The maturity of the people in the Disability Communities around the world surpasses that of the leadership present in many representatives of America. Many people around the world today, both with and without forms of disabilities, are highly-aware of the need to develop caring communities, leadership, information sources, and far more that are inclusive of everyone – including People with Disabilities and Veterans with Disabilities. As we witness the growth of the populations of people who understand the need for this kind of development, we may also witness the struggles of those who do not.
People with Disabilities, to include Veterans with Disabilities, need to be included in the affairs of America on every level. It does not matter what the activity involves, if the activity involves something that affects our society at large in any way – we must be included. Why? A lack of representation of our population means just that, and is unacceptable in a society that supposedly is built upon the notion of equal participation and representation.
The population of People with Disabilities in this nation comprises America’s largest minority, yet we are not represented by equal numbers of public servants in office. Party politics aside, and with understanding of the reasons why, it was with great dismay that some in America witnessed Gabby Giffords stepping down. We need representatives who know what it means to experience a form of disability.
Fear of endless back-biting, vicious and truly ugly attacks keeps many people who experience forms of disabilities, to include veterans with disabilities, from attempting to serve in public office. The mood in America has become increasingly ugly, to the point where one has to wonder if people have forgotten what it means to be nice to one-another.
Yet the need for input from America’s largest minority population has not simply disappeared. During what may be one of the most important election years in many people’s lives, we are faced with many of the able-bodied members of the, ‘same old crew,’ as well as able-bodied members of society who are campaigning for office. As a person with disabilities and/or a veteran with disabilities, it is exceptionally difficult to feel strong support for such public servants, or those running for office. Identifying with them is made far more difficult by the understanding that these public servants have little-to-no understanding of the issues we face.
The year 2012 found another nation ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – yet was it the United States of America, which so loudly proclaimed it had signed this vital document? No; Mozambique is ahead of the United States of America in their regard for us.
Instead, America is reaching for reasons to start new, ‘military conflicts,’ or wars with Syria and Iran. America, instead of whole-heartedly pursuing the rights and inclusion of its largest minority population, is busily pursuing an election season 8 months before the election itself will even take place, devoid of people with disabilities from all appearances. Instead, this nation is concentrating on anything and everything but the largest minority population within its own borders.
Never think for a moment that the main media sources in America have a second to spare for People with Disabilities – we are apparently, ‘persona non grata,’ as far as they are concerned. The medical model of disability continues to reign in the media’s eyes. We are, ‘diagnosis,’ and anything but people with our own voices to the media for the most part.
While this nation deals with some of the toughest rates of unemployment in memory, People with Disabilities and Veterans have largely been thrown aside. The current administration has presented programs for veterans, something that is greatly appreciated, but it clearly hasn’t been enough. The newest homeless population in America is women veterans, something attributable to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The suicide rate among veterans is atrocious.
People with Disabilities, as has always been the case in America, continue to experience the highest rate of unemployment. Unemployment is as much a part of Disability History in America as the items to be found on Disability history websites. You won’t find the leaders of this nation waving that particular banner, however.
The required political statement of course, is that we know which side of the bread is buttered. However, feeling solid support requires inclusion of the population of which we are a part, in equivalent numbers to the numbers of our population – something that is clearly not happening. The, ‘choice between evils,’ notion is pointless; this is honesty.
Where the media is concerned, why bother paying attention to anything more than the headlines anymore? A 30 second review of a single news media website will tell you everything about every other news media website; they all publish about the same things. The vast and overwhelming majority of items on main news media sites do not involve you as a person with disabilities or a veteran. The wheelchair user who is a major morning or evening news show anchor is non-existent, from all appearances. Even if such a news anchor existed, they would most likely find themselves reporting about anything but their own population most of the time.
We are on the leading edge of times involving the potential for incredible changes in the perceptions related to People with Disabilities. It is important to continue working towards a day when the world as a whole understands and respects the views of the one-billion people who experience a form of disability in the world today. It is important to work with people who understand this vision; whether they experience a form of disability or not.
The majority of the politicians in office in America have no concept of what it means to experience a form of disability and are therefore largely irrelevant, with the exception of specific items of legislation. The main media news sites in America are so overwhelmingly irrelevant as to be equated with gossip columns. While politicians and main news media may provide comic relief, we know where our hearts are; we know where our efforts must be focused.
Already in 2012, we have seen the 110th ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities--please join us in congratulating the disability community in Mozambique!
- Further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and mainstreaming disability in the development agenda (PDF)
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