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What is the point of society?

Teal and green background with white handwritten text. Text reads: "We are all interconnected in one way or another".

It makes me sad to think how many people believe as a society we shouldn’t be doing anything for each other. That it’s simply not possible to, even though lots of different societies and communities and cultures around the world prove otherwise.


If you are higher-risk for Covid, or are otherwise Covid-informed and still advocating for the continuation of precautions, there’s this narrative that we all come across all the time and have been for years now. This mentality that you can’t expect society to be set up in a way that helps you:


“I’m not going to take precautions for you. If you’re higher risk you can take precautions, you can wear a mask, you can’t expect anyone else to do anything like that for you. You can’t expect society to change for you.”


Some of the closest people (correction: some of the formally closest people) in my life have said things like that to me.


We get it constantly online. This idea of how can I expect anyone to do anything for me. It's always fellow privileged white people that peddle this narrative to me. That's relevant, and highly unsurprising.


First off, it’s factually incorrect that only people with known pre-existing conditions are at risk for Covid complications and post-Covid complications. That’s not true. We’ve got years of scientific data at this point that very clearly states otherwise.


But even if it was, say it was true, high-risk people like me are people. I am just as much a person as you. I am just as real as you are. I’m just as present. I’m just as deserving as you are. I’m not less-than. I’m not some other thing. I’m a person. I’m just as much a person as you are.


People are being very very loud about the idea you don’t believe disabled and chronically sick people deserve equitable access to society. You’re being very loud about that.


Even people that claim to be left-leaning, and claim to care about access and inclusion, still maintain this narrative when it comes to the pandemic. That you can’t expect anyone to make change for you just because you are higher-risk.


I think that’s a horrible way to look at the world. I think that’s a horribly individualistic way to look at the world.


What is the point of a society if it isn’t to take care of each other? If it isn’t to help each other and be in community with each other what is the point?


We live with this individualistic narrative that shames people for needing help. It shames people for needing help and it puts people on a pedestal if they get to where they want to go seemingly by themselves. If they’ve done it themselves, if they’ve got themselves through something, we put them on this pedestal as if that’s what we all should be striving for. As if that’s the ultimate. As if being dependant on each other is weakness.


It’s a strength to have a society where people can lean on each other, a community where we help each other. I know I’m using the word society and community interchangeably and they’re not necessarily, but they should be. A society should be about community.


If you’ve never had your access needs denied, you might assume you don’t have any. Simply because our society is currently set up to cater to yours. You think I’m out of line for wanting my access needs respected only because you’re falsely assuming it’s not something you can or are benefitting from. If you are a healthy non-disabled person then you might assume you don’t have access needs because you’ve never really considered them. You’ve never really thought about it because you’ve never really had to.


But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have needs and that you’re not getting help from someone somewhere along the way. You are. We all are. And that’s fine. That’s good. That’s a good thing. That’s not something to belittle. It’s not something to shy away from. It’s something to strive for, actually. Working together, helping each other. That’s a good thing.


Genuine question, if you think society shouldn’t do anything for me, are you assuming no one is doing anything for you? Even people that think of themselves as really quite independent, that’s often because you’re not considering the unseen untold work of other people. Predominantly work done by people more marginalised that yourself. We don’t value it enough, we don’t value people that are doing the labour that we don’t necessarily see.


I live alone, I work alone, I pay all my bills, I buy my food myself, make my meals myself – for example. That doesn’t make me morally superior to someone that doesn’t do any those things. It doesn’t make me a better person, it doesn’t make me more deserving. It doesn’t make me a more valuable member of society. It’s not any sort of judgement on who I am as a person. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with it.


It seems on the surface as if I’m doing a lot myself, but I don’t grow my own food. The vast vast majority of people are not growing the vast majority of their own food. Someone else is doing that. Someone else is doing that for you, and they’re not getting paid enough. And they’re not valued enough. And I’m willing to bet their health and safety isn’t being valued either.


I don’t grow my own food, make my own medicine, make my own clothes, I didn’t build my own flat.


We’re all interconnected. Even if you think you’re super independent, you’re still connected to other people, we’re still dependant on other people. People are looking after you and you’re not looking after them.


This hyper-individualistic way of being means that we don’t value that help, don’t value the people doing that work, don’t value that labour, don’t value the people behind it. We don’t respect these people enough, we’re not paying them nearly enough, we’re not keeping them safe in the ways that we should be. We’re actually putting them in danger a lot of the time. All so that other people don’t have to think about it. So we can pretend we don’t need each other. So that we can pretend we are doing it all on our own. That we’re entirely capable all by ourselves, entirely on our own.


It’s just not true. It’s a façade, that we’ve built up. And I don’t wish to honour that façade. I don’t wish to maintain it.


You think you’re doing everything all on your own so everyone else should too. But you’re not. And no one should have to. I need people. I’m not afraid to say that. And other people need me. We’re responsible for and to each other.


Society runs on people. What do you think happens when we compromise everyone’s health in a bid to maintain the illusion of “normality”? Do you think that ends well, for anyone? Do you think that will end well for you?


Covid precautions are for me but they’re not just for me.


It isn’t the marker of a better society to have everyone solely responsible for themselves and everything that they need and no one helps anyone else. That’s not a better society. It’s not something to strive for. Where everyone is only out for themselves and only interested in helping themselves and nobody cares about helping each other and keeping each other as safe as we can.


That’s not the marker of a more well-functioning, well-formed society. I’m not even sure that’s a society at all.


We deserve better than this. We all deserve better than this, in so many ways. It can be better than this. Stop fighting against those trying to make it better. You don’t think so but you’re benefiting from this work too.


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