Sensibility on Disability

Published on November 28, 2012

By Lunminthang Haokip

Ability Taken for Granted:  Hooked overtime on things we want to be left done and accomplished before we finally kick the bucket in this short sojourn on earth, we mortals seldom ponder over the undeserved favour from God that our mind can think sensibly, our legs can walk without limping, our hands are in order to take commands from the head and most important, that all these lived years, our hearts had ceaselessly been beating to save us from being declared as human-beens.

The value of being made whole with no disability is realised all the more when one stands only on one leg for a considerable span of time and the fortune of being endowed with a pair of seeing eyes counts most when a misfortune renders a full-tissue-d fellow a one-eyed Jack.

More PwDs Than Commonly Imagined: In India, we hear about healthy babies being stolen from hospitals only to be maimed and lamed by cruel goons with a vested interest to make them beg for gain on street corners and train stations later in life. Even otherwise, there is no dearth of PwDs – persons with disabilities – in any part of this cursed universe.

It is disturbing to learn that 15 percent of human population or 110 to 190 million people on earth are suffering disabilities of varying degrees. Half-ashamed to face the normal world, half-disgusted with their own state of being, and hoping against hope that sad days will end somehow someday, this massive marginalized populace of the fallen world, shying away from popular media-coverage, seek in their collective sub-consciousness to get equal opportunities in social and economic activities that life offers.

That folks they look up to get desired things done in their favour are too preoccupied with their own cares and worries to take heed of “insignificant” prodding, of course, is another tragic story.

Disability Not Out of Choice: PwDs being what they are, sometimes tend to cause irritation to those they literally rub shoulders with in public traffic. Common sense calls for empathy for the unfortunate lot whose right to move and express freely like others had been robbed by fate right from birth. But, more often than not, common sense is very uncommon.

The slightest nudge or an accidental touch due to infirm movements of PwDs in crowded places are responded with harsh abuses of the choicest kind. As if being born disable is not a burden enough, names are given to them in bad taste according to the nature of their suffering. Given the choice, who would like to be totally shut out from the glittering things of modernity, the wonderful sights and sounds of creation and be pushed around on a wheelchair for a lifetime?

Insensitive onlookers, with owlish nonchalance, add insult to injury by getting candid on questioning about the ugly side of a PwD’s plight beyond limits of the cushion of euphemism. Such thick-skinned buggers may be dubbed as DttR –Disable to talk Right.

Disability Not Due To Sin: During the time of Jesus, there was a blind man who had never seen the beauty of God’s creation or the faces of his loved ones. East, West or Middle-East, the basic human mental make-up is the same. A chorus of voices is quick to equate any encountered infirmity with sin. Those who draw such conclusion fail to use their heads for anything except to keep their earlobes apart.

God is the maker. He alone knows why some are born blind. No one else has the authority to pass judgement. When even the disciples of Jesus believed that either the blind man or his parents would have sinned, the Lord was quick to set the record straight, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:3).”

All physical problems stem out of our original common fall in Adam. Jesus caused the blind man to see. But the greater miracle was not the opening of the man’s eyes but the opening of his heart to the saviour.

Disadvantage PwDs: It’s said “imagination was given to man to console him for what he is, and a sense of humour, to compensate him for what he is not.” The wise adage is more applicable to a PwD. Put yourself in the place of a kid limping with artificial limbs or an adolescent taking irregular steps with crutches.

There is little else that such a person can do than stretch his capacity to imagine things he desires to do otherwise or cultivate a sense of humour to keep himself from a break-down in self pity. With his own eyes, he can see the rest of the world doing things they fancy.

But there he is, getting frequently unemployed, finding himself incapable of earning his own livelihood, sensing his own family members getting weary of him, being excluded from civil and political process and finding himself voiceless in the decision process of matters that affect him.

UN General Assembly’s Take on PwDs: Taking up the cudgels for PwDs, UN General Assembly proclaimed the year 1981 as “International Year of Disabled Persons” and continued to promote awareness of disability and the fundamental rights of PwDs under the following broad guiding principles:

  • Seek equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.
  • When PwDs are empowered to participate in and lead the process of development, the entire community will benefit.
  • It is important to integrate Disabled Persons to the mainstream of society.
  • A concerted effort must be given to fight discrimination against PwDs.
  • Society must take adequate steps to involve PwDs in social, political, economic and cultural activities.
  • It is essential to inculcate confidence in Disabled Persons in their own abilities to lead self-dependent living.
  • December 3 should be observed as World Disabled Day every year.
  • WDD provides an opportunity to initialize action to reach the target of full and equal pleasure of human rights and contribution in society by PwDs.
  • UN seeks equal rights for all humans irrespective of their religions, caste, economic conditions and physical abilities.
  • Social justice demands identical fundamental human rights to all persons.
  • WDD seeks measures to assist physically handicapped persons in their own decision-making.
  • The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international Human Rights instrument of the United Nations intended to protect the Rights and dignity of PwDs.
  • The text was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13th December, 2006.

The Directorate of Tribal Affairs & Hills will observe World Disabled Day at Kuki Inn, Imphal on December 3, 2012 with hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister Shri Gaikhangam as the chief guest, hon’ble Parliamentary Secretary Shri Victor keishing as the president and Shri Yamthong Haokip, hon’ble MLA, as the special guest.

Reproduced below is this obscure pen-pusher’s own poetic take on DPs whose varied talents earned them a new name –Differently Abled.

GOD LOVES YOU (Theme song for WDD)

1. Never say brother, you cannot hear,

For God in your mind His thought can share;

Never say sister, you cannot see,

He blinds some that they may see better;

Ear or no ear, eye or no eye,

Who hears Him and mourns deep shall not die.

       Coz you can’t hear, God puts inner ear,

       Coz you can’t see, your mind’s made to peer;

       Coz you can’t speak, hand-signs do the trick,

       Coz you can’t walk, help isn’t far to seek;

       For all pangs of woe infirm limbs bore,

       Don’t feel bad, God loves you all the more.

2. He gives ears that we may hear His Word,

He makes mind that we may know He’s Lord;

He creates hands that all men may serve Him,

He gifts hearts that ev’ry soul may love Him;

But we end up doing things not noble,

So, to do good, we are disable.

3. This terse life on earth is but a test,

We curse fate, yet what He does is best;

Some get it good now to rue later,

Some are sad to rejoice thereafter;

If God makes you suffer to the core

Today, it’s coz He loves you all the more.

4. For them who have new life in Christ,

Tho’ they’re now denied limb-movement free,

More than they that, with no thought of Christ,

Move limbs at will, blessed they shall be;

So, don’t you feel sadly ill-at-ease,

One day your suffering shall come to cease.

The writer is Indian Administrative Officer posted in the state of Manipur.

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