One of my best friends has Multiple Sclerosis and has been in a wheelchair now for over five years. Before that there was a lengthy period during which she used a scooter and only stood to transfer from one seat to another. My point is that it has been close to ten years since I have seen my friend standing up. For the most part I never really noticed this. I was aware, obviously, of the chair but didn’t really think of seeing my friend any differently.
The other day I happened to be visiting her when she was getting a chance to use her stander. For those who may not be familiar with physio-therapy tools, this is a device which levers you into a standing position and holds you there. For the first time in such a long time, I saw my friend standing on her feet and I realized how much my idea of her had changed. I was taken aback and immediately commented, “I forgot how tall you are!”
Sadly, this was not an instance of miraculous healing. She was back in the chair before I left and had not been in any way able to walk around, but still…
As I was driving home that day I reflected on what had happened and realized that this experience has transformed my view of the stories of healing in the New Testament. I took the place of the men who took their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing, even risking life and limb to get him up on the roof and lower him down to Jesus. They knew they hoped for healing for their friend’s body, but imagine how meeting him at the door of the house when he walked out on his own! How much their view of him must have changed, and how much their friend’s experience would have healed them!
There was no change in my friend’s physical condition that day, but I will never again read the following passage in the same way. I have seen it from an different angle and my point-of-view has been forever changed!
Jesus Heals a Paralytic
When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’
Every person is unique. This is a basic principle on which we must agree, or you may as well stop reading this post right now.
There are many Cathy Scotts in the world, one I am aware of was even born on the same day as I was. Do I think for a minute that this means there are people exactly like me? Absolutely not! Even identical twins are not exactly the same despite sharing the exact same genetic coding!
Approximately half of all people are different from the other half based their gender. Some people differ by race, by age, by abilities or disabilities, by sexual preference, by ideology etc. The ways in which we differ are almost limitless. We have one important thing in common and that is our humanity. We are all humans! This being the case, why do we allow some differences to be demonized or belittled? What makes my differences ok, while those of others are not?
I love the pin pictured above! The minute it turned up in the syracuseculturalworkers.com catalog I ordered one. I believe strongly in justice for all. I have worked specifically with the LGBT population at my school, done walks to raise funds for the MS Society, supported indigenous rights through KAIROS activities, and work hard to speak in terms of gender equality at all times. I have also at one time or another worked on projects for other causes. One thing that always came to mind was that if my energy was split in this way I may not be of much use to any one cause. That is why I like the pin.
What I work for, and I believe that we all want, is justice and fairness for all. While there may be differences in the specifics of the discrimination or abuse that happens to different groups the overarching aim is the same. I don’t for a moment think that this means we can do away with all special interest groups and just have one big group for everyone, we know from experience that someones struggles would be put on the back burner or neglected all-together. We still need GSAs and MS Societies, women’s rights groups, and groups fighting against racial injustice; but groups like KAIROS and our new Humankind Be Both group at school which work on multiple if not all fronts are the best for me.
It is all too easy to come up with “anti-campaigns” and we have seen them. If we are anti something it implies an aggression of our own against another group. I am not anti-bullying, I am pro respect and kindness. Fighting for the rights of Palestinians is not being against the people of Israel.
So, whether you have one focus area or are more scattered like I am, find a way to fight for more justice, more kindness, and more equality in the world and we will indeed be in the Same Struggle, Different Differences!
9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives kairoscanada.org
GSA – Gay/Straight Alliance mygsa.ca or egale.ca
LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered
MS – Multiple Sclerosis http://mssociety.ca/en/give/default.htm
Syracuse Cultural Workers – syracuseculturalworkers.com
Posted in Reflections
Tagged Bible, change, choices, difference, forgiveness, GSA, help, improvement, justice, KAIROS, kindness, leadership, LGBT, love, MS, problems, struggle, Syracuse Cultural Workers