REFLECTION: PWD PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 June 2014 11:32

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

That’s “persons with disability” or “people with disabilities.” We have to distinguish their many kinds if only to better know how to care for them. This is part of the new sensitivity we should develop as the world becomes more complex each day.

Remember that St. Paul once told us that we “bear one another’s burdens,” for that is how we “fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal 6,2) Even more, he tells us that we should always consider others better than us—yes, including those with disabilities, since according to him, this was the mind of Christ. (cfr. Phil 2,3-5)

The kinds of disabilities can come in different combinations or forms and in varying degrees. One type usually brings in the other types. And so, we just have to be more discerning and more skilful in dealing with them in their concrete condition.

The more common type are those with physical disabilities—the blind, lame, mute and those with other bodily deformities. These persons are easy to identify and relatively easier to handle.

Basically what is needed is to give them facilities that are more material than spiritual, more tangible than intangible—wheelchairs, crutches, guide or care-giver, ramps, elevators, etc.

The more difficult ones are those with mental and emotional disabilities. More specialized skills are needed. And while some medicine is used, what is more necessary is greater human interaction. They require more attention. And the therapy is longer and more complicated.

The most difficult ones are those who can be described as persons with attitudinal disabilities. They can look normal, but they actually are not. Nowadays, some people are even promoting the culture of “having an attitude,” as a way to create an impact on society.

We need to be most prepared to deal with these people. First, because they now are far more than those with other disabilities, and worse, they are not easily identifiable. Second, because they are really more difficult and more challenging to deal with.

We cannot be naive in the face of this growing phenomenon around us. We have to have to proper dispositions, and better, also to have the appropriate skills in dealing with them.

They normally do not admit there’s something wrong with them. But they definitely have a wrong attitude or outlook toward life. Even with the most elementary indicators and criteria, they would already fail.

They are proud, haughty, self-centered, self-righteous, judgmental, lazy, indifferent, greedy, sensual, etc. And if they are not of the OC type (obsessive-compulsive), they would be in the other extreme—apathetic, pessimistic, prone to fall into self-pity, and feeling as if the whole world is against them.

St. Paul already described them in his Letter to the Romans. They are “detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.” (1,29-30)

They have a very restrictive and subjective concept of what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, moral and immoral. These would often be determined according to their own criteria of convenience and other terms of self-interest.

Faith, religion, piety, virtues and things like these have practically no place in their world-view. If some tribute is given to these values, it is merely out of formalism or because they cannot escape having to go through some lip-service that is clearly devoid of substance.

We have to be ready for these persons. We should always be hopeful and eager to go through the rigor of dealing with them as much as possible with a lot of naturalness, and even poise and elegance.

The first thing we have to do is to use the supernatural means. We have to pray a lot for them, offer sacrifices and develop a healthy apostolic attitude toward them. Instead of fleeing from them, we should rather go to them and develop and deepen friendship with them.

Yes, we also need to develop virtues, like patience, fortitude, creativity and generosity. A certain insensitivity is welcome in the sense of not being too sensitive to all the forms of inconveniences and contradictions that they are likely to cause.

When dealing with persons with disabilities, we normally would be most understanding and compassionate. If we readily are like this with respect to those with physical disabilities, we should be more so with those of have emotional, psychological and, worse, attitudinal disabilities.

This would be charity in its finest forms, a concrete and proximate participation of the charity of Christ toward us as expressed in his crucifixion and death. God and goodness will always prevail.