March 1st, 2019
Disability Day of Mourning is here again, and filicides continue. Again, we remember people we’ve lost and hope for a year when no names are added to the list. Again, we remember the dead who may not have many outside of the disability community to look back on them fondly. Again, we reflect on the many good years they lost. Most of them were very young. Again, we consider what we, the living, lost by their deaths. The ones we lost were mostly children who might have grown up to engage with the disability community. Now, we will never know them.
We, the living, also lose by fear, by stress, by the pressure these killings and other manifestations of ableism put on us to constantly prove our full humanity and justify the value of our lives. Filicide, and the way in which apologists for it come out of the woodwork to justify it when it takes place, is, after all, just an extreme iteration of the background ableism that exists in society every day. The shadow of these killings, the stigma placed on needing help or owning up to disability, being perceived as a burden, and potential exclusion from everything from social belonging to adequate healthcare drive too many people with disabilities to constantly try to prove their utility in all aspects of their lives. Instead of staying in the workplace, where that kind of thinking may belong, many try to be constantly useful everywhere, at all times, to the detriment of their health and relationships. This pressure cuts across the lines of degree of support needs, class, race, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion to trouble much of the disability community.
It will only leave us, and filicides will only stop, when we recognize the intrinsic value of every human being and make our communities truly inclusive. Only then will vulnerable people consistently have the kinds of relationships that will lead someone to step in if something looks amiss with a caregiver and every opportunity to be heard and believed when they need to report abuse. We can help the most vulnerable people resist this kind of senseless violence, but we have to care about them and prioritize them in the way we only will when we value their lives equally with all other human lives first. If we want filicide to stop, we have to decide once and for all that there is more to life than being conventionally useful.