The following article is a cross post from Comfort in the Midst of Chaos. It is wonderfully significant that a Christian ministry, dedicated to the support of people with disabilities and their caregivers, eagerly shared a teaching from a Jewish educator and our Manager of Social Media, Lisa Friedman. We need more of this in our world.
But Moses said to God, “Please, God, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” And God said to Moses, “Who gives man speech? Who makes him dumb or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Eternal?” (Exodus 4:10-11)
It might have been easy for God to say, “You know what, Moses, you’re right. I am asking too much of you.”
It might have been easy for God to say, “You know what, Moses, give it a shot and if it’s too hard, we’ll find someone else.”
It might have been easy for God to say, “OK, Moses, your brother, Aaron can do it.” (Instead)
It might have been easy for God to underestimate Moses’ abilities, but he didn’t. He believed in Moses and reassured him by reminding him that God’s choices are perfect. In fact, God designated Aaron to speak for Moses when he was unable, as his aide, and thus demonstrated the first formal act of true inclusion seen in the Bible.
Too often we underestimate others abilities. Too often we fail to presume competence.
Haven’t you done it? Given in too easily when someone in our care complains that what we are asking is just too much? How often is it easier to just let a sibling complete the task? How many times have we given up due to our own frustrations? How often have we neglected to even ask?
Inclusion is a mindset. It is a way of thinking. It is not a program that we run or a classroom in our school or a favor we do for someone. Inclusion is who we are. It is who we must strive to be.
To be inclusive we must presume competence. To be inclusive we must recognize each person’s right to belong. To be inclusive we must recognize the gift that each and every person brings to the world.
The Cracked Pot
A water bearer in Babylon had two large pots, hung on opposite ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, while the other pot was cracked and only ever arrived half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was tremendously proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it could not complete the task it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
In compassion the water bearer said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it up a bit.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and put it to good use. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.
The moral of the story: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. In this world, nothing goes to waste. Each and every perceived flaw is truly a blessing in disguise.
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, m’shaneh habriyot – Blessed are You, Eternal God, ruler of the universe, who makes creatures different.