Today, 3rd December, we celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities, which was established by the United Nations in 1992 to create ‘diverse and accepting communities’. Imagine what could be achieved if everyone around the world worked together as co-creators in this, as depicted in the beautiful double page picture by Gráinne Knox in our book ‘A little bit EXTRAORDINARY’.
Our contribution toward this is a drop in the ocean of effort to create inclusive communities on a global scale, but it’s a step in the right direction to educate people from a young age in this way of thinking and being.
Recently, I woke up with a hymn playing in my mind that I loved in primary school but have not heard for years. It’s called ‘Colours of Day (Light up the fire)’, written by Sue McClellan, John Paculabo and Keith Rycroft. The first verse lyrics are:
“Colours of day dawn into the mind,
The sun has come up, the night is behind.
Go down in the city, into the street,
And let’s give the message to the people we meet.”
What message are you giving to people?
Is it words of wisdom, kindness, peace, tolerance, acceptance, inclusion and love? Or words of anger, hate, division, derision and gossip?
It’s not just about what we say but also how we say it as tone of voice dictates whether the words conveyed are interpreted as a positive or negative expression.
Is it a visual message of a happy smile that could light the fire of optimism and hope in another person’s heart and make them feel at ease, accepted and liked? Is your gaze filled with love-light that can uplift them from a place of darkness?
Or are you frowning or scowling, making a person feel dejected, rejected and wondering why you might dislike them?
It’s estimated that between 70 to 93 per cent of all communication is non-verbal, so it’s always better to wear a smile than a frown and to stand tall rather than slouch.
The Hebrew word for ‘angel’ is ‘malak’, which translates as ‘messenger’. How wonderful to think you can be an angel, spreading messages that will uplift and elevate others. What messages and actions can you take to include others and to create equality in your community, school or workplace?
Every day is a new beginning when we can release the past and let go of negative patterns and behaviours that hurt ourselves and others so that we can become a better version of who we are.
Human beings are a living example of the constant death-rebirth cycle on a physical and spiritual level for we can change our thoughts, outlook, attitude, behaviour and the words we choose to use at any time. Even the most outer part of our body and our largest organ – the skin – sheds nearly a million cells over a 24-hour period, the same duration from one sunrise to the next. How amazing you are!
We sometimes think people are ‘thick-skinned’, which means they don’t feel upset or hurt by the words and actions of other people, but so often this is not the case. Many people have learned to hide their hurt and pain. They have learned to become poker-faced if someone pokes fun at them. This makes people put up barriers. There are already too many barriers. We need to take them down, not build more of them. What any person says and does has a huge impact on others. Words can bring hurt or hope. Actions can uplift others or cause them to shrink back.
The pandemic has been challenging on many levels for everyone, but for people with disabilities or special needs who may already have been isolated or dealing with mental health issues or not having access to many opportunities and services that other people take for granted, it has been more trying. Lockdowns and social distancing reduced community activity and support when it was most needed and highlighted how important being part of an active community is for everybody, particularly those who may have been marginalised or ostracised from communities in the past.
Some huge changes occur in our lives without us even trying while other transformations take more effort. Every one of them brings renewal, regeneration and rebirth. Let the things that can take care of themselves do so and put your energy into creating yourself into a new you – a more peaceful, positive, loving you that focuses on light rather than darkness. This will have a ripple effect on everyone you encounter. Be a person who focuses on ‘can’ rather than ‘cannot’. A person who focuses on inclusion rather than exclusion. A person who focuses on ability rather than disability.
When we think about what we cannot do, we miss out on developing what we can do. We need to focus on what can be achieved, the abilities we have and nurture these talents and gifts so that we can thrive and excel in what we came here to share with the world. No one can do everything, but we all have something we are good at and we can help other people by using those gifts. We can all be of service in some way that is unique to us.
Light up the fire in your soul and let the flame burn away all that no longer serves you.
Light up the fire of creativity in your soul and manifest your unique talents that are to be shared in this world.
Open the door to new opportunities to help every person to shine their light brighter each new day.
Be a messenger of equality.
Sow seeds of kindness.
Help others to grow.
Let your love show.
For more information on the International Day of People with Disabilities, visit www.idpwd.org