Ableism is a practice of superiority, alongside racism, sexism or homophobia – a habit of mind that says some human beings are more valuable than others. It divides us into winners and losers. Barriers are imposed on those who are devalued by ableism. This kind of mentality benefits the authorities and corporations that profit off our work and our in-fighting. It gets in the way of creating a more just and equitable society.
About one in seven people in Canada live with a mental or physical disability.
Some of us may perceive a differently-abled co-worker as being lazy, privileged, or less valuable. Finding fault in others weakens our overall objectives for better working conditions. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
This difference (and the pain) is not limited to the physical. Nor does everyone experience the same stress, sleeplessness and misunderstandings that result from being “different”. When compounded by a persons’ skin colour, cultural background, or other bases of oppression, these experiences can make life an uphill battle that others may not even see.
Remember, some of us acquire a disability through work, or by birth, or through medical issues. Stress and other challenges that modern society and the workplace impose trigger injuries that many do not see. The most common results are pain, mobility- and agility-related. Remember the high injury levels in postal work and the possible consequences.
No one deserves to feel guilt or accept less opportunity than another. Allowing abilities to divide us is a trap and only benefits the powerful. It is also cruel.
We can work on improving our workplace and the society around us when we stop blaming each other and face the root issues.
Corporate culture has turned us all into uncaring numbers, widgets, and commodities that miss the good in one another. It does not have to be like this at all. When settlers first arrived in what is now Canada, the original inhabitants celebrated difference as something special, unique, and part of a greater whole. The community prospered.
Life need not be a competition. We are powerful when we work together using all our unique forces and differences to improve our workplaces and lives. Learn more about ableism. Stand together for justice. Support one another to create better days ahead!
For more information and to stand in solidarity against ableism see: