Dignity

There are a lot of people asking this question. In the musical RENT, it was in relation to the impact of AIDS, and while that’s plenty big on its own – it is even bigger than that.

In the UK today 33% of the population cannot afford three or more basic necessities. These are people, young and old, sick, healthy, able-bodied and not, with mental health needs and not. They are men, women, children, babies, they are those who are both unable to work and are working yet unable to support themselves on their meagre wages… all minorities, all stripped of any sense of dignity for the sake of corporate greed and the unfeeling government that is supposed to care for them.

More and more often we hear about how things like domestic abuse, animal abuse, substance abuse and suicide are all on the rise; how mental health related issues are also increasing. How often do you suppose those who are in such dire straights think: “will someone care?”

Dignity, it seems, is a luxury only afforded to the top 10%, as far as the upper echelons are concerned, those in the bottom half of society are undeserving of respect; cold and unfeeling they barricade themselves from the rest of the world with words of denial at the unconscionable rise in the need for food banks, at the shocking number of people facing the very real threat of being left homeless due to rent arrears thanks to the Bedroom Tax.

We are told that to ask for help in this situations is beneath us, that only the worst of the worst would dare to hope that the rest of society would have an ounce of compassion and help them back on their feet. We are taught to dehumanise, to demonise, any and all who would suggest otherwise. The truth of this can be seen in the fact we now have news reports about people who commit suicide, seeing it as a preferable choice to somehow being perceived as a burden.

So, to be clear, I would like everyone to take a moment and ask the questions in the song:

“Will I lose my dignity?”

“Will someone care?”

“Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?”

And understand that, someone, somewhere – they could be a friend, a family member, a coworker, that person you pass in the street every morning – is asking those questions RIGHT NOW.

What are you going to tell them? That you find their suffering perfectly acceptable? You would like to think that the answer is no, but unless you stand up and fight with them to give them their dignity back, their respect back… if your continued silence is the only answer you give, then “your suffering is acceptable to me” is exactly what you say.

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