Regardless of whether it is a sudden sickness, fever, or an accident, a disability forces a person to face a new reality. No longer the same, he or she has to tackle the impediments that bind and overcome the barriers that appear on his or her horizon. A person in such a situation is labeled disabled.
In 1770, an infant born a musical genius would write compositions that are eternal, during the most debilitating times of his life. The external sounds of his music evaded him, but the emotion: the sway: the expression: was within him. He was deaf.
In 1847, the last child of a family of nine was born. Thought to be addlepated, stupid and unable to learn, his teacher sent him home. He was deaf.
In 1880, a healthy infant entered into the world. That circumstances out of her parents control would render them helpless nineteen months later was inconceivable. The baby became ill and suffered irreversible consequences that forced her into a world of silence and darkness. She was deaf and blind.
In 1930, in Albany, Georgia, an infant in the Deep South came into the world with two healthy eyes. At the age of 5, glaucoma developed in both eyes. At the age of seven, he was blind.
Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas A. Edison, Helen Keller, and Ray Charles Robinson all have a common denominator. At some point in their young lives, they met with a severe adversity that changed their lives forever: an adversity they had to come to grips with and learn to overcome, by dealing with the demons within, in order to achieve the impossible. These four people showcase the outstanding achievements of what society labels, The Disabled.
These were people who had been strapped down with unbelievable difficulties, and yet, they were among the highest achievers in a world that boasted on a theory that was sickening––only the strong survive.
Disabled people excel in all areas of life. For them, pity is not an advantage or a privilege. They do not usually look for favors; they just want the opportunity to exercise their talents––fulfilling their purpose in life.
Distorted visions and views of perfection and beauty cause societies to exclude the disabled in the cultural diversification process. Sure, we are quick to point out the Para Olympics, or the special games, and education programs designed for people with disabilities. However, these smart and ingenious people are often overlooked in the global community, due to the restricted conception about the role of diversification in the workplace: in sports: and even in marriage.
Do we arrogantly applaud what we think is beautiful?
Have we become ignorant of the road that perfectionism leads us upon?
What does it take to remind us that the precious entity within us that gives us life does not mitigate out of family status, or physical looks, or high financial net worth?
If that were so, then many of us would be the happiest people in the world, but are we?
Life is a journey. The stack of cards issued to each one of us is faced down, and none of us get the chance to view them beforehand. The adversities presented are not by choice. Thus, it is always surprising to see people with disabilities do what many abled body people consider as impossible. They have learned to cope with the adversities as they discover their reason for living. Their strength comes from within, and they rise to the challenge. There are no how to books for the disabled; it is discipline and perseverance that make them overcomers. Besides, books about coping and adjusting to a disability always appear after the fact and are usually based on the documentation of those who have had to face the wind and excelled by learning to incorporate their impediment into their way of life.
Yet, disabled people, some with no limbs, some stunted and marked by insufficient growth of arms and legs, others with visual impairments, and then others with hearing loss, or the inability to move their arms or legs, and some even with quadriplegic paralyzation continue to grow and become major contributors in societies all over the globe.
Where would we be if Dr. Charles Richard Drew had not discovered blood plasma and founded the blood bank? How would we be transporting refrigerated foods, if it had not been for Frederick McKinley Jones? Would we have ever heard the dynamic bass voice of Thomas Quasthoff, or marvel at the melodic tenor of Andrea Bocelli, a man that came into the world with poor eyesight and was blind at the age of 12? Would we know the inner torture of the deaf, if we had not seen Marlee Matlin, who was the first deaf actress to win the Academy Award for the film Children Of A Lesser God? Marlee Matlin was deaf at eighteen months of age.
Think of John Milton, Albert Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Alice Walker, Stephen Hawking, Marla Runyan, Tanni Carys Davina Grey-Thompson, O. J. Brigance, Nick Vulciji, Derrick Coleman, and others, who rose or have risen above their disability to become stalwarts in the global community, and dared or dare to succeed. These are the people who know that it is not the strong that survive, but rather those that are willing to face their disability and overcome. Some of them now living, some of them now dead, but they all have risen or rose above their tragic adversity, and they have moved or moved forward.
Therefore, it is reassuring to know that scientists like Charles Darwin made great errors. For if Darwin’s philosophy had become the way of intellectual thought and political handling, the disabled would not have had the right to live, and who knows when the light bulb would have been discovered, or many of the other inventions that were founded by people who were and are disabled. I shudder to think of where we might be.
The Disabled ––people that master life circumstances as they deal with the unexpected adversity handed to them.
The Disabled––people who look for cultural acceptance in a world that is becoming more and more diversified.
The Disabled––people who enrich the global community.
If we wish to unite as human beings and achieve global diversification in its highest form, then one of the first steps toward this social integration is the acceptance and recognition of the shadow society we call The Disabled.