A few days ago a friend explained how devastating and depressed he was about the Brexit decision and the long term consequences for the country. I reminded him of some of the challenges the country has faced and overcame.
In the 1970s, it was mass strikes by the trade unions. In the 1980s, the cold war meant there was always a threat of nuclear war. The 1990s saw concern about global warming and the Y2K bug. After 9/11, we were threatened by a new form of terrorism and new ways of tackling terrorism.
I reminded my friend that he had not lost any of the assets and opportunities he had a week ago, and that it could be many years before he may feel any direct impact from Brexit. And this leads me to my point.
In recent years, there has been too much emphasis on what the government should be doing for the people, particularly those perceived to be disadvantaged, and not enough on supporting, enabling and empowering people to support themselves.
The last time I raised this issue I was accused of blaming individuals for their situation, which is far from the case. I believe any barrier to any situation that can removed should be removed, but this can often take years. Individuals meanwhile should not simply avoid the barrier until it is removed, they should look at the ways they can specifically overcome the barrier and be proactive in achieving what they want.
If I wish to go swimming, I can not expect to get an invitation from my council promising to arrange all the transport, equipment and support I need, and continuously moan until this happens. Instead and with support if required, I need a find a pool, check its accessibility, ensure I have the right kit (trunks, swim nappy, hat, swim jacket), arrange any support I may need, organise my transport needs and so on. If the pool was not fully accessible, then I will try to sit down with the appropriate manager to discuss how the situation could be improved as opposed to getting angry and starting an online petition!
My point is while we may all be glued to reading the endless live updates about the impact of Brexit as we watch political systems collapse, we still have to get on with real life. For many years until very recently, I was too sensitive about what the other activists thought on social media, because I believed discussion would cause change. My first article in the Huffington Post a few years ago caused a storm that lasted several months.
I concluded earlier this year that many left wing activists interested in disability were as stubborn as Jeremy Corbyn is being now. Like many now being consumed by Brexit, I was consumed by the hostile views of these activists that had a very different view of disability I could not comprehend.
But I rescued myself and focus better on myself in terms of what I wanted to achieve regardless of what anyone else though of me. I am the creator and master of own destiny, and while I will always want barriers to be removed, I will never let a few barriers stop me from achieving what I wish to achieve.
So while Brexit may indeed be causing political change, it is important to remember we still have our everyday lives to lead which is unlikely to change because of Brexit. It is important to understand whatever happening is the wider environment, we are and must believe we are in control of our destinies
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