“Persecutions and discrimination can affect not only ethnic or religious groups but also social classes. The disabled have been the object of intolerance over the centuries. In the ancient Greek city of Sparta, newborns with a physical defect were thrown from Mount Taygetos. In Italy, some lidos didn’t allow kids with heavy physical disabilities to enter.
“Recently, in the United States and in Italy, the device that kept two vegetative patients alive was unplugged. Consequently, they died. In my opinion, this is a case of intolerance. When I volunteered at a center in England that provided holidays for the disabled, I looked after a young man who was completely paralyzed except he was able to move his eyes. He lay on a stretcher. I still remember his name, Neil. I asked the nurse how to feed him. The nurse answered, ‘You have to spoon-feed him as if he were a little bird. When he wants to say yes, he raises his eyes, and when he wants to say no, he lowers his eyes. It’s easy.’ I did like that. At the beginning, the spoonful I gave him was too much. He couldn’t swallow the food and coughed. By and by, I found the proper mouthful, and he ate quietly. He couldn’t smile, for every part of his body was paralyzed. But looking at his eyes, I felt that he was happy while I was feeding him.
“Some say that the heavily disabled like Neil are better off dead because they suffer so much. This opinion comes from an incorrect idea of happiness. They think that only good fitness brings happiness. This assumption is a kind of prejudice. There is a soul inside a body. The soul can be happy even in a disabled body, like Neil’s body.”
“Uncle Salvatore, maybe some kinds of life are useless. People who are alive but show no sign of brain activity don’t feel anything and can’t move. Don’t you think it would be better to put an end to their life?”
“I don’t think so. I am favorable to all kinds of life. We don’t know what will happen after death. Who knows, maybe we’ll disappear forever. Therefore, between to be and not to be, I’ll choose to be, regardless of the form of life, healthy or unhealthy, normal or disabled, happy or unhappy.
This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind