We believe we must oppose marginalization by embracing marginality.
This is where “ableism” originates: “we” establish “ourselves” as “normal” – and having done so, what works (for “us”) works. Period. “Others” are not in view, because they are, by definition, “exceptions.”
Who has the right to say who I am? Do other people have the right to tell me who I am, or should I tell who I am to others?
We call ourselves the “body of Christ.” But he used his body to touch lepers who should have made him unclean, be touched by prostituted women, knowing the scandal it provoked…
While friendships and burdens remain, dreams do sometimes die. Yet they’re sometimes reborn. Entire chapters of life seem to end in a sudden aposiopesis… only to be reconfigured in a new place with new characters.
Honoring the dignity of your neighbor expresses love for him. Rightly esteeming the worth of your neighbor is justice.
When we cease to participate in the marginalizing nature of this world of ours, “disability” melts away and there is only “difference.” And in THIS body, difference is valued, because we all – every blessed one of us – have meaning, purpose, significance, value.
How we attach the label “disabled” is influenced by context. Changing the context can change reality.
These barriers of attitude and economy, of structure and power – which “we the normal” have constructed, cementing them with “normalization” of ourselves and our own horizons of ability – not only push people with disabilities to the margin… they serve to keep them there – to keep them away.
A while back, I published a series of articles based on the experience of interacting with Chinese, Roma, and European mission leaders last fall. We continue to work with the networks that have emerged and grown in such gatherings, and in the many personal connections nurtured as the work goes forward. One of the presentations…
We’ve been taking on a couple of prevalent ideas about disability: first, that it’s a problem that involves certain individuals’ brains and/or bodies and secondly, that “we’re all disabled” in one form or another. Yes, everyone is different. And no one is able to be or do everything they might like to be or do….
God is moving among Roma, at the periphery of Europe, while churches at the “center” wither. It’s great opportunity to relearn mission.