The Balance of our World vs the Equilibrium of the Heart

Posted on April 10, 2018


“The balance of our world frequently is seen as a question of power. If I have more power and more knowledge, more capacity, then I can do more. And when we have power, we can very quickly push people down. I’m the one that knows and you don’t know, and I’m strong and I’m powerful, I have the knowledge. This is the history of humanity. And it is in the whole educational system, that we must educate people to become capable and to take their place in society.

“That has value, obviously. But it’s not quite the same thing as to educate people to relate, to listen, to help people to become themselves. The equilibrium that people with disabilities bring is precisely this equilibrium of the heart. Think about what happens in families, with children. Maybe a father is very strong. But when he comes home, he gets down on his hands and knees and plays with the children. It’s the child teaching the father something about tenderness, about love, about the father looking at the needs of the child, the face of the child, the hands of the child, relating to the child. The incredible thing about children is they’re unified in their body, whereas we can be very disunified. We can say one thing and feel another.

“And so as a child can teach us about unity and about fidelity and about love, so it is people with disabilities. It’s the same sort of beauty and purity in some of these people—it is extraordinary. Our world is not just a world of competition, the weakest and the strongest. Everybody can have their place.”

Jean Vanier in response to this question:

“And as you’ve also pointed out many times, we all have our weaknesses, our limitations, our disfigurements. They don’t all show on our bodily surface, right? We recoil when, on a person with disabilities, it shows. You’ve written that from the point of view of faith, those who are marginalized and considered failures can restore balance to our world. Talk to me about that.”

(Krista Tippett on her book, Becoming Wise; an inquiry into the mystery and art of living)