A number of stories crossed my desk recently that made me think about how our culture assigns value to people and how this disadvantages families of children with disabilities.
First I read this New York Times piece about how we tend to equate a person’s income with their inner worth: You are the money you make.
Then I read this study that uses the 2010 Ohio Family Health Survey to look at differences in financial and psychological stress levels between parents caring for children with and without disabilities.
Those caring for children with behavioural, emotional or developmental problems were almost two times as likely to have problems paying for medical bills; twice as likely to be unable to pay for basic essentials; and 1.7 times as likely to have used up personal savings.
They're facing two cultural stigmas: The idea that disability somehow reduces a person’s value, and the notion that reduced income, as noted above, further erodes one's worth.
Hoffman quickly discredits the idea that happiness is pleasure. “I would definitely say pleasure is not happiness,” he says. “There is no pleasure that I haven’t actually made myself sick on.
To which Critchley suggests that happiness isn’t something internal or something we can stockpile, like money, but that “it lies without. I think it lies in our very specific relationships with people.”