“There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.” - Anonymous
Why do many of us feel uncomfortable around those with disabilities?
Perhaps we live in a world that rates perfection above all else, and so we strive to achieve this in the way we look, dress, and act. As a result, our points of view are often shaped around bigoted ideas, and a slightly unrealistic view, where difference is often seen as something to be shunned or to be embarrassed about.
People who have disabilities, whether mental or physical, really want you to see the person and not the disability. Try not to feel embarrassed, helpless or guilty, and instead think of them as ‘differently-abled,’ and certainly worthy of being your time and friendship.
Recently in Zurich, Switzerland, a store owner put this into practice. He wanted to draw attention to, and acceptance of people with disabilities, and he did so in a way that was both admirable and effective. With the help of a group of very brave people with various physical disabilities, he had them measured up and re-created as mannequins to be displayed in his shop window. He dressed them in designer clothes, and placed them in between the other mannequins. Passers-by were astonished by the mannequins dressed in the latest fashions, and looking every bit as good as the other mannequins. The idea behind this venture was to provoke reflection on the acceptance of those with disabilities, and to this end it was very successful. For the disabled people involved - it gave them a platform and a voice.
To me, this thought provoking campaign highlights the fact that we all have imperfections - inside or out, and it is these which truly make us unique. We live in an imperfect world, where sometimes we have to see things as they are and not always as we want them to be. To learn to be tolerant and compassionate means you will conduct yourself in this world with accepting others. Surely this is what we should strive to be.