por Maria de Lurdes Duarte

Spiritism and inclusion

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and must act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”, art. 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations (resolution 217 A III) on December 10, 1948.

“States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, without any form of discrimination on the basis of their disability.”,
 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the UN on December 13, 2006


So many years have passed since the elaboration and adoption of these two fundamental documents for the construction of a life of positive relationship in society, based on mutual respect, harmony, cooperation, which grants, to everyone together and to each one in particular, the right to be happy, it's a case of asking ourselves some questions:

Are the goals being achieved?

Is Humanity moving effectively towards the joint search for solutions that will lead us to a better world, where everyone feels that they are an integral part in full right?

If not, what is failing?

These are some of the many issues that occur to us and should concern us all. As Spiritism teaches, we are all co-creators with the Father. What does this mean? In a world in constant mutation, which walks (or must walk) towards progress, each step, each action, each decision, each thought of each one of us, collectively or individually, contributes positively or negatively to the construction of the world that God has destined us: a world of peace, balance, harmony, where Christian values ​​prevail and contribute to happiness and constant improvement. Or for the delay in reaching that destination, if our contributions are negative, destructive rather than constructive.

We Spiritists (convinced, scholars or simply sympathizers), live yearning for the announced world of regeneration and dream of coming, one day, to inhabit a happy and “perfect” world. The problem is that, for the most part, we live in waiting. Waiting for the day that day will come. We forgot that very important detail: we are all co-creators with the Father. God will not give us, as if by magic, a world better than what we have, as if it were a prize for a merit that, let's face it, we do not have. We are the ones who have to build it, step by step, gradually, with our efforts, with changing attitudes, with the evolution of beliefs, convictions and mentalities that preside over the change in human laws and, most important of all, changes in the daily attitudes of each one of us. We are in this current world by merit: we don't deserve to be in a better one. As a result, we will also only change for a better one (which could very well be Earth, if we all want to) when we deserve it.

Continuing the same line of thought, we have to bear in mind the idea that we will never climb the evolutionary scale alone. We have our individual growth, for which we are entirely responsible, which we have been undertaking for millennia, ever since we were created by God. But we have, also for millennia, walked together, since we were placed on this planet Earth that welcomed us and serves as our home. It has been a collective journey, in which each action of one contributes to the rise or delay of all. It is a mutual responsibility because we are brothers on the paths of life, each of us having a share of work for the collective benefit. For this, we were born into a family, previously structured in the Spiritual Plan, with the characteristics that we need for the specific learning we need. For this, we are born within a society, in a given country, in a given community, more or less extended (school, work, neighbors…) that will provide us with experiences that will tend, if properly used, to make us evolve, morally and intellectually.

If we thought to evolve alone, it would be a pure act of selfishness, precisely one of the worst obstacles to the concept of evolution and one of the causes (we can even say the main one) of our current delay.

Returning to Human Rights, we would like to focus more specifically on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. That is: the person who, with an atypical human development, whether due to disease or physical deformity, or mental maladjustment, mental problem, etc., whether congenital or acquired throughout life, needs adaptations by the Society in that it is inserted, so that it can develop its full growth, to live in the freedom and respect that the laws agreed upon by most countries (Portugal and Brazil included, fortunately), grant it and have agreed to work so that they become effective. The laws of each country (at least those that we consider developed and evolved, respecting Human Rights) have been adjusting to this new paradigm: More than just deficiencies, there are incapacities. Inability to move, inability to use common services; inability to learn within established standards, disabilities of various kinds and at various levels. These incapacities, more than inherent to the individual characteristics with which each person is born or develops, are imposed on him by the context, through which he is a part, but which does not provide him with adequate resources. On a planet of the blind, where the common way to read was Braille, for example, no child would be considered “disabled” and would not learn to read because it was blind. On a planet where everyone, in general, communicated by sign language, or by transmitting thought, there would be no deaf people. Therefore, I emphasize the need for the Society to adapt to everyone, each with their differences, giving everyone, without exception, the resources they need to take advantage of this journey through the earthly world in the best way, having the opportunity to leave here renewed and in a better situation than when he arrived here. That is the purpose of life. The purpose of everyone, whether we conform to standard molds or belong to any minority. Minorities are realities imposed by selfish society.

Who is this Society we are talking about? Governments that have to make the laws? Are they “the others”? It's us. The laws very well elaborated and promulgated with the best intentions are useless, if each one continues with his selfishness to cultivate discriminations, looking at “the other” as “the other that has nothing to do with me”. Ethical-moral values ​​such as equity - seeing and recognizing everyone as holders of equal rights, but different beings, with different characteristics, tastes, ways of life and different needs) -, mutual respect, solidarity, sharing (including sharing the desires of ascension to more perfect and happier worlds), empathy (the ability to put ourselves in the other's shoes), are the values ​​of the new Society that we are building at great cost. They are, in reality, the values ​​of the Gospel, the values ​​of Spiritism. As earthly societies evolve, they also adjust to the Divine Laws, therefore, to the values ​​advocated and taught by Master Jesus, Planetary Governor, and by the Promised Comforter - the Spiritist Doctrine - who came to remember and seek to revive the essence of His teachings.

This subject, as it seems to us, is very current and in need of serious reflection. It often appears to us (we realize this in many different conversations with different interlocutors) that, nowadays, we are “invaded” by an increasing number of people who we consider “disabled”. Maybe that's not quite true. This is due, in part, to the increasing visibility that is being given to these minorities. We come from a time, still too present, when the so-called "disabled" were hidden from the community, kept at home by the family, out of shame, as if it were a stigma, a curse, along with the scarce resources that were given for these citizens of law could enjoy their citizenship to the full, like any others. As an example, just over twenty years ago, a child with a disability was rarely found in a regular school. At best, they were placed in special schools; a large number did not even have the right to education, as they were considered “non-educable” and remained locked up at home. We can consider that the idea of ​​inclusion, although not entirely new, is now blossoming in laws, in the workplace, in education, in the concepts of accessibility and mobility, in institutions, and in the mentalities of society that is hard to adapt to all.

On the other hand, as Spiritists, we know that our current world is going through a decisive phase and many opportunities are being given to a wide range of Spirits in need of expiation and renewal. Also many others, more advanced Spirits are descending to our planet, to work on our improvement, giving us examples, making us reflect, boosting intellectual and moral progress, in short, helping us to prepare for the planetary transition " imminent". In this sense, it is expected that, among us, a wide range of people will emerge with the most varied characteristics, minorities among a more or less standardized population, which we are responsible for equally welcoming, respecting, helping, loving, including.

Why are people with disabilities born? Why are some born “perfect and, by illness or accident, acquire disabling characteristics? What does Spiritism tell us about this?

“The vicissitudes of life are of two kinds, or, if you like, they have two very different origins, which it is important to distinguish: one has its cause in the present life; others, out of this life.”The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chapter V, Current Causes of Afflictions

“The vicissitudes of life therefore have a cause, and as God is just, that cause must be just.”, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chapter V, Justice of Afflictions

"Life’s tribulations can be imposed on hardened Spirits, or too ignorant to make a conscious choice, but they are freely chosen and accepted by repentant Spirits, who want to repair the harm they have done and try to do better. This is how the one who, having done his task badly, asks to start again, so as not to lose the advantages of his work. These tribulations, therefore, are at once atonements for the past, which punish, and trials for the future, which prepare. Let us thank God who, in His goodness, grants man the faculty of reparation, and does not irremediably condemn him for the first fault.

We must not believe, however, that all suffering that goes through in this world is necessarily the sign of a certain lack: it is often a matter of simple tests chosen by the Spirit, to complete its purification and accelerate its progress. Thus, the atonement always serves as a test, but the test is not always an atonement.”The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chapter V, Previous Causes of Afflictions

But it is also The Gospel According to Spiritism that tells us:

“The Spirit is often born in the same environment in which it lived, and finds itself in relationship with the same people, in order to repair the harm it has done to them.”, Chapter V, Forgetting the Past

This integration and interaction of the Spirit with the environment it needs to re-educate and evolve is in line with the modern concept of "context" of human development psychology, according to which the individual develops in a given context, is influenced by it and influences it. Individual and context develop and grow, influencing each other. To understand the characteristics of the individual, in addition to biological analysis - disability as an immutable physical or mental health condition - it is necessary to know the context in which he was born, grew up, what influenced him, what provides or not the conditions for overcoming disabilities, in short, where he does his social learning”.

Transposing to the analysis in the light of Spiritism, it is not only important to know what the individual is, as a disabled person, but, above all, how we should provide them with conditions of life and moral, intellectual, spiritual growth. If, once again, we think in a selfish and individualistic way, we may be led to ask: But why does society have to bear the responsibility of individuals in the world who are incapacitated because they are in atonement? It's easy to answer: We have collective responsibility. Nobody makes mistakes alone. The person with a disability, whatever the reason that led them to this condition, is and has always been, in this and other lives that may have contributed to their current condition, integrated into a society - environment, context - wrong together with others (we) who, to a greater or lesser degree, somehow influenced their bad decisions, due to selfishness, pride, lack of love, disinterest, incapacity to help… It is fair that this same society contributes, nowadays, to the rescue of these errors. It's a test for all of us; leaving the winning individual, the entire community will gain from this interaction and will learn from the collective experience.

On the other hand, who tells us that some of these citizens will not even be among us as an atonement, but above all, to make us reflect, learn, study, through the experience of common coexistence, and with that, we have one more opportunity to speed up progress, be it moral, be it intellectual or scientific? What do we know about each one's past (including our own), if forgetting is an inalienable reality in each reincarnation?

Jesus said that "the poor shall always be with you". We can also say that people with disabilities will always have them with us, as long as society does not get rid of evil, selfishness, pride. It is a case of asking ourselves: Who, we or they, will have the most to gain from their inclusion?


Eleni Frangatos - eleni.moreira@uol.com.br



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita