Gods and Radicals is one of my favourite blogs. I thought this blog post was really important to share.
Reading it, this post struck a chord with me. As long-time readers will know, I have lifelong depression and anxiety (I so wish it was one of those things that happen because of a life event and can be recovered from in time, all I can do is learn to cope); my oldest friend has CP. In the twenty or so years we’ve known each other I’ve learnt that society will treat us like children whatever our ages. Whether it’s people talking to me instead of addressing her or people deciding I’m dangerous just because they hear ‘mental illness’ and assume all their prejudices are correct, we’ve been there, done that (or not as the case may be – buses sometimes refuse us carriage and the local cinema when we were teenagers refused to let us in as a fire hazard), bought the tee-shirt (again, or not. Disabled and long-term sick people tend to be poorer on average.)
I expect better from the pagan religious movement; social justice is an aspect of many people’s paganism, in my experience. It isn’t hard, just ask. Think things through when you plan events – I need a quiet space or I become overwhelmed, and to be warned before any hugging or physical contact, others need accessible toilets (more than one!) or hearing loops, solid tracks (I do not recommend wheelchairs crossing a muddy field), or ground floor rooms. If we’re an inconvenience, you’re humaning badly.
And for crying out loud, treat us like adults with agency who understand our own conditions and current wellness.
I don’t go to pagan events, even though I want to because I struggle to afford to live; trains, accommodation etc. are beyond my means. There’s also some assumption that everyone can drive when events are out in the country, or that mobility is not an issue. There were two local pagan events this year, one out in the villages which I couldn’t get to because I have no transport nor could I afford the expense, and one in Lincoln. At the top of Steep Hill, in a very old, unadapted building. Now, this isn’t so much a problem for me, I can climb Steep Hill if I have a few rest stops, but it’s not great for the wheelchair bound or those with mobility problems. Tje cobbled streets are another issue. The entry cost was reasonable but with train fare and food costs, again, it was more than I could afford.
Society and government chooses to make us vulnerable, chooses to make it hard for the disabled and long-term sick to live rich and fulfilled lives, to access the same things as everyone else, to be equals.
Society can choose to treat us as equals, can treat us with justice too, if you want.
The Government is beyond hope; we’re a drain on resources to the Tories, who happily let ill and disabled people die.