I have a dream
A dream I had recently seems set to plague me. I am slumped over on a roundabout, in the middle of five lanes of cars all moving extremely fast, fluidly and confidently along the motorway of their lives. I am crouching down, just barely seated on a concrete traffic island in the middle of this, and there is no-where to go. My face is bashed and bruised, and my spectacles are crooked, broken. To have fallen, that would explain the bruises.
Beside me there are two older men, dressed in torn rags, drinkers, I suspect, from the look of their faces. They would have been loved once, when they were younger, fitter and less broken by the ravages of their street lives. Now, they are hardened street bums, and over us all stands a policeman in a smart blue uniform, eyeing us warily.
The cop thinks I am like them. He thinks I am a waster, a loser. Because I cannot get up and walk, because I would stagger and fall into the traffic with fatal consequences, I cannot move. Meantime, another one of me is in a cool, quiet hotel lobby, explaining to a reporter….
“I just got a life, and now they have taken it away from me. While everyone else seems to be going places, here I am stuck on the roundabout, because now, I cannot leave the house. I had such a small life before I had my car, and now, what little freedom I managed to discover has been taken away, as if I am unworthy to be part of the stream of life that others just accept as their due.”
Instead of asking people if they can walk, those who dole out financial assistance and monitor its value in the lives of disabled users, should be looking at the difference it makes. Without a car, for example, I would be stranded at home, staring out of the windows. It is difficult, expensive and rather dangerous for me to venture outside. Without the freedom to drive a small way each day, venturing outdoors becomes exhausting and ruinously expensive. Most of us who currently have the use of a car will, if it taken away from us as a result of the latest welfare reforms, find ourselves cornered at home, having no wish to get run over, or to bankrupt ourselves or the family.
While the government talks about austerity cuts, they forget that most people who currently benefit from free vehicles depend on them utterly, to participate in life and make living meaningful and active, despite disability. Without a car, my life choices shrivel and I become morose, depressed and exhausted. Austerity may be necessary, but taking away vital tools from those who depend on them, is like cutting off a limb or two. No-one, in this latest round of cost saving, is forcing the able-bodied to surrender their freedom. Yet without a car, there is precious little choice left to the rest of us between having a life and a living death.