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Valuing human flourishing

In this video, different people with disabilities describe what it means for them to live a good life.
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(GENTLE MUSIC)
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ANTONI: For me, personally, having a good life is having a supportive family. Having a good life is when you can have a good education, as high as education as possible. But what I really would like to emphasise here is that, for most people, disability is like - including myself - having a good life is when society can accommodate you. I mean, can accept you. I mean, like, can… We’re counted as part of the society who have equal rights, who have equal responsibilities, like, a part of human diversity.
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DUNCAN: I think sometimes people get a little bit worried about protecting their good life or their way of life. You know, is one’s good life a good life to the detriment of someone else’s life or to their quality of living. I suppose my answer would be no, because I think we can all live together and try and support everyone else. And, for me, I think helping other people is part of the good life.
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STEVE: A good life, to me, is not to take your body for granted and love yourself unconditionally. I think that’s a good life. And taking everything in. And feeling everything, going for a simple walk, drinking your tea, drinking your coffee, sitting down and just, like, taking everything in.
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JORDANNA: Everyday living, I need access to communication. Auslan is one way. Pen and paper is another way. Sometimes the littlest things can give me access, especially when I’m ordering coffee, for example. I’ve got a coffee shop next to my work who I go to regularly, and there’s a guy there who can sign. And, you know, I always ask for a cappuccino in sign language, and that guy understands what I’m saying.
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VIVIENNE: A good life is being happy. To be happy, one has to look at their disability as a challenge or a game to be played. I pity able-bodied people who are not conscious of the victory of successfully picking up a piece of paper off the floor or doing up a seatbelt. There are so many challenges and victories to rejoice over. Every small victory should be a joy.
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DUNCAN: You’re constantly told that your disability is, you know, infringing upon you having a good life. And, I suppose, you know, it’s a big ‘what if?’ - what my life would be like if my vision hadn’t degenerated when I was 18. But because my vision’s degenerated, I’ve now got a career. I’m quite happy with my career in terms of the successes that it’s had, and without my vision impairment, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s part of me, but it’s also, um… ..it’s one of those things that has contributed to me having a good life.
Throughout this course, we have been thinking about what living a good life means to us as individuals.
In Week 1, we came up with ideas such as caring, inter-dependence, truthfulness, belonging, meaningfulness, respect, dignity and intimacy. The concept of flourishing also resonated with many of us.
In each of our everyday lives we negotiate these different values. But the outcome is also dependent on the different constraints in our lives and the kinds of power we have over making choices. As illuminated by some of the examples from this course, the values of independence, choice and control are seen as important to achieving a good life by many people with disabilities. And as you saw in Week 3, many of the disability campaigns and rights movements have been directed at increasing the power of people with disabilities and removing barriers to exercising these values.
portraits of the five guest speakers, laughing and smiling
While making this course, we asked our guest presenters — Antoni, Duncan, Steve, Jordanna and Vivienne — to reflect on their ideas of a good life as they relate to values like independence and inter-dependence, reason and emotion, and choice and control. In the video above, they share their responses.
A link to an audio description of this video is available in the See Also section below.

Talking points

Reflect on the video, and consider the following questions:
  • What are some of the ingredients that make up a good life for these presenters?
  • What kind of emphasis do the presenters in the film give to values like choice, control and independence? Are there other values they mention?
  • How does disability feature in their understandings of a good life?
  • In thinking about a good life, how much emphasis do they give to the importance of external barriers or factors, and how much to the impact of their individual situations?
Expand your interests — We encourage you to share your personal strategies for living a good life in Step: 6.9: Personal strategies for living a good life.
In the next step we reflect on these stories and introduce the week.
This article is from the free online

Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

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