Blaming Individuals

I have been thinking about the subtle ways in which ableism exists in our society. One thing I recalled was the difficulty of getting people to understand that not everyone could go without plastic straws. Abled persons suggested there were other choices, but there were members of the disabled community for whom those things didn’t work.

One of the issues of the plastic straw bans is that plastic straws make up such a miniscule portion of the pollution in the world. Plastic water bottles make up much more. But even the problem of plastic bottles pales in comparison to the pollution from a handful of huge corporations.

And that’s the issue. Individuals are being required to change, a burden that falls disproportionately on those who are already disabled, and corporations are not penalized at all for their lack of effort. It seems wrong that individuals are shamed for not being able to do something they physically cannot do when corporations don’t even get noticed for doing something a million times worse.

Here’s the thing. Companies aren’t typically disabled. While the owners and share holders may cry about the problems new legislation causes, none of them are going to go homeless or hungry. Their survival does not become exponentially more difficult. It is much easier to make companies conform than individuals who all have different needs and abilities.

I am tired of people who often work the hardest just to survive having to shoulder an unfair amount of the burden of the changes that can be made to make the world a better place while those who can most easily make those changes refuse to.

I don’t mean to make this political. I mean to make this about awareness. Everyone has different issues. Some of them are invisible to others. Some of them are visible and there are ways in which these things can be helped, but may not be environmentally sound. The problem isn’t the individual who needs a plastic straw or precut vegetables or even a water bottle. The problem is larger than that and that’s where we need to focus.

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