Saturday, November 21, 2009

Disappearing to appear

Numerous stares, sympathetic faces and uncomfortable postures go along with the disabled person wherever they go. Especially in countries like India, we have a highly judgemental attitude rather than understanding what disabled people feel like. The term which should be used to refer to this is also confusing. Should it be people with disability or disabled people? I feel that the term disability means that ‘we’ have the ability. In contrast, when we use the term disabled, it suggests that the ‘disabled’ have been made that way by us, the ‘abled’. This sounds more correct and defines the truth of how the disabled people are basically in the condition they are because of the so called abled.

Are we all perfect or do we seek to be perfect? Do we need to be perfect? Is perfection a necessary condition that human kind should go through? Obviously for me, being a priest brings me closer to the problem of the disabled people. Why are they like this? Does God allow disability or are the people disabled by the abled? Is it punishment from the higher echelons of justice? But what have these people done? Even my referring to the disabled people in the way I do, suggests a difference between us and them!

What am I going to do? Am I going to tell my congregation that people with disabilities are serving God’s purpose? Or am I going to tell my congregation that part of the problem is us, those who are holding onto this built up conception of perfection and for whom there should be people whom we perceive as imperfect, to maintain our perception of perfect. Thus the existence of the perfect depends on the existence of the imperfect.

Our relationship with God is a funny one. We let God appear when we want to and then allow (force) God to disappear when the use of God has passed. This suggests an appearance and disappearance. This is so taken for granted that it has completely slipped our mind, so much that we may even deny it. But this is one reality that we should bring back into our consciousness. God appears and disappears. God disappears so that we may appear. But we take our appearance for granted and forget that this is what we are encouraged to do as well. We too have to disappear, so that others may appear! We too have to be disabled so that others may be abled!


Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Hi Fr Jerry. I'm Jo Chopra, of the By Little and By Little blog which you've linked to on yours. How did you find me? I'd like to hear more about what you do!


Fr Jerry said...

Hi Jo. Thanks for dropping by.I found your blog on the net when I was searching for articles for my blog post on disability. I am a Christian priest doing my doctorate in communication in Chennai. In November 2009 I had a meeting of all doctoral researchers from our unniversity. The meeting in Bangalore had "Theologising with the disabled" as the theme. I was trying to look into the usage of the word disabled and whether it should be disability or whether another word should be coined. I am disturbed that we usually distance ourselves from those who are differently gifted and don't involve them in any discussion. This continues as a personal struggle for me. My research topic is on something totally different but I am thankful that you dropped by.