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A Quiet Giant Among Us

Disability Advocate Shares Insights

March 24, 2015 by Carmen Hinkey

A disability advocate helps a patient tilt their chair back so they can make eye contactFor some people, when they speak, we stop to listen whether we intended to or not. There is a power behind their words that comes from a lifetime of doing, of quietly practicing the values they speak of. Such a person is Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, and a giant among advocates for people with disabilities.

This year Vanier was honored with the Templeton Prize, and on March 11 he delivered an acceptance speech that serves as a powerful reminder to all of us why we do the work we’ve chosen.  The speech bears reading in its entirety. Take time for it. Until then, be inspired by these selections:

“… People with intellectual disabilities are not able to assume important roles of power and of efficacy. They are essentially people of the heart. When they meet others they do not have a hidden agenda for power or for success. Their cry, their fundamental cry, is for a relationship, a meeting heart to heart. It is this meeting that awakens them, opens them up to life, and calls them forth to love in great simplicity, freedom and openness.”

“…Today we are discovering that these people have a wealth of human qualities that can change the hearts of those caught up in the culture of winning and of power.”

 “It is only as we meet and share together person to person, eye to eye, and heart to heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity.”

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