Charity versus Justice in Disability Advocacy

First, let’s define both terms. Justice is the rectifying of and atonement for wrongs which does not equate to punitive measures. In the context of disability advocacy, charity is being someone’s friend while justice is standing up to bullies, mediating an apology, and enacting policies or creating social mores which on a broad level change sentiments and behaviors. While I talk much about the bad guys in my adolscence and childhood, I don’t talk much about the good guys although there were many of them. The problem with them was they offered friendship without standing up to the bad guys so they, ultimately, were, while benevolent, useless in fixing my problems.

Donations take the edge off of poverty while socialism ends poverty. So, why were the good guys so averse to politics? That is, the micro-politics of reforming their social group. The reasons are myriad. I have never understood the belief that politics is a dirty topic but that was a major reason. If there was a topic through which humankind could stop wars, end poverty, save the environment, and so forth, I would talk about it all the time and I do. While literally all human progress has been achieved through politics, politics is both nerdy and entails conflict which is another reason people avoid it. There are three reasons to become political. Lust for power, moral conviction, and love of the game.

Now, the only system of justice that nominally existed was the punitive system but it was useless for my purposes which was social acceptance. Much of the bullying was consensual “circus mokney” bullying where my social blindness was exploited to induce me to humiliate myself for the amusement of others. However, even in an ideal situation where I could get them in trouble that may result in me being left alone by them but I wanted to be respected, treated with dignity, and treated with kindness by the classes of my society. And that approach doesn’t end well. To use an LGBT example, that would just result in homophobes having gay-free communities. If, instead of social acceptance, we aim for keeping victims away from bigots, the results are segregated communities of bigots.

In the end, the only realistic end to this that would count as real progress for me and my people was through the long, painful, and political road. It requires moral courage, the willingness to sacrifice, and pissing people off. Offering friendship is much easier than fighting injustice. Even if you don’t break a law, the civil disobedience of defying social mores and prejudices is brutal as fuck for the people who do it. Being a staffer on the hill is easy politics, disobeying society is the single most traumatic thing in politics. I think of the book by Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. People are easily offended and offending people can destroy your life.

People are averse to the conflict and lack the courage to make the sacrifices. They’ll tolerate the segregation and give their charity to the people on the other side of town. As understandable as that position may be, it doesn’t leave much hope. Society wins and keeps on with its sins and it is that species of cowardice why liberalism, in the end, could not persist. Of all of the movements of the 2010s and 2020s, none stuck flowers in the metaphorical guns of the other side. They just screamed bile at them. Neither side learned to love one another and the world was the victim. Liberal democracy was the victim. A significant etiology being the cowardice that left me tortured. The offers of friendship from people who never stood up for me or my class of people. True love, including and especially agape, requires incredible sacrifice.

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