Saturday, 23 January 2016

Some Things That Should Not Have Been Forgotten Are Lost


"The world has changed.  I feel it in the water.   I feel it in the earth.   I smell it in the air.   Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it."

These are the words that start the movie Lord of the Rings, spoken by Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, and they have been tugging at my consciousness.   

Of course the world has changed, it always has, always will.   for those of us fortunate to have been born in the West that change has, for the most part, been beneficial.   can anybody over 60,  born into the poorer communities ever forget what it was like to live without heating?... waking up to ice on the INSIDE of the bedroom walls, pee in the pot with a frozen crust on top... oh yes, let's not forget potties and outdoor loos folks... climate change does have some advantages, warmer winters.   We had no washing machine, no fridge, no freezer, no carpet, no TV, no supermarkets, no car, very little food, worn out clothing... no, they weren't "the good old days", poverty wore a different face back then, a much darker face. 





Our attitudes towards health have altered beyond recognition since the 1950's.   those with learning disabilities were stashed away out of sight, parent's told to "forget about it and try for a normal baby", or hidden with shame at home... bars on windows, locks on doors... taunted and tormented by fearful local children who knew no better and had no contact apart from glimpses of these "monsters" through the few fitful twitches of curtains.   there was no government finance for families brave enough to hope for a future for their "defective, mentally sub-normal infant", no social service support, no respite. funding came through pennies dropped into the "spastic girl" collection boxes... not many pennies as there were few to spare, charity HAD to begin at home as it was rare to find it elsewhere. "Potential" was a word seldom spoken, never heard

The sick and disabled received little or no help from government or local authorities. quality aids and prosthetics could only be acquired privately, those without the means relied on friends and family, those alone suffered silently and died young.  in 1951 800 limbless servicemen marched on Downing Street in what was called The Silent Reproach March, yet it wasn't until 1970 that minimal cash benefits were introduced for the disabled and their carers but it was insufficient to lift them out of abject poverty.  this was improved when Labour returned to power in 1975 and again in 1997 when life for the disabled became comfortable for the first time and the spectre of dying cold and alone became less of a normality.



When these memories bubble to the surface the tale i tell my friends under the age of 40 is received in disbelief, they are unable to conceive that life was so different within my life span.   it's as alien as crinolines, horse drawn carriages and The Workhouse are to me.   they seem to think a life made comfortable for the less fortunate has been available to all for generations, that the safety net isn't a modern luxury but a fundamental right, that pensions and sickness benefits are mandatory for governments, that these symbols of an enlightened and civilised society fell from the sky unsought rather than fought for through politics and protest and the pain of the dispossessed.   "Much that was is lost; for none now live who remember it"...  and that's the danger.

We are on the cusp of losing much that exhibits our humanity. Mahatma Ghandi said  "a nation's greatness is measured by how it treats it's weakest members".   here are just a few of the benefits our most vulnerable have lost since 2010,  EMA for the poorest students,  Child Tax Credits restricted,  Working Tax Credits frozen,  WTC 50+ abolished,  Health In Pregnancy Grant,  Housing Benefit capped, Bedroom Tax implemented including extra room charge for disability equipment,   an estimated 180,000 lose Motorbility cars,  Disability Living Allowance criteria changed to exclude hundreds of thousands, Independent Living Fund closed not ring fenced,  and now Attendance Allowance for the poorliest over 65's is being considered for closure. (read link below)

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/attendence-allowance-abolished

I fear the closing words of Galadriel's soliloquy will come to pass before too long and
yesterdays forgotten austerity will become tomorrows reality.
   
"And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.   History became legend, legend became myth."



9 comments:

  1. Oh dear, oh gosh. I feel an essay in my mind, I feel an inability to compose my words. I'll give it a brief attempt, forgive my failure to do this justice...

    I read this not expecting to read the paragraph about those with learning disabilities. I smarted as my eyes travelled across the screen. My brother was one of those so called "mo*sters", whose parents were told he should be institutionalised. Thst they should try again for a "normal" baby, forget this one. He doesn't have the potential to know anything, be anything, be aware of his surroundings even. But trailblazing the way for those who followed them, my parents discounted the advice they were given. They stuck to their guns and kept him in his rightful place - with us, in our little nuclear family. It was hard, but we did it. Things hsve changed, improved vastly - I agree. But sadly, I don't think things are good now, with much respect. The disabled are unequal, undervalued, subordinated, ignored. There is prejudice and poor understanding. Human rights are handed out unequally, injustice prevails-- otherwise my brother would be alive. I'd still be making my Sunday call, hearing his voice , feeling his joy, knowing how valuable he is in the world. My world.

    And yes- it's all getting worse for society's weak. Society prefers the stong, the weak are weakened. I agree with your friend' s words. Things look bleak. We are indeed on the cusp of losing what has been gained over years. And we can judge ourselves by those wise words spoken by Gandhi.

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  2. a very interesting and thought provoking read Jeni, so sad that we have negative changes, for some, life will never be the same again. sharing post xxx

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    1. thank you dear friend. i know you understand from both sides of the care fence. you are very special to me. xxx

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  3. I recently came across this definition: Art is a lie which tells you a truth

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    1. I like that. Possessing an active imagination I've always found books, movies, music a way of accessing the emotion of facts so they take on meaning and are more readily absorbed into memory.

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  4. You have made an excellent points... what worries me is that there seems to be resignation to the increasing punishment of society most vulnerable. The rights that you say young people think have been around for generations, as you rightly point out is are relatively recent. But i think we also need to acknowledge they were fought for, and the government cuts agenda should be resisted for what it is- one which scapegoats the poor, ill, elderly and disabled under the guise of austerity whilst google and co get away with paying no taxes.

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    1. Completely agree with you. Forgive if that didn't come over. one of my flaws as a writer is being poor at pulling thoughts together to a conclusion. i need to work on it. i wrote this hoping it might encourage people to stand up for the vulnverable. you are right, i needed to point to the petition link more clearly to give readers a push to sign it and maybe get involved in resisting these changes. thank you... will think of your points next time i write. jeni

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  5. I have seen this coming for a couple of years now Jeni. Not worth talking about I was accused of negativity and disturbing people's peace. I must say this you can take a nation forward but you cannot take it back. Wake up Britain instead of what is happening to "them" it might be you next or your children. God sit's in His Heaven and He watches.

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    1. Anna sometimes we need to disturb the peace. As Christians it's our duty to disturb the peace of we see injustice towards the poor and the weak. I love the fact that whenever Jesus went to church he got chucked out for challenging the heirarchy and laying into the rich

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