There is an old curse: “may you live in interesting times”. This is a curse that has come true for everyone who has ever lived. All times are interesting. Everyone has stories and experiences worth sharing.
It’s tempting to think of history as the actions of great men and women, kings and soldiers, grand houses and grander stories. But that’s only a tiny fraction of it. History is all of our stories- to indulge in a bit of a cliché: it’s HIS-story and HER-story.
Every second that passes is new history. We’re living in a world where the model of mobile phone I owned what only seems like a couple of years ago to me, is now a relic of a by-gone age that (and this does make me feel old) actually sits in a museum somewhere. By the time my son is old enough to have a phone of his own, it will seem like a flint tool to him.
Over the last few months, we’ve been running a new project. This project (kindly backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund) was designed to encourage people to talk about their own experiences of disability through the years. Over the next couple of weeks, that’s exactly what they’ll be doing. Right here, in video form.
We’ve interviewed a tiny cross-section of the disabled community of Aberdeen. Their stories are entirely their own and they’ve been kind enough to share them with us but just because these videos have been produced doesn’t mean that we’re finished.
Now it’s your turn.
We want to hear what your life has been like- the ups, the downs, the funny stories and the sad. If you want to share it with us, let us know! We’d love to make more of these films.
If you don’t want to share it with us, then that’s fine too, but please, please, do share it with someone. Every single one of us is a living history book.
It’s only by sharing these stories and experiences that people learn from the past. It’s only by sharing these stories we realise both how much and how little has really changed. We’re releasing the first of these videos today, the UN’s International Day of Persons With Disabilities, and right in the middle of Disability History Month to help highlight exactly that.
Each of these stories is precious and human. There are similar themes, but each is also unique. Two people could be standing beside each other at an event and, the very next day, tell two entirely different stories about it- and both would be right. The personal experience, what things felt like, is what makes stories come to life.
That is the beauty of these films; while they each have a broad subject in common, each person tells a different tale, and yet they somehow come together into something bigger than the sum of their parts and the more stories you add, the better it gets.
You might feel you’re no raconteur. You might think you’ve lived a boring life. You might think you’re not old enough to tell your part in history.
None of that matters. What matters is sharing stories.
I think the word curse in the opening line could be interpreted the wrong way. Glen Hoddle is a prime example of not understanding Buddhist Karma. He thought of Disability as a ” curse”. That idea stems from the Bible too : “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5–6). ” So the idea of being a disabled person is rooted in scripture, where the physical problems were a manifestation of Gods Retribution or ” curse”. Disability is not a curse in itself, rather it is simply life. Many people have to just to deal with the way that life and its many hazards, genetics, diseases and so on will affect our time on this blue planet – regardless of whether one believes in a supernatural fairy in the sky or not.
If one gets through life to a ripe old age with little problem, then one can only congratulate that person, and be happy for them. Many, many others though will not be so lucky and although they may look at life as a curse because of disability, it is up to society to treat others with respect, compassion and empathy, through positive education, and facilities for special needs.
I can’t think of anyone in the UK Government who has those attributes of respect, compassion & empathy as a natural part of their being. I can though spot several who back the Old Testament scripture that disabled people and their forefathers are to blame for their own situation nowadays, and deserve little or no help..