In Ian Brown's award winning book, The Boy in the Moon, he highlights the impact John Ralson Saul's brother Anthony had on the internationally acclaimed writer and essayist's life. Saul is currently President of PEN International and Patron of PLAN. Here is the excerpt from Ian's book:
I had only just learned that Saul had written about disability. I asked him what had drawn him to the subject. Saul – a fairly intimidating figure at the best of times – revealed that he had an intellectually disabled brother. "He was certainly the most influential person in my life, Saul told me.
"Why?" I asked. But he only looked at me thinking, until Clarkson (Adrienne Clarkson, John's wife and former Governor General of Canada) answered for him.
"Because John and his brothers were always trying to communicate with him. All the brothers, they wanted to include him. And they couldn't. And so that left them always wanting to get through to him. Everything else in John's life has flowed from that." – Ian Brown, The Boy in the Moon, Random House Canada, page 204.
Such quotes, situations, anecdotes, references no longer surprise me. Those of us who, like John and Ian, are lucky enough to love, and live with a family member who has a disability know they have a lot to teach us about creativity, ethical behavior and persistence usually under adverse circumstances. It's not that people with disabilities are better than the rest of us. But their impact is under-recognized. Their talents under-estimated. Their contributions under-appreciated.
If we are to prevent our dear world from cascading out of control we had better make sure everyone's gifts and talents are welcomed. In fact the collective wisdom, insight and engagement of people with disabilities may just be what will save us.
This is the first in a new series: How People With Disabilities Will Save the World. I look forward to your comments and welcome your suggestions . Please consider a guest contribution. You can access the whole series by clicking the category: Save the World.