This morning dawned cloudy and cool, which was refreshing after two days in sweltering Boston; there is a reason one lives in Vermont. We were in Boston for family and work. Jennie discovered a hotel deal so we stayed in Cambridge, right on Harvard Square, and enjoyed avoiding the commute. The new Cooper Museum at Harvard was across the street, and we caught the last day of a truly moving exhibition there. The small museum is dedicated to African and African-American art; the show was predominantly contemporary and explored the African diaspora as experienced by living artists.
Then we crossed the bridge to Boston to meet up with my stepson, Daniel, who is an artist and arts administrator. Daniel is working hard to bring accessibility to one of the city’s iconic, and inaccessible, visual arts institutions. a building surrounded by even less accessible galleries and stores. (We are so proud of him!) Actually, I had the same issue in Cambridge, where, as in Boston, many stores, restaurants, and galleries are in historic buildings, and thus are exempted from most accessibility standards. I lost count of the number of times I found myself looking up a set of stairs and calculating the cost of ascending and descending them.
By the end of the day I was stewing, a condition that apparently continued overnight as I awoke this morning feeling angrier and more frustrated than I had when I went to bed. Aging with Post Polio requires and apparently endless set of negotiations as one losses function. The difference between now and two years ago is striking, and was once again underscored by my growing reticence, then refusal, to go up stairs even to do things I really wanted to do. Even though I refused to punish my legs, today they are weak and painful.
All this took place in the context of the present political situation, in which one side rails against making spaces accessible for persons with disabilities and threatens to do away with the very legislation that makes any semblance of accessibility possible. At the same time, the other principal party has adopted the Neo-liberal position that supports some accommodations while systematically undercutting the programs of support that make life with a disability possible for innumerable people.
Both sides agree on the project of blaming persons with disabilities for our challenges. Although their rhetoric differs, they insist that everyone could be wealthy and healthy, and thus, need no accommodations, if we simply worked hard enough. By doing so, they ignore the simple truth that any system contains a finite amount of energy, and that concentrations of resources in one quadrant leave scarcity in another. (Ironically, Post Polio is associated with a lifetime of making too many demands on a Polio ravaged body, essentially being a condition of over achievement.)
Of course, our political leaders’ lack of empathy is not limited to issues of disability, but extends into the realms of economic and racial justice, and environmental stewardship. Their blaming hearkens back to very dark days, indeed. As a young adult I accepted the task of holding a healing vision for the present, and for future generations; today I am finding hope for the future illusive.