I had travelled to The Cheshire Home as a part of the annual social services. What I witnessed there was bound to change my life, as far as it extended.
Rarely has the world been kind to the downtrodden, the marginalized and the different. Perpetually viewed as unfortunate on a subconscious basis, the differently-abled citizens of our society have always suffered considerable discrimination at the hands of society in the form of lack of accessibility, respect and above all, being alienated from society at large.
We have continuously discerned their lack of ability as that which plagues their progress, whereas it is our inability as a society to make allowance for their inclusion in the society we share. After all, what good is progress for mankind if it does not end up making all of mankind a part of the world?
If given a choice, they would not choose to be disabled. They would never choose to sacrifice their ability to explore the ethereal feeling of travelling the world on foot or to give up their ability to see the marvels of the world, to unravel the auditory mysteries of nature and to live in the way everyone else does. Their disability is not their choice and because of societal norms, neither is their identity.
This is my plea to the world- Do not confine their identity to their ability to move or to see or to hear or speak or do anything identified as ‘normal’. They identify as humans, by virtue of which their entitlement exceeds natural equality. They deserve the very opportunities that you and I do. They deserve to take the trains you and I do. They deserve to go to the malls that you and I do. They deserve to be perceived as equals, as I do. They deserve their share in society, just like you and me.
Their need to be helped is met with our sympathy, instead of our pride in being human. They do not need our pity, but our support in being equals in society. Their requisite is accessibility, not sympathy. Their cry is to be one of us and not just observe us from the sidelines. They are willing participants but restrained contestants. It is our duty to change that. It is our duty to make them a part of us. It is our societal responsibility to provide them with the opportunities to rise and shine, in the ways that we do.
We have this one life. Let us not weigh our abilities against one another. Let us use all of them to build a better, brighter future for our society.