Disability, Employment and Optimism

Cover of Planet of the Blind....man and dog....

I’ve always said it takes depressed people to make optimism. Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the greatest exemplar of this.
One can widen it to include historical moments. The US was coming out of a deep economic collapse when it took on Fascism. If you don’t think fighting Fascism was based on optimism you don’t understand the big “O.”

Disabled as I am I dance with optimism and do it badly. I want the disabled to have jobs and when I talk about it I find all about me faculty and students who say they’re interested in disability but whose engagements are not about real people. They want to “critique” the dominant system which is certainly necessary but they’re not willing to admit cripples need to make a living.

Arguing for disability jobs is seen by many in academic circles as just another form of Neo-liberalism. It’s better to say that disability is created by capitalism and colonialism. Yet we live in a time when technology and design justice should in fact make it possible for old fashioned disability unemployment to come to an end.

Check out my friend John Robinson’s website “Our Ability”. John, who is disabled, is working with AI and corporate allies to build new ways for disabled job seekers to make employment connections. He and I are also working with multiple stake holders to build this effort into a future program engaging disability and entrepreneurship at Syracuse University.

I say this is optimism.

Oscar Wilde wrote in “Lady Windermere’s Fan” “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

I say the best day is when the disabled are in the world and making an adequate living.

Noam Chomsky: “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

One thought on “Disability, Employment and Optimism”

  1. I love your sentiments here, Stephen. I have been looking for a job since the pandemic started – unfortunately I graduated with my PhD at the wrong time! And I am looking at jobs in the disability industry. I’ve tried to hold on to optimism even as I can’t help but be pessimistic or cynical. I am hopeful as I’ve been getting more interviews as of late. And I look forward to doing work that gives people like us the optimism and opportunities to succeed. Also why does it seem like those you mention who are so critical of emphasis on employment already have well-paying jobs? I’m all for critiques of capitalism but they don’t help me survive!


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