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Compare and Divide

This story in the Guardian presents another ridiculous example of the mistreatment of the disabled. I mention it for a couple of reasons, but mainly because it leaves me thinking "what chance do I have?" and leaves me questioning what I'm trying to achieve. 

I've been told by the WP that I'm on the wrong benefit and that, were i to claim ESA, I'd have access to more support (if and when that materialises). Consequently my GP has agreed. But compared to Mr Douglas I don't stand a chance. If someone injured in a warzone is getting his support curtailed (and I'm not exactly sure what he's being denied as it's not entirely clear, I think it's DLA) then someone like me, with much milder problems, doesn't stand a cat in hell's chance - and that's before you factor in the serving soldier aspect which is of course an emotive issue at the best of times (and that isn't meant pejoratively either).

I have always tried to be clear, in everything I've posted here, that I do not consider myself as affected as some. But that is the reason I'm posting: the system and indeed society thrive on this game of compare and contrast. My circumstances, by deign of the function of this crazy system, will be compared to standards such as this, and if support for someone like Mr Douglas is denied then people - particularly the DWP - will think I shouldn't get anything.

Worse, Mr Douglas appears to be working. This may well be the reason for the curtailment of support. Now it seems to anyone with a modicum of sense that this gentleman needs support. I have absolutely no problem with him getting whatever he needs (that's kinda my point). In fact, while I disagree with the profession of soldiering, I certainly do not agree that personnel should be denied support; only the most callous would think like that (hence the Tories). So again, if Mr Douglas can work (and the article doesn't really explain how) then naturally one might ask: why can't you?

But life doesn't work that way. I'm not going to make excuses; our two lives are entirely separate. There's little chance of me starting or running a charity or a politician. I wouldn't even know where to start or to afford to do such things. Maybe I should ask the Jobcentre! People's circumstances should not be compared and contrasted and what applies to one person's life cannot always be applicable to everyone and anyone else. 

I'm sure some people will think I'm just making excuses. I can't do anything to change that, but surely it's obvious? That's before we even begin to address the reality of securing a job, which is something the government, in all it's welfare reform talk, completely ignores. The coalition argues for its changes while completely failing to address how one, for example someone that fails his WCA, is then meant to find and secure work over the thousands of able bodied jobseekers also struggling. Ministers, addressing the Policy Research Institute (a convenient echo chamber), claim Universal Credit will directly lead to 300,000 people getting work but doesn't even begin to explain how!

People often resort to platitudes these days; we seem to live in an era of greatly reduced discourse, where folk have a small list of often trite statements. You will be told things like 'other people manage' or 'other people are worse off'. Of course these things are objectively true, but who really feels better for hearing this and how are these statements supposed to translate into action. If someone can't find work or needs help in their own life, no matter the degree thereof, implying that they are feeling self pity is no help at all. I don't believe in self pity; it's my assertion that those who say this are just being defensive. We are living in tough times and people are lonely, frightened and struggling in their own lives; hearing that other people are saying their lot is worse just serves, in some cases, to rankle them. That's why people will be dismissive of others thus. So the answer isn't to compare and divide, it's to come together and give people what they need on their own merit. It's only the lanugage of austerity and the poverty mindset  - the message of neoliberal economics it seems - that compels people to adopt these divisive attitudes. I believe that there is enough to go around, it's just the will to address that isn't there. Instead it's divide and rule.

Or, to quote someone called Karl Marx: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need

(yes, I'm sure that's incorrect, inaccurate and inappropriate. can't win 'em all!)


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