Don’t write off the disabled or elderly
Can you remember a time when you felt invisible? When, maybe, you were suffering, but no-one seemed to notice?
When you might as well have just dug a hole and buried yourself, for all anyone seemed to care?
Worse, have you ever felt a burden on others?
I recently attended a conference run by the Disabled Persons’ Assembly and was made acutely aware of the sometimes painful attitude society seems to have towards anyone who is different, especially if there is some kind of physical manifestation of difference.
The reaction of people varies. There is the over-protectiveness and wanting to do everything for the disabled person so the ‘‘different’’ person does not have to be acknowledged.
Then there are people who seem to equate a physical disability with mental deficiency – they have never heard of Stephen Hawking maybe?
Much of this attitude stems from ignorance and from a feeling of helplessness in the face of an obviously incurable condition.
As an elderly person myself, I can appreciate how much of this situation relates to the elderly as well.
As we grow older, we often require more help to get around or to live an ordinary life.
We have the added problem that we are considered by some as past our use-by date and therefore no longer of any relevance in society.
But, whether we are disabled or merely elderly, we have a positive contribution to make to society, if only society would see it.
Pope Francis, in a recent audience, said: ‘‘We live longer thanks to medical advances, and the number of elderly has multiplied, but our societies are not organised enough to make room for them, with proper respect and concrete consideration for their fragility and their dignity.’’
In our view, he has hit the nail right on the head.
He added: ‘‘As long as we are young, we are led to ignore old age, as if it were a disease to be taken away. Then when we become older, especially if we are poor sick and alone, we experience the shortcomings of a society planned on efficiency, which consequently ignores the elderly.’’
To say nothing of the disabled, I might add.
Do our own cities (remembering that our members reside in neighbouring municipalities) make sufficient room for the elderly and the disabled?
Or are we so fixated on economic growth and intercity rivalry that the less physically and mentally able fall off the perch, as it were, and lie on the ground, unseen and unheard?
I would be interested in your opinions.
To Pope Francis, again, goes a final warning word on this topic: ‘‘Where there is no honour for the elderly, there is no future for young people.’’
Last month, I endeavoured to give our members a rundown on Grey Power, where it came from, how it has changed, and what we are trying to achieve for them and all elderly now.
This month, given the closeness of Anzac Day following our annual meeting, we are to have a commemoration of all those people who have given their lives in defence of freedom and democracy in our name.
We would live you to join us, particularly if you count relatives or friends among their number.