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Advent #3: Day of People with Disabilities

On the 'International Day of People with Disabilities' some thoughts that could be quite demanding to read - which seems appropriate given the importance of the day. (The text is also inserted as an audio file)

My son has Alström syndrome, among other things, he has a visual impairment and is therefore almost blind. Ben has much less time to conquer the world and he needs much more competence to achieve his goals, to learn to shape his life.

My son evokes compassion (and that's good), but what he demands– like everyone else with special characteristics – is respect and recognition. And that means checking your own attitude and attitude.

Let me also put it another way:

Many of us have read Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Little Princes. Most (even those who have not read the whole book) like to quote the simple attitude that the author calls a secret:

You only see well with your heart. The essentials are invisible to the eyes.

So I close my eyes when I walk two streets with my son, hear the city noise fade (did I mention that it's part of the disease to lose hearing too?) or just listen to the silence.

I will never have his experiences, but I will learn to understand them with all my possibilities if I can see with my heart.

This results in the requirement for all of us to shape our world and our environment in such a way that it does justice to us as different individuals with different potentials and possibilities.

Together with my son, I want to look again and again where we have our values and laws, but ‘criminally’ neglect them in their implementation; so ‘criminally’ neglect that they often become insurmountable obstacles for those affected.

Ben always amazes me and sparks my enthusiasm when he shows with what naturalness he moves in this world full of obstacles, with which unimaginable achievements he pursues his goals (learns to play the piano – one hand on the piano, the other in the Braille music book, for example) and with what patience he acquires the necessary skills.

Well: this conquest of the world with my son also makes me impatient with us adults or our standardised world. Statistically speaking, we – in Europe – live in prosperity, in democracy and like to demand our freedoms and our needs as a matter of course.

I sometimes wonder if we have this "I have the right to ...." have forgotten that justice always looks a little different from the perspective of others. We demand equality, equal treatment and equality.

We demand equal opportunities and must take note of the fact that it cannot be the right of the loudest to get this EQUAL, but that we can only achieve this together.

But to understand this, we need to engage with the others who are not drifting in the mainstream, understand other perspectives, and work together on the changes. And then we will understand that the mainstream does not exist, and we all have our peculiarities and our society should do justice to all these special people."

If we approach this, let us implement it, every day, in our attitudes and actions.


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