"One voice can be stronger than a thousand voices." - Captain Kathryn Janeway to Seven of Nine. (from the Star Trek: Voyager episode The Gift)
One voice can be stronger than a thousand voices and that can be a very wonderful thing. People with strong voices have changed the world and shaped our history. And others with voices equally as strong have changed it in small ways too, influenced one person in a small way and shaped their life, made a difference to them.
One voice can also be damaging. It's something I've come to learn through my time as a CAB adviser. People, all people not just people in the public eye, need to be aware of what they are saying. More than that however, they need to be aware of how they are saying it. That's something which has been brought to my attention time and again over the last week or so.
People have made comments to me or asked questions which could be interpreted as hurtful or in some cases were not deliberately meant to be hurtful but have the potential to cause harm. I am able to realise the truth and the real situation in most of these cases and so I am not affected. But then I am because I know of many people through my various different achievements and experiences who wouldn't see those words for what they were and would be harmed by it.
This happened on Friday, twice on Saturday and also yesterday. Perhaps I am reading too much into some of these situations, I don't have the distance from them to be able to judge.
I'll leave what happened on Friday because it's not really relevant to this entry. On Saturday I went to the hygenist. [background: I am seen by the hygenist in a different consulting room to her usual one due to access issues, the receptionist vaguely knows my parents] The receptionist was getting the room sorted out and moving my wheelchair away from the dentists chair after I transferred. She was chattering to me when all of a sudden she comes out with
"So will you ever get better Emma?"
I explained what CP is and that it's a from birth to death type thing.***
She went "Awwwww"
I said it's fine and how can I miss something I've never had? Which for the most part is true.
I have no problem with discussing my disability, I believe it's a really positive thing to do. And as my Dad commented it's a fair thing to wonder. But it would have been a nicer question if it had been phrased as "so what's your disability?" or if she knew I had CP "What does CP mean for you?"
Being asked if I would get better annoyed me because I found it rude... but I know people who it would have really upset or devastated - to her it was an innoculous question but to others it could have been a real issue.
My social worker yesterday made a few "suggestions" as to my care and the way I use my direct payment to organise it. One of which was that I should stop using my agency as it's almost a waste of money. I can (she says) get my sister to do my care (or at least the part that is about to be set up as new). I explained that my 17 year old sister who is in sixth form, learning to drive, working part time and going to university in September doesn't have time to do it. She then asked whether Sophie ever comes to see me and said "well when she comes she can do your care rather than whatever it is you usually do." and also made the comment that if I am worried about the tax/employers responsibilities that come with using DP to fund a private carer I can just not pay my sister.
Yes once again she proved that she doesn't live in the real world. So I just got really annoyed but kept it to myself, thought she was a silly woman and then vented in this journal when she left .
It's like Soph said when she heard that though - to some people what a social worker says is gospel and there is no way that idea would work in practice. Again, I know people who don't know their rights like I do and would just go along with the suggestion regardless of it's practicality. So she should listen to what is said because it could end up with this huge situation which blows up in her face.
The power of one voice alone is a wonderful thing... but it's a power we need to be careful with. One voice can do great stuff, but it can also do terrible stuff. No matter who we are.
***Bonus points go to my carer who when I told her about that conversation went "Well, I'm just waiting for my leg transplant... i've been waiting for quite a while so it should happen soon and then I'll be _all_ better" in the most wonderfully sarcastic way and made me laugh so hard