“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear” – Mark Twain
Another foggy day out there and no wind to help dissipate it. From my window I can see the huge Canadian flag as still and innocuous as a snail trying to avoid the escargot plate. I know Mount Benson is on the horizon in the fog but unseeable today. I have a lot of unseen issues on the horizons these days but I know by tomorrow the mist will have lifted and Benson will still be there.
Regardless that doesn’t change that restlessness I’m feeling in my stomach. A familiar feeling that is my subconsciousness’s way of getting me to acknowledge the fear or dread that is creating my brain fog. That could be, in part, due to my Residential Tenancy hearing next Tuesday. That fear is causing a bit of self-doubt but I am prepared and I know I am right.
Frozen in fear, fear is the mind killer, there are all kinds of quotes regarding fear. We all experience fear and deal with it in our own way. Too often we let the fear control us rather than mastering that fear. Fear, like worry, does nothing but capture. Fear can hold you prisoner and keep you from moving on. I like to think I control my fears and not the other way around. It takes some courage to fight fear but I would rather that than succumbing to someone else’s abuse.
The origin of the often used quote “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” is attributed to many starting with a Sir Francis Bacon essay to Franklin D. Roosevelt and later repeated by Winston Churchill. I prefer to focus on FDR’s since he understood the concept of fear from a disability perspective. There was a lot of steps taken to hide his polio from the general public out of fear of what they would think. That was a point in our history when the perception of a disability caused a lot of fear.
In my last article I discussed the differences between “interdependence” and “independence” while attaching the ability to “self-determine” to it. I consider myself to be living independently. I have my own apartment, my car, do all of my own personal care and do my best to find those little joys in life. I really don’t have to be dependent on anything or anybody. I am discovering with aging that I am becoming a little bit more aware of the need for some supports but I am still able to self-determine and live with the outcome. I am able to do that because of checks and balances. A system that was build on policies and regulations designed over the years to provide an even playing field.
Things like building codes, programs to assist with the hidden costs of disability, residential tenancy protection for persons with disabilities (like having a service dog in a “no pet” building) or human rights protections that so many others take for granted. As a person living independently I also have the freedom to challenge my fears if I feel my rights are being denied. I can make that choice, I can take that chance without a lot of fear of repercussions. As a change-maker I have to be prepared to move past the fear and intimidation of a system depriving me of my rights.
I am now discovering that those systems no longer hold the strength they use to. Those systems are only as good as there enforcement and I am discovering that aspect has disappeared. There is no enforcement anymore unless we self-police. I am now having to actively challenge those who apply whatever initiative they chose at my expense. My rights are only as safe as my choice to stand up for them. Right now I can still do that, I am prepared to live with the consequences. It is more acceptable for me to conquer my fear than to be held a prisoner of intimidation and abuse. I am lucky but I am also determined.
I know from past experience that many of those who live “interdependently”, in other words are dependent on others for their comforts of life face bigger fears because of the potential of repercussions. The National Benefits Authority has mountains of documentation on that. When you are dependent on a system to live which could be taken away from you tomorrow it is hard to be courageous. Courage doesn’t get you out of bed or prepare your meals and the lack of those are serious repercussions. Sadly it happens!
Following my Residential Tenancy hearing I fully intend to move on. It won’t be easy, 70% of rental properties are not accessible so there are challenges to moving on but I have that option. Fear doesn’t stop me and I can apply my self-determination. Unfortunately, for so many living interdependently with a disability, it’s not the lack of courage that keeps them from challenging fear but the reality of the repercussions. Fear is their warden not their motivator.