In a recent post “Life Unworthy of Life” I ended with a class photo in which a boy in a wheel chair sits conspicuously off to one side. See: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/life-unworthy-of-life/

The photo has been retaken with Miles Ambridge sitting proudly alongside the rest of his class.

Class photoThis second picture shows how it is possible, with a little creativity and thought, to produce a community vision in which there is room for everyone and all people are able to feel equally valued and worthy.

If this exercise has helped a few of us be a little more sensitive about how our choices and decisions may support or hinder a sense of welcome for all people, it has certainly been worthwhile.

In the new image, Miles is not defined by his wheelchair or his spinal muscular atrophy, the genetic disease that means this seven-year-old boy has never walked. He is able to sit among his classmates as an equal, fully included, and wholly welcome. He is no more defined by his physical limitations in this picture than any of the other children are defined by their body type, or their intellectual, social, or sporting abilities. This is simply a picture of a group of children brought together because they each belong to the same class at school.

Welcome and inclusion regardless of physical, mental, or social ability is the goal of all compassionate societies. The more we can work to make space in our midst for all people regardless of differences, the more healthy we will be as a community.