Every Person is a Sacred Story

Primo Levy was an Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz in the final year of World War II.  While there, he risked his life to keep a diary.  If the Nazis had caught him recording his experiences and thoughts, they would have killed him, but he was willing to take the risk because he had a psychological need to tell his story.  Jean Vanier, the founder of l’Arche, wrote a book titled, Every Person is a Sacred Story.  L’Arche is an organization that helps mentally disabled individuals.  Vanier says that some of those people go from childhood directly into old age without ever passing through adulthood, which is tragic.  Childhood is meant to be preparation for adulthood, and the greatest joy of old age is reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ of young adulthood.  God knows that we are fully human, but sometimes we do not know it ourselves.  Every person has a unique story, and that story is proof that he or she is fully human.  We like to tell our story whenever our humanity is doubted.  Sad is the person without much of a story.  I have lived a rich life: I travelled much all over the world, had some wonderful friendships, fell in love more than once, studied at a monastery and three universities (I teach at one of them now), read many books and seen many movies.  Now, though I plan to live a few more decades, I am prepared for death because my life has been well-lived and I do not deserve more.  I will gladly accept more good experiences if they come my way, but I do not deserve them, because I have already had enough.  Though I cannot know with certainty, it seems that many disabled people do not live as rich lives as I have.  If they live long enough to grow old, then they will have no ‘good old days’ to reminisce about.  ProVISION ASIA is not a hospital; it does not help disabled individuals survive; rather, it helps disabled individuals live better; by providing mobility aids and educational assistance, and by helping them get jobs so as to support themselves and their families, it helps disabled individuals live their adult lives as they are meant to be lived, so that they can have the types of experiences about which they can write, tell stories, and reminisce when they are old.  That, it seems to me, is good.

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