Thaddeus Pope and I disagree on many things. However we are quite capable of sitting down and discussing where we agree and disagree. So it is thanks to him and Facebook I came across the following video created by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation.
I am stunned by this video. The express purpose of the video according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation is to promote good health. Link: https://www.makehealthlast.ca
In a highlighted box next to the video it states "Canadian are living longer. But not necessarily healthier. On average, we'll spend our final ten years with sickness and disease.. However, we can change this. The choices we make now can help shape a future of strength and vitality instead. The Heart and Stroke Foundation wants to help Canadians like you make those choices. So you can spend every moment not just living, but truly alive. Now's the time to Make Health Last."
One is then supposed to take a risk assessment.
I will accept the intent of this video was to promote good health. I took the risk assessment. Apparently I have a good diet. I am physically active enough but I could drink a little less alcohol and reduce the consumption of salty snacks (like I didn't know this). The Heart and Stroke Foundation is undoubtedly promoting a healthy life style and making some common sense suggestions. Again, the intent is good. What disturbs me is a word that is not used in the quote above--disability. While the word disability is absent, it is used as a counterpoint to good health and quality of life. Disease and illness are bad. Disability goes hand in hand with disease and illness thus by extension disability is just as bad. I am not being an alarmist. I offer up the following counterpoints that are disturbing:
Quote: "We'll spend our final ten years with sickness and disease
Translation: The final ten years of life you will be a burden upon others and family. You will be disabled and lose your dignity. You will be a drain on limited health care expenditures.
Quote: "We can change this
Translation: If you alter an unhealthy diet, become active and avoid stress you can avoid becoming disabled. Fear is very effective.
Quote: "You can spend every moment not just living but truly alive"
Translation: Death is preferable to a life with a disability. One cannot have a disease and illness and have a good quality of life.
One word though leaped off the page and sent a chill down to my level of paralysis--help. The Heart and Stroke Foundation wants to help Canadians. When someone wants to help me, especially in a health care setting I am sure of one thing--I am screwed. When I hear the word help I am instantly on high alert if not fearful. This is part and parcel the history of disability. Many people want to help but no one ever asks why or how. A predetermined outcome has been decided under the guise of help. These decisions are usually made without the input of the people they are designed to help. Disability history is replete with help for the disabled. Help in my mind is associated with travesties and nightmarish narratives. Examples abound:
Women and men sterilized without consent. Read Unspeakable: The story of Junius Wilson
by Susan Burch & Hannah Joyner.
Forced and coerced institutionalization: Read Acts of Conscience: World War II, Mental Institutions, and Religious Objectors
by Steven Taylor.
Ugly Laws few even know existed. Read Ugly Laws: Disability in Public
by Susan Schweik.
I could provide hundreds of other examples and suggestions. The skeptic will posit: "Come on Peace you are talking about the past. The ADA has been great for people with a disability." This statement is correct and false at the same time. The ADA does indeed protect the civil rights of people with a disability but there is no social mandate for the law. The ADA is perceived to be an onerous and unfunded Federal mandate. Please do not expect me to celebrate--not when a man such as Timothy Bowers who experienced a devastating spinal cord injury is counseled by his family and physicians to die within one day of his injury. I can not celebrate knowing Christina Symanski, a quadriplegic that dehydrated herself to death because she felt her quality of life was insufficient. I cannot celebrate when a profoundly cognitively and physically disabled child is unlawfully sterilized at the urging of her parents and physicians at a leading children's hospital in the nation.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation tried to help but there is a dark underbelly graphically illustrated in the video. Good parts of life include bikes, family life, walking, fishing, vitality, jogging etc. Bad parts of life include wheelchairs, stair lifts, medication, assistance eating and drinking, hospitals, nursing homes, oxygen, social isolation etc. This overly simplistic dichotomy of good versus bad is inherently destructive. The video might prompt some to embrace a healthier lifestyle but at what cost? The fear and alienation it promotes is unsettling because it reinforces the already existent social isolation of the elderly, terminally ill, and disabled. I think we need to rail against this as a human rights violation. This is the sort of help I will gladly accept.