Tuesday, 22 November 2011

If Disability Was a Religion, Would We Accept the Poor Treatment of the 1 Billion With Disabilities

The United Nations says that more than 1 billion people around the world live with temporary or permanent disabilities. More than 1 Billion. Are you as shocked by this number as I am? More than 1 Billion. That is 4 time the population of the United States.It is even more shocking is that the UN reports that many face discrimination and a lack of needed services. The first-ever “World Report on Disability” reports that “few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond to the needs of people with disabilities…”Human statistics are hard to imagine. We see the number only, forgetting that they are fellow human beings.Here is one comparison that might help you understand the scale. The number of people who are disabled is roughly equal to the number of Catholics in the world. Or roughly equal to the Muslim faith. Or Hindu faith. Or Atheists. What if the world treated members of these groups as poorly as we do our disabled population?Would you be moved to write to your local politician if you knew that 1 in 10 Catholics in the world reported that they’d experienced discrimination and a lack of adequate health care?How would you join a march to protest that your society was persecuting Atheists by withholding rehabilitation services, transport, and jobs?What would you do if your one of your neighbours was prevented from shopping in your local shop because of their religion? Would you be angry? Of course you would.So why do we put up with the levels of discrimination meted out to the disabled human beings? If disability was a religion most right minded people would be on the streets protesting.Disability rights are a human rights issue and we need to wake up to this now. The report quoted British physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from a debilitating motor disease, as saying that the world community has “a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation… and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock their vast potential.”The World Health Organization and the World Bank, estimate that about one in seven people globally now live with temporary or permanent disabilities. What can you do to help today?Identify a disabled support organisation – there are many, just make sure you pick a good one. Make a donation. Or volunteer. Write a letter to your local politician. Insist buildings are designed with the disabled in mind.I have personally seen a human being blossom as he was provided with the simple building blocks for existence. Work, respect, thoughtfulness. Do something, no matter how small because we cannot allow this to continue.

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