Tags: inspiration | abililities

Those Who've Faced Battles Provide Inspiration, Not Pity

statue of frankline roosevelt in a wheelchair

A statue of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair. (AP)

By Friday, 24 July 2020 09:26 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Several years ago I was both humored and aghast to see an electric sign on the campus of a certain university I’'m too embarrassed to identify that advertised "Handicap Awareness Week." In other words, it suggested that we should consciously look for infirmities and disablements in others — in ourselves — especially in our nation — rather than focus attention upon discovering special strengths that enable and empower each of us.

Contrast this with today's increasingly prevalent and defeatist grievance and culture of victimhood. Perhaps we might characterize this as a "Grievance and Self-Pity Culture" (GASP). That acronym seems to work pretty well.

Reflecting back for a moment on my own long life, I can't consciously remember ever envying anyone who had it easier than me, but can readily bring to mind being inspired by many who had it a whole lot harder.

Think Franklin D. Roosevelt, Steven Hawking, Charles Krauthammer and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, for example. Or imagine Black leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Thomas Sowell, and Ben Carsen. These are just ridiculously tiny samplings of a few more famous ones.

But there are countless others who we all frequently see, yet seldom observe closely enough to recognize marvelous personal lessons from their achievements over adversities.

I recently came across an essay titled "Seeing Beyond a Person's Disability" written by Jessica Cox, a wonderfully independent armless "right footed" woman, about her solo international airline trip to Rome to attend a film festival.

Although Jessica had made previous travels to numerous countries with her husband, this one presented some special challenges. For example, unable to pull a suitcase, it was necessary to stuff all belongings into a heavy backpack.

Awkward interactions with others arose as people began treating her differently as a person with disabilities traveling alone. She wrote that upon reaching the departure gate, a flight attendant approached her and asked: "Are you sure you can put on your seatbelt and get out if there is an emergency."  After telling her "yes," Jessica was asked again: "You are SURE you can do that without help?" While tempted to quip, "Yes, I'm the pilot," she simply nodded her head in the affirmative.

When Jessica reached her Rome B&B, the room security bolt located three inches above her head presented a special challenge.  She reported, "Thankfully, I'm flexible from all my Taekwondo training, because I basically had to do a split every time I needed to lock the door."

Jessica's trip proved well worth it. Her movie "Right Footed" won the "Best Documentary" award.

As Jessica waited at the check-in line at the Rome airport for her return flight, an airline representative who saw that she was traveling alone exclaimed, "You are very brave!"

Jessica replied, "I'm not brave, I'm normal!"

Jessica observes, "One of the hardest things about not having arms is convincing people I can do things on my own." She says that while it's a natural human response to look at people who are different, if you're genuinely curious, try to see them as an ordinary person first, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.

She closes with one other piece of advice: "Lower those door bolts!"

Maybe many of us need to occasionally lower self-mounted spiritual limitations that lock out growth and achievement opportunities. That's what happens when we restrict our self-identities around what we can't do, rather than build potentials around what we can dare to try.

We find evidence in daily life that higher callings in response to others with greater challenges than ours can also unlock those barriers within us. For example, we witness parents of special needs children — and families of aging special needs parents — put other personal priorities aside to give nurturing support. And in doing so, we see them gifted in return by treasures of being needed.

As we all struggle through the challenges posed by this coronavirus pandemic, let's remember to be very grateful for the healthcare professionals and teachers who risk their own personal safety to get others through this crisis. Such generous people demonstrate reasons for great hope that the narcissistic GASP counterculture is but a passing aberration, not an indelible blight on our national character.

Our nation isn't perfect, nor were the people who gave it birth and who have constantly advanced progress in making it making it better for everyone. Throughout this turbulent history, many suffered and died to secure civil rights, free speech and opportunities for equal justice and merit-based prosperity.

GASP's revised editorial scripting of history ignores the central principle of our Declaration of Independence which holds that "all men are created equal." Its screenwriters would now falsely have us believe that America was founded in 1619 upon arrival of the first slaves, and that our war of independence as a free nation was fought to perpetuate "systemic slavery" which continues today.

GASP is an ideology of divisive tribal identity rancor that contrives to reverse America's social unity and progress. If left unchallenged and unchecked, a virulent pandemic of disastrous consequences will lay waste to our great nation's gift of hope and achievement that has lifted its people and much of the world out of oppressive cultural inequities and economic impoverishment.

Our only hope is to follow Jessica' Cox's defiant example. We must demonstrate through high-kicking-right-footed-lock-bolt-doubt-releasing determination that we are resilient, strong, and undeterred by all who underestimate our capacities to prevail over presumed limitations we are unwilling to accept.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. Larry has written more than 600 articles for Newsmax and Forbes and is the author of several books. Included are: "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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I can't consciously remember ever envying anyone who had it easier than me, but can readily bring to mind being inspired by many who had it a whole lot harder.
inspiration, abililities
Friday, 24 July 2020 09:26 AM
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