THE WAY PEOPLE TREAT me and call me "a disabled" makes me think I am really different, it makes me think I am less human, it makes me feel rejected and dejected. Do I belong to the human world? In trying to answer this question, I found out that I rightly belong here, the difference is just functional. I am differently able.
I am able to do something, may be different from the way you do yours or the way you expect me to do it, but the fact remains that I am "able" to do something. It may not even be a half of what you do, but at least one thing among everything, as it is obvious that nobody does everything.
If disability is the inability to do something, then every one of us, because of our limited nature, lacks one thing or the other. If disability is the inability to do one thing or more, then anyone who is unable to do one thing or more, is a disabled. In that case, it could be argued that anyone who is unable to read or write is disabled. If disability is the inability to perform a physical or intellectual activity, then a baby or an old person who cannot physically or intellectually perform a certain activity would fall into the same category of the disabled. If taken to the spiritual level, one who is not able to make things happen spiritually is spiritually disabled. But we know that it is not the case, these are false arguments and conclusions.
Some tell me that my case is different, it is a permanent impediment. I laugh at them because if that is the case, any analphabetic who remains as such till his or her old age could be regarded as a disabled, since in the person's case, analphabetism has become permanent, and by extension, our forefathers who could not read or write until their death could be referred to as disabled. A fallacy this is; it is not the case. And if that is not the case, why then am I tagged "disabled?"
Again they respond that I am different from the normal child. Though I do not know who sets the norm or who determines the normalcy of a child, one sure thing is that it lies with the creator or the created. But that is by the way. And I ask them: "So the problem is being different?" Is any child who is different from the others disabled? They say, "No, not exactly, there is a substantial difference."
A substantial difference! A substance! That which makes a thing what it is, that fundamental element on which a thing is built on! I ask, a substantial matter, or a substantial form, which I have like every other person? I have both the substance and accidents like others. I have a body and a soul like you. I am also endowed with psychological and emotional faculties. Then where is the substantial difference? I know also that one day I will die; likewise you. Then what is the difference?
They said that my endowments are not functional, that I have hands and legs that are not efficient. I have a brain that is not very active. I lack coordination. They say I am an autistic child, a child in my own world, and almost dependent forever. With "cerebral palsy," they say I am uncontrollable, and lack coordination, then accompanied by sicknesses. Being classified as "down syndrome," I cannot learn adequately and so on. In short, they say I have many organs that are not functional. Then I understood the problem: it is a functional difference. I have organs like them, but mine are either not functioning at all, or that they do not function according to the acknowledged societal standard.
Apart from the scientific advancement and the societal demand, what need has a fowl for an incubator? You can walk and I cannot, you read and I do not, you act moderately and I act uncontrollably or strangely, for that you do not understand me. Your inability to understand me should challenge you to put more effort into helping me instead of denigrating me. If you are better endowed than me, then you should understand me better. If you are strong and I am weak, then you should protect me and not eliminate me.
However, you should know that existence here on earth "is a stage where actors play their different roles." Even the spectators play their roles by watching and commenting. I am playing my own role in this condition. It is not a permanent condition as you think because after playing my role, I will leave the stage and you will also quit. Then we shall meet for the evaluation. So the difference as you can see is only functional. It may have been you! I never asked to be born. No one did.
Furthermore, life is such an unsure reality; you cannot be sure of the next role to play. You may come to the stage very sound, and presumably complete, but meeting with harsh realities and certain terrestrial factors, such as sickness, accidents, and other influences either natural or artificial, you find yourself playing a different role. For example, sickness or old age or accident can bring you to play my role, and in that moment people will treat you differently, may be better than the so called "disabled." Pray it is not worse! So, my dear, be wise. Do not discriminate, do not oppress or supress me, for it may have been you in my condition. I am like this so that you will be as you are. But still I am unique and special in my nature, just like you. So treat me specially for it is just a functional difference. Substantially, we are the same, with the same human substance. Accidentally we vary, with our various endowments. And functionally we differ because of our different capacities and roles. So it is just a functional difference. I need to be loved, respected and cherished.
-REV. FR NATHAN ANUKAM