allocated power for themselves for a number of reasons. Some 'benevolent' - some not so. Quite frankly - there's no tyranny quite so insidious as benevolent tyranny. At least with power hungry despots, there's truth in advertising.

Over and over again I see an underlying operating assumption in government (control) machinations. It is that people are incompetent and / or not to be trusted.

Where that operating assumption exists, there will be oppression of some sort.

I'm trying to point that out in as many media outlets (mostly social media) as I can. I think the operating paradigm is the root of the problem.

Ak Rhodes said...

Nicely put. Very clear, and it says what I have been thinking about this issue for a while. It always gets me going that someone starts out with "Would YOU want to be..." in these debates...I have a choice, someone who is disabled generally is not given a choice...so that question is wrong on the face of it...
Thank you!

Diane Coleman said...

You have brilliantly articulated an important aspect of
the discomfort that I always feel about the use of the word "vulnerable" in the discussion of the dangers of assisted suicide. I try to avoid it in my writing, but it's so prevalent in general. I'm going to share your post with some of our allies on this issue. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Well said. As a disabled person my life does feel controlled by "them". I have felt first hand dismissed, diminished, and disinherited by "them". Vulnerable for sure. No choice to be so, no choice to not be. Thanks for saying it in a way I can't.