We Are Not Chess Pieces


Written by guest blogger Avery
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I n January, I was asked to speak at a local health care rally. This was around the time that the State of Maine was debating cuts in Medicare & prescription drug coverage for people who were elderly and/or had a disability, in order to balance Maine’s budget. Here’s part of what I said that day…

... If we have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine, many of us will forego needed medications that keep us healthy & active citizens. Let me repeat that: Healthy & Active Citizens! Ergo, many of us will get sicker and some of us will unfortunately, die. In a society where I feel it is important to take care of everyone, I feel that this reality is shameful…

… I don’t envy your position; it must be an incredible feat to attempt to balance a state budget. I just feel that asking our state’s most vulnerable citizens to potentially make sacrifices to our health & wellness is the wrong way to achieve this goal…

"The majority of us who struggle financially work harder than our critics will ever understand!" We were lucky this time that these cuts didn’t go through but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, especially since the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act is being debated by the Supreme Court. Some people look at those of us who are elderly. disabled, and/or poor as chess pieces in a game that can be moved this way & that for political advantages. You know what? I’m not a chess piece; I’m a person.

I think some people who don’t understand our lives tend to judge us by who we used to be, who we could be, if in the words of many, we “tried harder” or “got off our lazy a**,” or additionally in my case, could have been had I not been born with a disability. I think it is up to us to show people that our lives have value now and that the labels put on many of us are not true! We aren’t “lazy” or “stupid” or “welfare queens” or a “drain on the system” or need to be “shown the dignity of work.” The majority of us who struggle financially work harder than our critics will ever understand!

Personally, I think that it is important to stay socially and politically active in causes that are important to us, whatever they may be because if we don’t speak up and fight for ourselves, who will? I know sometimes it can feel hopeless and that our voices don’t count but we need to fight on because we matter and people need to hear from us!

That’s why, when Pat asked me to be a part of the Forum on Poverty, I jumped at the chance. We need to put our faces out there to show that we are human beings and not nameless, faceless statistics in some national labor report. I’ll be on that stage, proudly, because I’m not ashamed of who I am and the life I’m striving to lead despite my challenges.

author About the author
Avery has a Masters Degree in library science. Born with physical handicaps which prevent him from walking he requires Mainecare to fill his healthcare needs. Although employed he can not work full time or he will lose access to this necessity. His need for health insurance keeps him in poverty.

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