We see you confined in your wheelchairs. With your fragile bodies. Tubes and hoses are coming out of your mouths to help you breathe. You can barely move your limbs. It takes every fibre of your being to help you live.
We back off. Afraid. Not understanding your condition.
We see you with your missing limbs. Metal hooks replace your hands. Empty spaces where legs once were.
We are uncomfortable. Again, we back off.
We see you suffer from forms of mental illnesses. Depression. Anxiety. Talking to yourselves. Paralyzed by fears. Lost in your own little world.
We can not figure you out. It’s been said your illnesses are caused by some brain chemical imbalance which are not your fault.
But we are still afraid.
We see you homeless panhandling. We ask why? You can ask for money. Why can’t you ask for a job like the rest of us?
It may be not laziness. Maybe you have not learned to love and to be truly accepting of yourselves. Maybe you haven’t learned to assert yourselves. These are skills in themselves. They need to be taught.
We see you mentally challenged. Mother Nature has played a dirty trick on you. Are you happy? How can you lead a normal life? We are afraid to get close.
We see you old people with your frail bodies, slowly withering away. A burden to the health care system. If you think about it, we are all a burden to the health care system.
And, even though, getting old is not a disability, we still are slightly wary. Maybe it’s our reminder we will, one day, grow old and frail.
We should look to you for wisdom. You’ve lived our pain.
We see you with your handicaps. Your disabilities. Your aging bodies. Your deteriorating minds. There are a host of other ailments and conditions we could describe.
And we wonder: who’s the one with the disabilities?
It is not you with yours. It’s us with ours.
Ours lie between our ears, thick in our stubborn heads. With our prejudgements, our negative attitudes, our sweeping generalizations.
We cannot see beyond your hardships. We do not see for who you really are. Sensitive, caring, individuals capable of loving and being loved. With your hopes and your heartaches. With your faith and your doubts. And a need for purpose, a mission to live by. Just like the rest of us.
You just happen to have these noticeable and not so noticeable conditions.
You have a lot to offer. If only we’d be more open, more accepting and give you a chance.
It is our loss.
We are poorer for not accepting you, for not giving you that chance.
We need to be sensitive to your needs. We need to walk in your shoes.
We all have our crosses to bear. Ours are harder to overcome.
You see, we need to humble ourselves. And that’s hard for many of us. Pride, arrogance and,
yes …ignorance have gotten in the way.
As we see you with your disabilities, please be patient while we work on ours.
You’re not the ones with the disabilities.