This year the Social Justice Week focus is on disability and participation. How can we encourage more enabling communities, affirming that everyone has a part to play in our society?
Disability is not about individual impairment, but about society. The New Zealand Disability Strategy says: “Disability is something that happens when people with impairments face barriers in society; it is society that disables us, not our impairments… It is something that happens when the world we live in has been designed by people who assume that everyone is the same.”
We are all valuable before God, and we all have the same desire to experience life more abundantly, as Jesus promised us. God has called us together as one body – in fact, it is our diverse gifts and abilities that make us the Body of Christ. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor 12:26).
It is the duty and responsibility of each of us to play our own part to the fullest and remove every barrier that stands in the way of our brothers and sisters from doing the same.
“Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.” Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, 1998