It is a great irony that as I have become more aware of and invested in the need for social justice activism, I am less able than ever to participate in it.
Think of every “call to action” email you’ve received. “Call your representative,” they urge. “Don’t email, emails get ignored. Call today!”
Well, I can’t call. Hard of hearing, dont’cha know, with the resultant anxiety surrounding any situation where I might actually have to talk to someone without being sure of what they’re saying. (Interesting side factoid: I can usually handle the interaction in a drive-through fast food place because it’s so heavily scripted. Go off that script even a little, and I’m lost.) And no, TTY phones do not help in my case.
There are other things I’d love to do, but can’t because of my chronic pain. In-person lobbying. Escorting at Planned Parenthood clinics. Even the online stuff that just requires spoons that I don’t have most of the time – networking, posting, retweeting, emailing.
And, of course, the most common request I get is for donations. Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Courage Campaign, Kiva, Doctors Without Borders. We’re cash-strapped not only by my husband’s layoff, but my disability-based inability to work a regular job and the hundreds of dollars per month of medical insurance and copays that we cannot go without. And that doesn’t even get into the issue of the opportunity cost (see the Paradox of Choice for more on that.)
In short, I am irked that right when I am most willing to Do Something, I am drowned in ableist pleas to Do Something that I cannot do. I am doing what I can – my art, blogging, participating in discussions when and where my spoons permit – but in the face of those endless pleas for phone calls, personal appearances, and donations, my best attempts are framed as pathetic excuses for avoiding “real” activism.
Date: February 16, 2010