Of this I am convinced: When people see or hear of individuals with disabilities, many still develop a prejudice because of fear and a lack of understanding of what it truly means for an individual to possess a disability. We are in a modern century, but some prejudices still exist, even though there have been several attempts to eliminate them over time. We consider it just to get rid of these judgments, but there is still much work to be done.
In living with my brother who has Down Syndrome, and by working in a residence with individuals who possess different forms of disabilities or special needs, I learned that somewhere in our human interactions, there developed a basis to believe that people with disabilities are irrelevant. I believe that this hatred or fear comes from a vantage point where the person without a disability is reminded of a brokenness that exists within him or her. This brokenness can be very painful because it shows how we human beings are not perfect. Hence, we knowingly or unknowingly hurt those people who remind us of our brokenness. Which should not be the case if we only know and experience how God loves each of us regardless of our limitations and strengths. I realize that these limitations inasmuch as our strengths are a part of us but they do not really define who we are. People with disabilities can be the most simple and amazing individuals who are also living these circumstances. Our relationships with each other do not only involve the finite but more importantly, the infinite lay hidden in many of the limitations we struggle with. I learned this through an experience with one of our residents with whom I worked and how I was truly blessed to have her in my life.
One day, when I was coming to work, I was running a little bit late and it just seemed like a very difficult day. At the time I was working at a residence called Martini. So when I got to work, I went into the kitchen, was about to start my normal routine and I heard a voice. It was from a woman, who had an amazing spirit and was very outspoken. She had asked me where I was and why I had arrived late. I spoke with her and then she started to laugh and said, “I missed you, and I’m happy that you are here.” You could understand my amazement, but I was really struck by her. In that instance, I understood that she, like everybody else, had this need or desire to be loved and to give back love. Such need and desire had nothing to with her disability but with her humanity. I am grateful for these beautiful encounters because they remind me how much I am loved by God. I pray one day that this world will live without these prejudices and that all people will cease to care about these limitations and instead value the dignity that God has placed in each of us. Such dignity is much greater than the brokenness that exists in every human being, whether or not he or she possesses a disability. Our limitations have no bearing on our humanity, and God will always love us for who we are, regardless of our limitations and strengths. This much I have come to realize and live by every day of my life. Amen and praise be to the Lord.
William Looby currently works at Direct Care Professional for the Guild of
Exceptional Children in Brooklyn. As a Direct Care Professional, William has an extensive experience in working with individuals with special needs that range from the most severe disability such as Fragile X to the least severe such as Down Syndrome. He has an amazing and inspiring brother, Marshall Looby who has Down Syndrome. William himself directly assisted his parents in caring for Marshall especially during his early intervention years.
LET US PRAY
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command. Amen
Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle;
the strength to be forgiving;
the patience to be understanding;
and the endurance to accept the consequences
of holding to what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in the power of good
to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see
and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence,
a new world where fear shall no longer lead human beings to commit injustice,
nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy
to the task of making peace,
praying always for the inspiration and the power
to fulfill the destiny for which we and your entire creation were created. Amen
Hail Mary …
Our Father …
Glory be …