We’ve been saying it for a while now. No one listened, or worse, perhaps no one cared. The American economy and indeed our society at large is not designed to support opportunity and success for chronically ill and disabled citizens. From health care to education to employment to housing, America is simply not there for disabled folks.
For years, disabled Americans were told accommodations such as working or learning from home was too much of a burden. Yet, employers, large and small, as well as educational institutions across the country turned out home networks and distance learning programs within weeks to keep their workers and students on track. In deed, as I type this, the vast majority of our country is working and learning from home.
No doubt these are extraordinary times, but the measures now in place are not extraordinary. They were always possible – always within reason – there was simply a lack of will to deploy them for disabled Americans.
That’s a hard truth we need to examine.
But the truth keeps getting harder. As our health care professionals contemplated the looming crisis bearing down on their doors, there were active discussions surrounding who would get care and who wouldn’t should our health care system become overwhelmed. Guess who would be left to die? Bingo! Chronically ill and disabled folks.
There were actual discussions in the year 2020 where the conclusion was to let disabled people die because there simply were not enough resources to go around in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
That is a very painful truth we need to examine.
There’s more. As our elected officials designed a stimulus package to help the hardest hit Americans, guess who was left out of the discussion? You got it! Disabled Americans!
There were no provisions to ensure quality in-home care services, there was no discussion surrounding how people with disabilities could have access to protective gear or how they could continue to receive their life saving medication and medical supplies.
Unlike the majority of Americans who continue to go about their days with some inconvenience, disabled Americans are literally prisoners in their own homes, potentially without access to food and medication, for fear of being triaged into the “unlikely to live” pile at their local hospital should they leave their house and contract the virus.
That is the reality we live in and these are the truths we need to examine as a society and indeed as human beings.
Are we willing to live in a society that blatantly dismisses the value of certain human lives? Or, will we look this truth in the face and demand that it changes?
I know where I stand, how about you?