18 November 2015

Today I sparked a debate!

Today I sparked a debate and bycrikey it feels good! Why am I so overjoyed at having virtually kicked the hornets nest and awoken the sleeping beast with a topic which has resulted in people slinging opinions at one another...well because the topic of discussion just so happens to be surrounding invisible illnesses and disability. Don't worry, I don't believe that I offended anyone so people weren't running after me with pitchforks (not as of yet anyhow). So what on earth is going on?!

After a bit of a break in my blogging routine as I found myself busy raising awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease through other means I finally found the time to return to this here very blog to write down what was on my mind. The blog post that I wrote was somewhat in-keeping with Invisible Illness Awareness Week which takes place between September 28th - October 4th (For more info see; http://invisibleillnessweek.com) Why is it so important that people partake in awareness days/ weeks/ months I hear you ask. Simply put...because from day to day many topics such as invisible illness simply slip under the radar. One lone voice can make a huge difference believe me I have seen this happen many times over but collectively we can shout from the rooftops to spark debate or change the way people view one another by simply share a piece of knowledge with the world.

The post which sparked the initial debate was this one; 'I have disability; there, I said it!' I was unsure about covering such an emotive topic for fear of accidentally saying the wrong thing and offending someone. However after running the post past a select few friends who I knew would be brutally honest with their feedback and with much trepidation I hit the publish button.Crumbs!

What reaction did I get now that my views were out there floating around the mysterious land of social media? Well in all honestly exactly the reaction that I was expecting. No; luckily I did not end up offending anyone but my post did for the most part get overlooked amongst the general humdrum of everyday life. Why might this be I wonder, my best guess is because people within my online IBD community are uncomfortable with the idea of being seen to have a disability (no thanks to the attitudes of others). For some accepting that you have a disability is like saying that you're somewhat a failiour or have something lacking.... which couldn't be any further from the truth. In reality people who have tackled hard times (whether that be through chronic illness or not) bring new characteristics to the table. Individuals who have faced hard/ challenging times in life bring to the table diversity; it is this diversity in life that keeps the world spinning, it is what attracts new ideas. So if you're one of these such people who thinks that due to having a chronic illness that you're at a disadvantage...please think again!

Hold up, I thought you said that your post sparked a debate; how can this be if people overlooked it?!
Not one for admitting defeat (yes you can blame my chronic illness for my gutsy gung-ho attitude) I set about finding somewhere to post my rambling thoughts. I decided to post my blog piece where I knew there would be a collective gathering of bright minds; somewhere that people wouldn't be reserved in having an opinion...I happened to throw my post in with a bunch of philosophical minds.Was that a good move? err..

For the most part yes; doing so was a good move; it most certainly sparked a debate! I was surprised to see so many compassionate comments from individuals who could relate to the topic through their own experiences with chronic illness; which of course comes in many different forms. I heard from a whole host of individuals for example I received a lovely comment from a lady who has a form of dwarfism, a fellow Ulcerative Colitis fighter, a lady who is tackling leukemia and a family member of someone who had sustained a brain injury. All of the above could relate to my post and find comfort in knowing that someone else was facing the same barriers as themselves; that being society's attitudes towards them.

Where did it all go pete-tong (wrong)? Well as suspected the uneducated members of society decided to pitch in with their controversial opinions and the debate drifted off to a slightly different topic. 'Would you employ an individual who has a disability?'. The range of comments were quite broad they ranged from someone saying that they would not employ a person with a disability if it meant that they were a liability or would do a disservice to the workforce around them *stifles a chuckle* what nonsense! There too were comments such as ..
'If you want charity, then there are plenty of charitable organizations out there willing to offer assistance but a business is not a charity. I am not going to hire a brain damaged person for the same reason that a professional football team is not going to hire a man with no legs'. (Yes that is a genuine comment) or 'I shouldn't have opened my business to profit. I should have opened it to employ the disabled.' to kinder views such as 'Why do you assume that the disabled person is not the best candidate for the job? If he/she is more skilled than the others, my assumption is that he would or could be a better asset moving forward. The laziest folks I have ever hied are typically able bodied, from good homes and have their parents bank accounts to fall back on if things don't work out.'
To reiterate a comment made in my previous blog post 'The largest barrier for people deemed to have a disability is society's attitudes towards them'. Individuals who are deemed to have a disability are also passionate, driven, loyal, hard working and hate having to take a 'sick day' *sniffle*. 

I understand that we live in a fast paced society where at times it's dog eat dog but we too live in a world which is filled with compassionate people who will go out of their way to help someone less fortunate than themselves. The discussion descended into 'who could shout the loudest' with some hot headed opinions being thrown in for good measure. Opinions of which I can only imagine came from people who've never had to tackle a disability of their own. As a result my quiet humble thought-provoking blog link got taken down from the particular site that I had posted it on BOOO!

As a conclusion; we have a long way to go in dragging such topics which make society feel uncomfortable into the forefront and that your opinion is not necessarily correct simply because you shout the loudest. I can only hope that there are more compassionate people in the world than those who are far too caught up in the rat race to show a little human kindness to the fellow folk around them...I too wouldn't mind if they ended up missing their train home. Ha! Take that!

As insightful as the feedback/ debate was I now find myself being left with a new question;
Would you employ someone who has a disability? Let me know your thoughts.
The debate continues...