The Glory of the Paralympics

Paralympians have found a way of working with their limitations which has released them into being exceptional.  Their humanity, their vulnerability, is right there on the surface: in a ‘missing’ arm, or some neural connections that don’t function perfectly, or a severed spinal column.

It’s true there are things they can’t do.  They know that.  If you run on blades, you can’t also wiggle your toes in the sand, because you have no toes.

But what inspires me about the Paralympics is that the athletes haven’t made the illogical reverse assumption that because they can’t wiggle toes in the sand, they can’t run fast.  Oscar Pistorius and the rest of them run (or roll) a whole lot faster than I ever have done, and they do it by focussing on what they can do, not on what they can’t do.

There may be things you really can’t do.  Your humanity and vulnerability may be hidden: a phobia about flying, a deep anxiety about getting close to someone, a difficulty reading, a fear of losing control or being responsible for others.

But Paralympians show us that the glory of being human is that we’re so much less limited than we think we are.