Three quotes sum up where we all are.
In congressional hearings on the financial crisis the former head of the US Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan said, “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organisations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders.” In other words, the financial system is not self-correcting.
Two years ago, at the COP-26 conference on climate change its chair and Government Minister Alok Sharma said: We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment,” In short the financial system cannot save itself even when facing its own destruction.
In March 2020 when recovering from the pandemic the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "We are going to do it, we are going to do it together. One thing I think the coronavirus crisis has already proved is that there really is such a thing as society.” In summary reciprocity counts for more than what is commissioned for and especially in a crisis.
At the same time as Johnson was speaking, 20,000 retired NHS medical staff returned to frontline duties. These people had skills to contribute to the resolution of the crisis. They knew their mission. In previous crisis other groups had acted on a similar collective mission. In the first world war women had filled the vacancies in the munitions factories. In the fifties BAME people had been recruited from overseas to fill vacancies in the health service, transport, cleaning, and other public services. With increased levels of support might disabled people fulfil the vacancies created by the Brexit deal ending the free movement of labour.
There are 4.09 million economically inactive disabled people (ONS data from January to March 2023). Many of these people are well qualified but have not made the transition to employment. These people are thus a valuable resource for overcoming skill shortages caused by Brexit. But they offer even more than this. The sheer diversity of health conditions, their varying degree of severity and resilience in learning adaptation techniques and coping strategies means that by their very nature they offer pluralism and since their equality can only be achieved by treating them all differently, they bring a plurality of solutions too. Pluralism offers scope for a diverse economy in which risk is distributed and the responses to risk are more decentralised.
Some societies foster a personal mission. This gives their lives motivation and meaning. The Japanese provide an example of this with the concept of Ikigai. It serves them well. However, to respond to the systemic crisis such as climate change that affects us all a collective mission is called for. If the moment has arrived for disabled people and those with a long-term health condition. Hallelujah. Our society needs to have a safety valve on runaway greenhouse gas emissions. The chance should not be missed to equip a huge slice of the UK population with the skills to live a zero Carbon impact lifestyle. Of course they may equally want to obtain the new jobs in artificial intelligence – AI - and financial technology - fintech. Alternately and only if they want to, I think it possible that disabled people may have an historic mission.
Not the end.
The Disability Resilience Network has a mission to succeed, and we want to support you in your mission. Visit and read our philosophy at www.disabilityresilience.com then complete and submit our free membership form. Don’t forget to volunteer an operation purple vote event in your constituency and invite us to speak at it. You and I should have the last word the future is unwritten.