Today, we do not refer to people as “handicapped.” We are beginning to call them special children or special people. He is special, which is why you have to attend to him a little more than you attend to others, and it is an opportunity for you to put your humanity into practice and understand that life needs to be handled with sensitivity. That sort of sensitivity has to come naturally to people, rather than looking for some mystical or divine solution.
Diseases, injuries and birth defects—all these are realities of life. It is true we would like to see that everyone has legs, but if it happens that somebody does not, it need not become a great misery for him. People can support him to see that his life is not that difficult. Rather than a personal problem, it is more of a social problem which has to be addressed.
Different people have different capabilities. Not all of us can run 100 meters in 9 seconds. Does that mean we are physically handicapped? Compared to that man who can do so, we are, isn’t it? So, “handicap” is a very relative term. Physical and mental activity are always on different scales for people. But the one thing that society can do is to as far as possible create equal opportunities. You cannot make people equal. That would be cruel. If one person does not have a leg, will you cut everybody’s leg? Is that equality? Equality is a foolish idea. But equal opportunity is something that has to happen in every society.
There was a time when so many people would contract polio. Now governments, institutions and people who are aware of public health are taking great efforts to see that every child gets a polio vaccine. But if someone does get polio, the society has to give him the necessary opportunity to live a fulfilled life. Whether it is about getting into public transport or accessing public places, many countries still have not taken enough measures to see that a person who has a little disability can manage in this society. It is almost like everything that we have created is a hurdle for him.
I want you to understand that even people who are not physically disabled in some way are laughed at because of certain inabilities. Not all of us can do everything the same way. Suppose you can sing very well but if you ask me to sing, I’ll do it horribly and you might laugh at me. Society is mentally handicapped. Even if you are born with a funny nose, people will make fun of you. There will always be somebody who thinks they are better than you at something. You should see how to make the best of who you are rather than seeing what someone else is thinking about or laughing at. You can do something else with yourself and become a much bigger source of joy for yourself.
There is a science that deals with how you want to be within yourself, how to be at peace with your body, mind, and emotions no matter what people are saying. That is what we refer to as “yoga.” It is a technique that lets you maintain your identity. “You” are not an issue anymore; the issues are all outside. Outside issues can be handled only to the best of our ability, considering the realities in which we exist. But if you are an issue by yourself, you will not even do what you are capable of doing on the outside. If a human being does not do what he is not capable of, it is fine, but if he does not do what he can do, his life is a tragedy. That should not happen.