Being Free: the Prize out of Reach

One of the blogs I have written that has received the highest number of hits was a sermon I gave on how cuts to benefits and our perceptions of disability are affecting those living with their reality (it is only beaten by one on the black triangle!). It was also posted to an amazing blog/campaign:
To help us reflect on the message of freedom inherent in pesach Sue Marsh, the writer of diaryofabenefitscrounger and an incredible voice of hope for many campaigning, or just struggling day to day with cuts to disability living allowance and other constant nips and tucks and attacks from all sides, kindly agreed to write a blog for you all here, reflecting on what that message of freedom means to her today. I wa deeply moved and inspired and I hope you will be too reader.
Thank you Sue:

Here is one of my favourite quotes

"When your people are oppressed, freedom is easy to define"

It is the prize, glittering just out of reach, it is the day you can leave the house, free from fear. The moment you are reunited with choice.

Without freedom we are trapped, forced to live a life others create for us.

Oh, as I watch the million ant like, unidentified humans scurry about their morning business, I'm sure few feel free. With gas bills and school runs and child care and deadlines and late shifts and obligations and doubt.

But they enjoy a freedom sick and disabled people in the UK are beginning to forget.

It's unlikely anyone will scream at them as they park their car. Call them "cheat" or "scrounger" and throw rocks at the windows.

It's unlikely random thugs will surround them in broad daylight and spit in their face, punch them until they stop trying to get up. Even if they do, that people will look away muttering muted agreement as they lay helpless on the floor.

It's unlikely that their income is dependent on one huge monopoly and if it is, that there is absolutely nowhere else that they can possibly derive an income from. Nowhere else to go, no other job to get, no alternative way of feeding themselves or their families.

We'd all like more freedom. We'd all like to throw off the chains of everyday life and become fishermen in Nova Scotia or smallholders in the Cotswolds or artists or painters or racing drivers.

Those chains that bind us all - some cruel, some crafted from love, take slice after slice of what we think our freedom is, sometimes, at times, little seems to remain.

But if you worked all your life, only to find the kids have all grown and left home, and serious illness or disability strikes, it can seem as if all that is left of freedom are memories.

Live on what they say you need. If that already pitiful amount is to shrink, you must endure. If they take it away altogether, you must endure. Not incontinent but can't get out of bed at night? Wear nappies because we say so. No-one to care for you? We may step in. Or increasingly, we may not. Can't walk? We might take your car away or your ability to fund one. Can't speak? We can't hear you. Can't understand? We will make sure you never do. Endure and endure and endure and all without the freedom to change a single thing.

Democracy has failed them - though how hard they tried to engage it. The media and the public have failed them. In some cases those closest to them have failed too, dissolved into the world that only thinks itself trapped.

Our country has done more to give sick and disabled people freedom than almost any other. The freedom to live independently, through the Independent Living Fund, the freedom to be warm and fed through Incapacity Benefit, freedom to get out and about through the motability scheme, freedom to engage with society through the Disability Living Allowance, freedom to keep working through Access to Work, freedom from persecution through the Disability Discrimination Act, freedom from isolation, freedom from living a life others could not begin to contemplate.

And today, it is all under threat. Every freedom, so hard won over 40 or 50 years of progress, stripped away or eroded beyond use.

Those dealing with their own, everyday constraints don't believe it, or maybe they just don't hear. Can't perceive true oppression or that it may stalk by their side in the UK in 2013.

And that is when freedom becomes everything. As we allow it to seep away for some, unchallenged, convinced as we are that our own chains are tight enough, we commit the greatest mistake man can make.

For once we lose freedom for even one of our own, we lose it for all. None can be free when we allow casual oppression. It opens a door our fathers and grandfathers fought with their lives to slam shut.


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