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Being versus Doing

To believe that everyone has a gift, one must accept the essential humanity of our friends and relatives with disabilities. Humans are subjects, not objects. To be a subject is to interact with the world, to make a contribution, to have a gift. Unfortunately not everyone believes in the gifts of our friends and family members with a disability. To some, people with disabilities remain objects to be moved around at will. In the drive to “help” and “fix,” the interests, talents and contributions of our friends and loved ones often go unnoticed. They become people to whom things are done. They don’t do. They are viewed not as subjects but as objects.

Many of the programs and services available for people with disabilities operate from this false value base. This is why the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of people are ignored. And why the possibilities for pursuing their passion are left unexplored.

Humans have a drive to 'become'. We take pleasure in contributing, in doing our fair share, in being useful, in creating – in making a contribution.

Contribution can take two main forms. Contributions we make through our actions. And contributions we make by our very presence.

The first, perhaps pre-eminent gift is the gift of our presence. Simply by being present meaningful interaction, communion and fellowship is created. The exchange may be a helping hand, a spark of love, a moment of insight, the comfort of silence, a pleasurable experience, an inspiring interchange or a thrilling encounter. It would not have happened without your presence.

A second fundamental gift is the gift of our diversity, our difference. Difference creates meaning. If everyone were the same there would be no excitement, no mystery, no allure, no curiosity, no anticipation, and likely no desire, wonder, amazement, fascination, enchantment and inspiration.

Variety is truly the spice of life.

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