Concerning dogma generally, but basically aiming at religious dogmas, I would like to theoretize a little bit about their consequences – pros and cons. Is it good to be the one to obey laws or the one who creates them? Don´t be the one who obeys laws that are against God´s principle,be the one who creates such, that fulfill God´s will. It is not about creating dogmas,but showing people an alternative for them. One dogma that comes to my mind is that one should not kill anybody, not even it if saves other peoples lifes. Another dogma is that one should not think about his/hers life, but primarily about the goodness that his action brings to the world. It is not about anything else but goodness. Not even life is as important as good actions. One should not do evil, in order to bring a greater good. One should not steal in order to dedícate the money to the charity because the consequences of one´s actions can see only God, I cannot see the future. I can only act right now, in this moment and not think about future. God wants us to be free, we have a free will and choice to shun evil, not because a priest or a dogma tells me,but because I want, and I should want to use my freedom to do good. Doing good does not depend on knowledge or experience, although I may have a bad experience doing something, it may be the right thing to do-beautiful in the eyes of God, my experiences and knowledge notwithstanding. One never knows what´s right and thus should follow his conscience,not anybody elses. It is good to be inspired by others, but it is inevitable to decide on myown,otherwise we are like animals who follow the group leader or base instincts. What consequences my actions shall bring is never known to me and thus I can decide only according to my conscience, not depending on my past experiences, which may be good or bad. What comes out of the heart is the only truth – God within us. Truth is not to be found, but is revealed every minute and will never be fully revealed and thus it is important to critically think about anything and everything that I encounter and not taky anything that comes to my life as a dogma or an absolute truth.
I was in a discussion about whether handicapped people should be motivated to attain higher education or whether they should be left in the care of other people. My mother told me about a guy who reached secondary school and finished it but the school was very easy and the degree he got made him unable to ask for social care benefits. His parents tried very hard for him to complete the school but now are despondent because he still depends on them and he cannot claim any benefits because he got the degree. Now they think that they would have done better if they hadn’t taught him and rather let him get social care benefits. I do not think that this approach works. On one hand he still depends on his parents and they won’t be able to look after him for very long . it may happen that because of his degree he will end on the street because he cannot claim benefits. but is making life easier the best thing? I think that using his potential instead of just letting it be and go in vain is much better option . I think that life which is fulfilled and difficult is much more rewarding than life which is lived in pleasure and vain. It is also immoral, in my view, to claim money if one is capable and able to earn them.
In this entry about minorities I intend to focus on the situation of people with mental and combined handicap in the context of the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. More concretely I will focus on the difference between community institution in the Czech Republic (sheltered housing) and community institution in the UK (L’Arche). I chose this topic because my occupation is social care worker in the sheltered housing in the Charity, which is also a community place, where I have been working for more than five years. During this time my career went from a volunteer through personal assistant and now I work at the leading position. All my posts offered a different view on the situation of people with certain physical and mental handicap. I am also very much interested in the L’Arche community which is very popular and exists on all continents and in 35 countries except Czech Republic.
What strikes me as the most topical issue today is the fact, that calling disabled people is in fact stigmatizing. It is enough to talk about someone as “disabled” and one is made disabled. This was seen on the results of children´s tests in the PBS Frontline series. When the teacher talked positively about the group – the group had better results than the same group when being told to be stupid and inferior (because of the color of their eyes). I think that this is also the case of children from special schools. Many of them would not be there if they were given a chance and were made motivated by the teacher, parents and surrounding. Some children just need to be more cared for and require more time spent with the teacher before he or she reaches results same or even better than the other students. If people and children with a certain disability, be it physical or mental, were given a chance, they would discover hidden potential within them. In my career as a social care worker for people with mental and combined disabilities, I can very easily describe that it is not their handicap that make people inferior, but rather their inability to cope with it. There are people who are motivated, and although they are handicapped, their effort is seen and these people are sometimes even capable of greater achievement than the “healthy”, “normal” society. The faulty view that people with a handicap are less capable or inferior stems from the fact that they are very little integrated into Czech school system and society generally – there is still the remnant of the communist regime – to shun them, to shut them somewhere where they will not be seen and will not bother the “correct” society. Children go into special schools and stay there and thus are kept segregated and thus it is so difficult to see them as normal in the sense of having the same value because in adulthood human is less capable to adapt new views about those people. The majority is not used to see them and encouraged to accept them as “normal” or rather equal and thus tends to keep them away. One of the possible means to change this is community instutions.
Sheltered housing which I work in was established in 2001 and is now home for more than 30 people with mental and combined disablities. Even though sheltered housings offer a very different approach (I dare say much better approach) than for example assylums, the vision of Jean Vanier´s L’Arche (also a community institution) is also very interesting.
“After a visit to a mental asylum in France, Vanier was moved by the appalling living conditions he witnessed to take unprecedented action: He bought a derelict house in a village outside Paris in 1964 and invited two patients to live with him in fraternity and equality. He called their home “L’Arche” — a play on both “ark” and “bridge” in French — and thus inspired a movement of 146 similar communities that now exist in 35 countries.For this radical at the time recognition of the essential humanity and dignity of the disabled, as well as his promotion of interfaith dialogue, Vanier has received the prestigious Templeton Prize. The $2.1 million award for “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s breadth of spiritual dimensions” has previously been awarded to Mother Teresa, L’Archebishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. Vanier, now 86, still lives in the original L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France.” (“A well deserved honour for Jean Vanier”).
I believe that this excerpt illustrates very nicely the commitment of Jean Vanier to the cause. The greatest difference in my view and experience is that workers (personal assistants) in sheltered housing in the Czech Republic are still considered employees, whereas people in L’Arche community are said to live with the people with disabilities and not be on the outer rim – opposite side – the idea of L’Arche is to eliminate as much as possible the dichotomy between a worker and a client. The approach of L’Arche is that employees are not the half-gods that help the people who are not so good, so healthy, so economically effective – all aspects so much adored in society today. The idea of L’Arche is that assistants and disabled people are equal, that there is not an inherent difference which makes one group better and one worse than the other. The idea is that although disabled people are not so capable, it does not make them less human, inferior than the “healthy” society. Although the L’Arche community is probably the most progressive, I must say that I like the sheltered housing model more. The greatest difference between L’Arche and sheltered housing is the fact that in L’Arche the workers are more of a roommates to the disabled (cared for) people, whereas in sheltered housing the difference or line between worker and a client is a clear one – which in someone´s view is not good, but in my view is not wrong at all. One such aspect is that for disabled people, because of their naturalness (which I shall elaborate on later) they are very prone to easy fall in love and express their felings. Sexual energy is one of the strongest drives in human life. Seeing the asistant being capable of almost everything and anything is making him/her virutally a half-god in the eyes of the disabled person. The disabled one who sees things, which are for an average human normal and easy, as a hard tasks starts idolizing such a person. Although that the plight for equality is getting more nad more intensive, there is still a certain difference which cannot be so easily overcome. A female colleague of mine experienced such a situation. A young man with mental disability fell in love with her because they were in a (although working) relationshiop on a daily basis. She was living with disabled people in a community and although that the relationships between “them” were encouraged, the gap between assistants and those cared for is still existing. He was very straight-forward and did not care for the women from withing the circle of similarily handicapped as he was. This gets us to the problem of making difference. How low has the IQ be in order to disable someone? Anything above or below 90-109 average IQ points makes one disabled or extraordinary (“IQ Classifications”). But how can be a disabled or somone extraordinarily inteligent be labeled solely on the basis of his or hers inherent IQ level? Should not be people measured more complexly and according to their character and not their inherent, given assets? Such an approach would of course be much more fair but still is in my point of view utopic, because although that people do not always find a a partner with the very same values (be it psychological, intelectual, physiological etc), it is probably true, that one finds someone who is equal – the more equal the better. An averagely inteligent human does not want to have as a partner someone who is too distant from him – too much inteligent or too little. This is the reason that I consider sheltered housing as a more benefitial model for both – the caring and the cared for. Nevertheless, Vanier´s vision is to create a community not a division to workers/clients, so common in Czech social system and even in the sheltered housing institution. This vision stems from the belief that all people are equal, and that all people are capable of helping others, one way or another.
Now I would like to focus on the differences that I consider worth mentioning between people working as assistants and the people that assistants should care for. In my job I experience on the daily basis lessons from people with disablities – one of the most important for today´s people is naturalness. It seems to me that people today are too much cautious about what they do, what they say and even think, because today everything is connected and it happens more and more often that one may be fired because of what one says on social media. People with disabilities, specifically people objectively having lower IQ levels (mental disability) do not think about so deep consequences. They are teaching us that the naturalness (when sincere) is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. I think that it is still more and more difficult for people to be candid to other people because of the fact that it may cause them trouble. Is this really the case? Is it not better to fight the fear in order to restore the natural human condition of honesty, frankness and outspokenness? I believe it is much more better for anybody to not need to be always aware of what others think about one because of what one says. It also works vica versa – people I work with are very outspoken and when they do not like what I do or say, they do not just nod as some people politely would, but readily ask and oppose to what they think is not right, even though that their opinion is usually not very sophisticated, because of their IQ, but this is precisely the thing that distinguishes people with belief in equality of disablied people and people who see them as inferior – the fact that someone has lower IQ than average does not make one less human. This is I believe the most important statement that should be emphasized. Today´s society I believe is very racional, admires intelligence and education, but the fact is that some people, with certain illnesses or (dis)abilities are just not capable of such achievements – nevertheless the case is that they are counted and viewed as same people and equal to those who have high IQ, abilites, education etc. What matters is I believe trying itself, potential to reach things although one achieves it with much more strain and effort than the healthy one. The inherent quality of beauty, ability or intelligence does not play any major role.
Now I would like to focus on some data concerning issues as housing, employment, discrimination etc., provided by the UK Government and compare it to the Czech Republic and my experience as a social care worker. According to the UK Government statistics, “The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6% of children are disabled, compared to 16% of working age adults and 45% of adults over State Pension age.“ (“Disability facts and figures.”). This is in my point of view a very topical issue not only in the UK, but anywhere where social system focuses on the elderly people and their well-being. Modern technology and medicine prolongs life span and thus generates a rising number of people above productive age. This is a positive issue, but the negative is that for example in Czech social system the ability to look after the elderly and infirm is not very developed. It is virtually impossible to find an acomodation in a hospice (this I know from my own experience). My great-grandmother became ill and it was impossible to lok after her in the home surrounding, but to find a place in a hospice for her took many months full of stress and uncertainty.
Living standards: “19% of individuals in families with at least one disabled member live in relative income poverty, on a before housing costs basis, compared to 15% of individuals in families with no disabled member.“ (“Disability facts and figures.”). In Czech social system the disabled member is entitled to claim benefits – in my sphere (people with mental handicap), there are four possibilities according to the stage of one´s handicap (from light to severe). The contribution is 800 (a little lower IQ than the average population), 4000, 8000 and 12 000 Czech crowns for those in need of daily and all-time care. Although that this benefit may seem rather high, the fact is that all parents (who usually care for their adult handicapped chldren) has to stay at home with them and the only breadwinner is the father (usually) thus making the whole family to live below standard level of income.
Employment: “According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people. In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate.“ (“Disability facts and figures.”). The employment issue is one very relevant today. People with handicap are naturally not so capable and able of effectiveness so much desired today in a world focused on effectivity and high economic contribution – who is not contributive for the state or company is automatically seen as inferior. Nevertheless, in past ten years there has been a great shift and development in sheltered workshops. It has to be acknowledged that the country like UK has a long history of Charity and caring for people with disabilities, whereas Czech Republic began a more progressive approach only after the Velvet revolution.
Concerning discrimination, the UK Statistics say: “Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people. In 2008, 19% of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13% of non-disabled people. Around a third of disabled people experience difficulties related to their impairment in accessing public, commercial and leisure goods and services.” (“Disability facts and figures.”). This is unfortunaly true, because as mentioned above, the society which is encouraged to the highest economical gains will always see those incapable of such efficency as inferior and redundant. I would say that it is very important to start viewing people with disabilities not as inferior, but as different. As mentioned above, handicapped may not be so effective concerning material efficency, but their approach towards life, their naturalness and frankness can be at times much more important for the society than material contributions.
In my essay I tried to illustrate the approach of community institutions (L’Arche and sheltred housing) and also the situation in the UK and in the Czech Republic from my point of view as a social care worker. I showed that people in L’Arche may feel a greater sense of belonging and equality than for example people in sheltered housing, but because of the merging of assistants with disabled people there can arise many difficult situations which may endanger the life in a community – on the other hand, sheltered housing where the line between a worker and a client is very obvious, the client always feels the stigma of being “different” from the worker. I also ofocused on the data provided by the UK government concerning housing, employment and discrimination and tried to compare it to my experince in the Czech Republic. I also mentioned the shift in past 25 years in Czech Republic, the transformation of assylums and the trend in developed countries to transform large instutions into smaller communities. Problem in the Czech Republic is that after so long a spell of communism when assylums was all that was available for people with a handicap, the journey towards no assylum society is much more diffucult than for example in the UK, where there is a longer history of care for people with disabilities. I would also like to emphasize once more that assimiliation of handicapped into “normal” soicety is the most important thing (transformation of assylums that are far from civilisation into sheltered housing and communities within the centres of the cities). Finally it is important to say that the more one sees a “different” group, the more is one capable of accepting them – unfortunately this works also vica versa. In Czech Republic, general public is not used to seeing disabled people and thus they still carry the stigma of inferiorioty in the eyes of the major population. Once again, what should be admired is not the “given” – beauty, strength, inteligence, color etc., but on the opposite – how is one capable of using what one has got – instead of just having it. The same applies to disability – being born with a certain handicap should not be an automatic way to social system and stigmatization. What makes one a human is not what he or she is born, but what one makes of him/herself.
“A well deserved honour for Jean Vanier.” Editorial. The Montreal gazette, Postmedia Network Inc. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015
“IQ Classifications.” Assessment Psychology Online. n.p. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015
I like to think about religion as something which is given. I do not think that in order to reach salvation and God one needs to know anything. whatever religion or denomination you belong to, everyone has certain moral principles already given. in other words all we need we have when we are born. All we need is the ability to distinguish between good and evil. choice is the answer. Although I am Catholic Christian I do not believe that this is the best religion for everyone. It is important to listen to one’s heart instead of listening to any other human being. Take for example buddhism. I do not think that the philosophy of niravana eg the bigger seclusion from world the better is inherently given within humans. this Buddhistic mantra is opinion, it is learned.what is learned cannot be absolutely good. The question whether Jesus was God or not is for me a question of logic. If Jesus was perfect ergo God that means that everything he did was perfect. he died on cross for our sins and accepting Jesus will grant us eternal life. even if someone says that he is not Christian and is a good human for me he is Christian. Nevertheless we do not need to know about Bible in order to know Jesus. His teaching is nothing new. What he says is basically what we already know . it is his acts that are making him God. humans acts are not perfect . we do not need Bible in order to get to heaven. It is sufficient to be good . I even do not need to believe in heaven. I like most the idea of being good even if I don’t believe in eternal life. being good for goodness sake . I like people who are good because they believe it’s good to be good rather than belong to any denomination. Unfortunately the experience of God’s presence don’t is not transferable via words. There came a moment in my life when all of a sudden i was gifted with belief in Jesus. all of a sudden everything made sense and although I knew that many things I used to do the were wrong and bad for me and for others I didn’t refrain from doing them. All of a sudden God give me strength to be a better man and stop doing those things. It all is about choice of either accepting God ,in other words being good or not accepting. In other words being bad
..with a word. How could have Jesus Christ known what is good and what is bad? Words. Words can be either descriptive or prescriptive. The former option is not absolute and depends on the amount of knowledge about the subject, whereas the latter is absolute and with a sufficient amount of words in debate we can conclude what is right and what is wrong – the difference between good and evil. Jesus, except being God, used words in order to show us what we already know – what is good and what is bad. Words are relative, of course, but to undestand words – to what they direct, if it is distinguishing between Good and Bad, then by the lead of our conscience we can be sure that we know which behaviour is good and which is bad. I do not think that one has to learn that crimes are not good – be it any crime. Even the psychopaths who do evil because of their lack of emotional response and cause damage to their victims know that their acts are evil and immoral, yet they do not want to refrain from doing such things-that does not mean that they cannot, once one understands or has the capability of understanding, he will be hold responsible for his acts. Humans have conscience, animals do not. Via the usage of words, we can conclude what we already know what is right. It is not inventing which are good and bad things, it is discovering what is hidden beneath the layer of superficial brilliance of today´s world. I think that everyone with a clear conscience would agree that doing good is the highest human virtue and basically the most and only important thing in the life on any human. Such that no other living creature is capable of. Doing good just for good´s sake, not thinking about the consequence and gains that I will consequently get. Doing good can however have many shapes and forms. This is where we delve deeper into the problematics of morality. For someone one thing is moral and one immoral. Many things differ with perspective, view, opionion, knowledge and experience. Not morality. One does not need any experience or knowledge to know what is right and wrong. Of course, when I hurt someone for the first time, I see that it is evil and I do not do it for the secondth time, but I do not need anybody to tell me that it is a bad thing to do – hurting others. Opinion changes with experience, the one who is more experienced can improve ours, but it cannot change with what purpose one does everything – good or bad intentions. The change cannot come from outside-it can only come from the inner of human. Words can help us find what we have within us and maybe what we have burried somewhere deep inside our souls. A concerete situation does not have and absolute moral answer to what is good and what is a bad choice, this varies with experience and knowledge. Nevertheless, hypothetically we can conclude what is right and what is wrong.
I like to present a moral choice of the well-known Sophia. How should one choose between saving of one´s children-one or the other? The answer may sound cruel, but it would be choosing none of the children. Deciding among two – both evil choices resuls in less evil than the death of both, but it still is evil. The only morally sound answer would be not choosing. The voluntary death of the children would have a great value. There is nothing better than dying for a moral cause. In reality I would also weigh pragmatically and would choose one child, but it would not be the best option. It is reasonable to choose the younger/stronger etc. depending on my opinion, but imagine the surviving child thinking about his parent´s choice. Would not want one rather die, than put somone into such a predicament of deciding between two same-value lifes? As a child I would rather die than force the parent to make such a choice. Choice is what distinguishes us from other living beings, we all have a choice. The highest choice being of course voluntary death for what I believe is right. If the guard said that without choosing the child, he would kill all three of us-such a death would be the most virtuous one can die of.
I read somewhere another moral dilemma-a pregnant woman gets stuck in an entrance to a cave and the people in the cave cannot get out and will die in a few hourse before of influx. Is it morally acceptable to blow the woman up with a dynamite (this being the only option offered) rather than letting the people inside die? Again, we have to distinguish between a voluntary death of giving up trying and a voluntary death of clear conscience – determining that there is not another way than killing the pregnant woman in order to save others and thus it is morally better for us to die than do the “little” evil of killing one person in order to save others, because the death of others would mean a “greater” evil than killing one person. I do not believe in little evil. Not even a little bit. Not even the smallest evil. Evil is always evil. Once I deplete all other options then the only one is to die in order to not do any small evil. I often ask whoat would Jesus do? Would he kill an innocent person in order to save others? The result would of course be the death of all people in the cave, instead of just a one.
As a social care worker I often deal with a dilemma of letting or not letting people with mental illness hurt themselves – this depends on opinion. One can stop someone from hurting himself by using a straitjacket or one can let him hurt himself because free choice is the most important asset of humans. Both options can be morally justified if are done with the intention of helping those people. Which option is better depends then on experience. Debate about morality (one absolute choice- the best as proposed above) should not be mixed with the debate about the treatment of people with mental illnesses because this depends on knowledge about the problematics of mental disorders.