Is necessary to believe in sacraments or is an open heart enough? Is it really necessary to be of Catholic faith? Not every Catholic is good, but I think that everyone who is good is inevitably a Catholic – following Christs teaching. If you fulfill all religious prescripts but do not have faith, you are nothing. if you have faith, love, God-like consciense-daimonion, voice of the heart and fulfill no prescript, then you are with God. Until one does not know that something is good and something is bad (sometimes sin is doing something, but sometimes not doing, or doing nothing) then one is not quilty of such a thing. Once one knows teaching of Jesus Christ and does not accept it, then he sins because logically, it is not possible to go against teaching of Jesus – it is the highest principle even for nonbelievers. These prescripts are not outer but inner- they come from our selves, from our essence, they are not given by anybody, not even by Jesus, he came to be sacrificed for us, but he did not tell us anything new-all he said is something we would know if we had opened hearts. Through words and sincerity we arrive at the consensus that doing good is the highest human principle. Its all about choice, I cannot persuade you that something is wrong, I am not God, I do not know it for sure, maybe you can kill with a good intention, I do not know. I cannot say about concrete people or concrete situations that are either good or bad, but I can say for sure abstractly that something is wrong, evil and something right,good. What I say you either take as right and maybe not and maybe you are right in not believeing what I say-that killing someone or sex for pleasure is sin. But if one looks into one´s heart then one sees what is right and what is wrong. Sex for pleasure is very evilish thing to do, although people my disagree with it. I cannot say about concrete people or situation that something is wrong-only the protagonist can say so. It all goes back to an individual conscience. Some things on the other hand are definitely wrong. For example to kill somebody – because by killing somebody I hurt people. What is worse is that I hurt myself and damn myself. The killed one does not sin, but sin is worse than death. To die is not as bad as to die badly – in sin. What if someone sins and does not know it? Euthanasia for example may be considered a murder but may not. Hurting myself, although not doing anything evil to others is the worst thing one can do. Once I know that I hurt myself I must refrain from doing it. Other things may be more ambigous. For example masturbation – can there be a good masturbation? I do not think so, because masturbation is predominantly for my ego, my pleasure. Physical pleasure belongs only to marriage and love making with and for God´s glory. To know that something is wrong, I do not need any experience. For example lynching of people (blacks in the US history of the slave system) is wrong obviously, but what about people that do not know it? Is it possible to not know it? Hurting other always carries with it the knowledge, otherwise one would not hurt other if it did not somehow make it an egoistical pleasurable feeling. Thus one does not need any exprience to know that it is wrong. Such a damage can be very often seen in marriage that use contraception. It hurts me much, that people do not want at least to think about such things and its consequences. Maybe I am wrong,maybe contraception helps in a relationship, I do not want to be dogmatic, on the other hand – I want to be opened to everything, but have not seen up to now that contraception or anything like that could lead to a happy relationship. Golden rule says : do unto other what you want them to do to you. Does a woman want to be used anytime man want her, or should she rather follow her natural biorytmus? This is the question everyone should be willing to answer with a clear conscience.
My essay is based on my own perception and experience within my nation and my perception of identity. I would like to conduct a research about what my nationality is based on and what actually nationality is, what it is influenced and formed by. This essay has two parts – first part concerned with race and nation and the other part is about my own perception of my identity and nationality. I will compare my nation, my culture, define those terms in terms of my own experience and compare my seeing of Czechs with cultures and citizens of other nations. I will take Zizek´s, Anderson´s and Hobsbawn´s ideas and opinions into account.
Before I come to examining my culture and my nation I shall at first denote what nation and race is. Is there anything like a race? For example black people are not different from us apart of the colour of their skin but this is only a physiological feature and does not influence anything else so that judging people according to their colour is superficial because there is no inner difference between a white person and a black person. Now just to be able to cope with race and nationality I should cite a paragraph about main problems with nationalism. Theorists of nationalism, Anderson says, have first to deal with these three paradoxes:
(1) The objective modernity of nations to the historian´s eye vs. Their subjective antiquity in the eyes of nationalists. (2) The formal universality of nationality as socio-cultural concept- in the modern world everyone can, should, will have a nationality, as he or she has a gender – vs.the irremediable particularity of its concrete manifestations, such that by definition Greek- nationlity sui generis. (3) The political power of nationalism vs. Their philosophical poverty and even incoherence.
It may be said that nationality is an invention and that there is no boundary where one nation begins and other ends. Just to ilustrate how vague the term nationlity is I would like to draw a parallel to race. Although Johann Friedrich Blumenbach distinguished five races which were recognised as generally believed truths, his theory was not flawless. Nobody fits perfectly into these five races and efforts to generalize people under one race led to racism and segration of black people in North America – they were unable to distinguish perfectly between black and white and thus established one drop rule. By saying this I do not want to talk about atrocities of racism, I just want to depict instability and impropriety of the term race and subsequently nation. One drop rule actually made everyone, whose ancestry was in any measure of black origin, black race. Now how many of ancestors make one black or white or Czech or German? In my opinion this all is actually arbitrary. If skin does not matter, what does then? Is colour of our skin important for us anymore? When dealing with colour of skin one would say that it has no other meaning that appearance and thus having a tinge of superficiality. It seems to me that it is important in a way of Zizek´s concept of cosa nostra. A way to belong somewhere. Having a Thing (race – colour of skin and subsequently nationality) one can posess and rely on, as Zizek claims about nation:
National identification is by definition sustanied by a relationship toward the Nation qua Thing. This Nation-Thing is determined by series of contradictoryr properties. It appears to us that ”our thing” (perhaps we could say cosa nostra), as something accesible only to us, as something they, the others, cannot grasp, but which is none the less constantly menaced by them.
Basically what Zizek says is that there is some kind of thing which is ours, and not theirs, but only ours, this thing is essential for our being and identity and is threated, which is very imporant. Can a colour of my skin be threatened? I do not think so, the colour of skin is a fact, but what my race or nation is, is not fact but an arbitrary issue. Thus it is not possible to base my identity upon colour of my skin because every white humans would have the same identity. We can of course come to a conclusion that there are shades of black and the spectrum between white and black is infinite but this is a very subjective and relative notion which is not a relevant issue for me right now. Zizek says that we cannot precisely describe or say what this thing is. To me it seems that such thing must be arbitrary, consesual, something a group of people or society must agree upon and not something which is given (as for example colour of skin). Now I have come to a conclusion that nation and race are relative and related terms and it might be even said that race is a human invention and should the term cease to exist it would make no difference to our world because human originated probably somewhere in Africa and thus there is probably one common ancestor. In my point of view race is not a relevant issue when dealing with ability to improve or change, whereas nation can and should improve, develop or change. I believe that saying generally about race anything comes to racism (segragation on the ground that black people are inferior and white superior to them – had no basis) and has no solid ground whereas saying anything about nation is, I think, relevant. It cannot be said generally (but rather saying that most of the people of one state or nation) but I pereceive it as relevant argument, that for example Germans, Japanese or Jews are hardworking, and inventive – see the number of Nobel prizes for Germans and German descendants in America or Jews as opposed to Muslims – nice indicator of distinction between Jews and Muslims – though of course not entirely objective may be seen in the possesion of Nobel prizes. There is approximately 12 milions of Jews and 1.4 billion of Muslim (ratio 117:1). Jews have 170 prizes whereas Muslims only 9. According to the ratio there should be 22 260 Prizes among Muslims. This illustration is not given in order to discredit Muslims but rather to emphasize that feeling of belonging to a Jewish descent means being open to new things and developments. Germans are hardworking because they are educated so (our predescesers were working hard so now you have to do so as well). Problems with Gipsy nation come not from them being intrinsically indolent and hardly adaptable but rather from their being used to it and having also such image in their parents. My teaching experience of Gipsy childern taught me that surrounding is more important than what is in my blood or race so to say. There might be some characteristic traits of a nation (but those are minimal in such general perspective), but Gipsy children when showed affection and an honest help are as just the same as white children. As a citizen of Czech republic and having (claiming) Czech nationality I can say that Czechs are cunning (more cunning that other nations so to say but mostly due to the outter conditions – factor of the recent regime of communism and here is already ground for development. Getting rid of past wounds of communism (being used to incredulity because of fear of false accusation) via education will lead to our nation and state becoming more civilized and less cunning (having no reason for that) that it is now. Of course saying that Czech politics are stupid or worst in the world is stupid in itself but it is obvious that German goverment is in my opinion less scandalous than ours – our politicians (chosen from people) are more cunning and thus more corrupt and prone to cheat than above mentioned Germans.
Concerning the term nation I will use definition given by Anderson:
It is an imagined political community – imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smammlest nation will never know most of their fellow-member, meet them or even hear of them, yet in the minds of eac h lives the image of their communion.
This applies to a nation and I sense that this is an image of my nation, my thing and it is important for the belief that I belong somewhere. Why is this feeling of belonging so important for people? I have always been biased against the thing of nation becuase it seemed to me that people are week if they need to belong somewhere – to a community or a nation in this context. Now I have come to a realisation that there must be a boundary between individuality and help from the community and hiding within a community. Aim of a community or nation lies in using everybody´s merits and abilities so that he/she contributes to the society and to help him get rid of his weakness and demerits in order to keep him in a working order, in other words use his potential and help him where he is unable to help to contribute or help himself. This is a theory of division of labour. Everyone should do what the one is good at and should be helped in things which he or she is not good at (social state, welfare). Anyway we still do not see clearly what cosa nostra is. As Zizek puts it, Our thing is something we must defend. To be able to defend anything I must first have an enemy which I know is dangerous for me. Is this Our thing a possesion? Something I can be robbed of? It seems to me that this cosa nostra issue is merely a superficiality, anxiety about losing something which I believe in, fear about destroying image of my idolatry. As mentioned above clinging to a nation seems to me only an alibistic view about the world. The need to hide myself behind a greater subject in order to hide my mistakes and weaknesses so that those do not come into light. Hiding ourselfes from new things makes us not conservative but conserved in blindess, unable to cope with new menaces so to say and develop via the clashes with those menaces. Sense of existance of an individuality is not in defending our imagined thing or idol but in defending what I believe is imporant and essential for my sake and sake of others and also knowing that my belief is relative as everything is (helps me to avoid radicalism). Being always opened to new issues and changes is congenitaly for pople unpleasant but without new incentives in my life which shape and form my confidence in myself I would be stucked in an imagined deceitfull picture of idolatry. This is precisely what I percieve as Our Thing – only a constructed untrue notion and perception about my life and lifes of others in the commmunity or nation. This is another reason (apart of damage made by communism) why I believe that most Czechs are cunning and suspective, we defend Our Thing – imagined or hoped picture of me belonging somewhere (for example being proud of consumption of beer in Czech republic being the highest in Europe) against people from different cultures. I believe that Czechs being cunning will relent through time and assimilation with other cultures and we will keep our true sense for culture – not clinging to an imagined community and trying to defeat anybody around but rather to be proud of real achievements of our predecessors (not for boasting but as a model of our behavious) our kings from medieval ages or saints and trying to keep their legacy live.
However, when someone can hate his nation, what features of the nation he hates. There must be some boundary between his nation and some other nation so that he can hate one feature of his nation and features of other nations or communities are alright for him. May it be that the one hates being possesed with the thing of his society and naturally clings to other thing? It seems to me that even hatred is a sign of weakness in the mind of an individual character not not being content with his own achievments and thus forcing his anger against other people (other cultures being the most easiest targets because one sees them as more succesful in coming to our country because the one would not dare come to their country). Hatred is just an another aspect or means of defeating every menace coming from an another nation in order to protect constructed image of my life or nation.
As above mentioned I have come a conclusion that physical features are of no importance to nation so that anybody can become a Czech. What forms my Czechness then? On one hnad, its not just a perception, I believe that alsoa recognition of others in a certain territory and confirmation of one´s status as a member of a nation is an important thing. It might be said that when more than 50 percept already recognized members of a nation affirm that black people may (if they want to ) be Czechs, althought they have no slavic origin and were not born in Czech republic, makes them citizens of Czech Republic and consequently Czechs indeed. If people were to chose their nation, they would have to have some features according to which they could make their decision and actually have criteria accroding to which they might as well dislike a nation. Nation has to be taken care of or it might fall apart, terminate. Hobsbawm describes Scotish tradition as following:
Today, whenever Scotchmen gather together to celebrate their national identity, they assert it openly by certain distinctive national apparatus. They wear a kilt, woven in a tartan whose colour and pattern indicates their clan; and if they indulge in music, their instrument is the bagpipe. This apparatus, to which they ascribe great antiguity, is in fact largely modern.
It is modern and provident to care about it – in modern terms care for what is old but in a new form – so that it may survive. Althought we do not dance in order to celebrate a harvest, we still should not forget about traditions of our predecessors. Folkore and costumes (in Czech kroje) are part of our culture, hereditary culture. Although the importance of folklore costumes does not lie in its difference – in order to distinguish inhabitants from one villiage to inhabitant from another, we still use it to celebrate significant events, at least symbolically. This distinction of costumes (every village has its own costume) seems quite interesting to me – it might hint at a need of human to belong as well to a small community – a village which has its own costume, and together with it to a larger part – nation, Czech republic in this case. It a paradox that on one hand one needs to belong to a community where he knows everybody (something like an extended family) and on the other hand one needs a sense of belonging to a larger (anonymous, as opposed to small group) part – as Anderson´s argumend mentioned above – imagined community. A question arises how big or large this imagined community – a nation has or can be? My surmise is that such geographical or demographical boundaries are not limited because of an abstract nature of the concept of nation. In my opinion I do not care so much about how many Czechs there are, but how many of them I can identify with. One of such identification traits or features is precisely the usage of costume here in South Moravia. Such tradition is important for me because it is a concrete trait of part of my own history. What then connects me to people in Bohemian? Is there a link between us? Next to the language which is arbitrary and a feeling about Czech nature being somewhat incredule and cunning I do not sense a deeper bond to someone further off from congregation of village where I live – thus not making a signifcant difference between a citizen from Czech republic – Czech or any other state, nation and I do not agree that Czechs should stick together on basis of some vague feeling or a need to belong to some greater part – this arises in racism, thinking that my race is superior or some other race inferior. Czechs should care for their cultural heritage not in order to keep it for themselves, but to enshrine it for future generations and also for people from outside of Czech republic. Importance of a nation (or tradition in my point of view) is in natural, congenital human need to belong somewhere, but this should not overgrow into affirming my position or my belonging via destroying position of someone else as was seen in history (for example Nazi German)
Now I have come to a notion of descent. Why is it so imporant? Is it also just peoples natural condition of need to belong, cling to something? I believe that my Czechness is not based on my origin or colour (as I am quarter German). It does not seem congruent to me that descent should play a major role in my perception of nation and my individuality within it.
To conclude with, I do believe, as mentioned above in a general characteristic which is found in the majority of people of a certain state but I do not believe and it does not seem to me that it is important to identify with it and be proud of it. I am for example proud of deeds of Charles IV.(his support for education – building of Charles university). But I do not need to boast with being the same descent. This need to belong or boast with someone else is , I believe, just human weakness which may end up in racism if one needs to belong to some abstract thought up, imagined community too much and wants to save this false picture at any cost. It is about whether I need to cling to a society (race, nation, community…) in order to be helped or whether I want to belong in order to teach myself and subsequently teach others so that everyone develops his or hers merits not dependently on a nation, but more generally on who contributes to a better world and who does not. I do recognize Czechs but do not need to boast about my Czechness (generally nation) as I do not see it more important than individual quality of a human being. I would also like to paraphrase Jan Neruda´s Charles´s IV notion about Czechs: he said that this wine is a little bit bitter but when you get used to it you begin to like it. This is a parallel to Czech nation – the exact thing I actually like about Czechs. Although we are cunning, I believe that Czechs when their first incredulity, shrewdness and suspiciousness (mostly due to the outter conditions – previous regime) is overcome, are in fact cordial and open minded people, as I believe I am.
Neruda, Jan. Ballady a Romance (1883). Romance o Karlu IV. http://users.ox.ac.uk/~tayl0010/ ballady.htm#karlu
Zizek, Slavoj. Eastern Europe´s Republics of Gilead. The Nation Thing.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Courier Companies Inc. 1983.
Hobsbawm, Eric. The Invention of Tradition. Inventing Traditions. Cambridge UP 1983.
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
Stanford experiment showed very vividly the difference between inferior and superior.
People given power are very prone to misuse it. The reason for this can be anything – usually physiological difference (even nowadays the “race” issue) – to make difference between dark and light skin, between blue and brown eyes. The issue at stake is not the inner-given difference between people, but how they cooperate with such issues. Saying that the difference which is given (inherent) makes someone more/less important is from its core a stupid one. Assets of human life which are given should never serve as a basis for distingushing people from one another (as M.L. King says in his I have a dream speech: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Opposite view leads to saying that man/woman are better, dark/light skin is beautiful and the other not, blue/brown-eyed people have pure blood, Jews/Germans etc – we have seen to what this has led. What makes human life worth living is not which asset is one born with, but how one uses these gifts in order to make the world a better place. What should be admired is not the “given” – beauty, strength, inteligence, color etc., but on the opposite – how is one capable of using these gifts and making good use of them. What makes human a human is not what and how he or she is born, but what he makes of him/herself. This shows that people formerly and even nowadays seen as inferior can and are capable of same aims and results as the ones formerly seen as superior – the issue at stake is not with what is one born, but what one makes of himself – matter of choice.
When thinking about affirmative action, one has to acknowledge that the reason for any such action is a reaction to the problems formerly unsolved. Positive discrimination is discrimination as well and one has to found a compromise about it, as Elliot claims, it is only a tentative solution. Race cannot function as a measurement for evaluation of humans – be it admitance into a university or anywhere else. The resolution in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke showed that racial quotas are unconstitutional and this should function both ways. When trying to uphold the black population because whites have these advantages already, one agains stresses the difference between races. Race, as opposed to social statues is an invented concept. I would say that there is not a problem with quotas, but with “racial” quotas, because there is no such thing as a race – one would have to make a boundary between white and black, it would be necessary to show how many white/black descendants are still making the one particular human black or white. Thus, quotas against any minority are a very awkward solution, if the authorities make difference between races and not social statuses. In my view, there should be positive discrimination for any minority, but such discrimination should not be based on any outer difference (be it color or anything else) but solely on their social situation – for example the addmitance to university should be made possible equally to those who are able to pay for it and also for those who are not.