“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Responsibilities versus rights

In our current society, groups are clamoring for various rights. The disabled community is no different. Obviously some rights, such as the right to a public school education, should have been available much before 1979. However, as discussed in Phillip K. Howard's The Death of Common Sense, rights can get out of hand. My friend Dr. Rick Langer says that if you want to empower someone give them responsibilities not rights. As soon as I become dependent upon you everything changes. I will expect more of you, I will value you, I will actually need you to fulfill whatever it is that you are doing.

People with disabilities have long been in the position of being reliant upon those without disability to help them. It is those in the not-yet-disabled community who need a little dose of reality when it comes to dependence. I will admit that one of my biggest problems is recognizing my that my "strength" is an illusion in so many ways, particularly in relation to God. As DC Talk says, "the physical world creates a spiritual haze." It takes an effort on my part to see past myself to my utter dependence upon others.

I am also extremely dependent upon my wife Kathi, my children Josh and Amy, and so many others.

One looks upon someone with disability, particularly a severe physical disability and feels sorry for that person, at times because of their dependence upon others. I should look at such a person as I would look at a reflection in a mirror as that is who that person is. She is a physical example of a physical and spiritual reality. I do well to understand that reality.

But I also do well to empower such people by using their gifts within the church. One of the greatest things I can do as a Christian is to pray. People with severe physical disability, for example, have a tremendous opportunity to serve the church in this way (and others) if we will only value them, and also recognize our dependent situation that our strength is an illusion, and by example, our dependence on prayer.


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