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Philippine Normal University

The National Center for Teacher Education


Taft Avenue, Manila

A.Y 2015-2016

Faculty of Educational Sciences (FES)


Professional Education 3
Theories of Learning

DISABILITY--IS IT A GIFT OR A
CURSE?

Name:Jennylyn C. Napili
Year and Section: II-5 BFE

Miss Zhanina Umali Custodio


Professor
DISABILITY--IS IT A GIFT OR A CURSE?

"Life is fair". If you think and believe that life is unfair, it may no longer be fair.
You have a right to choose, right to commit and right to fight for your right. People
have a chance to break their usual life--unrighteous story. You may create your own
path of happiness, you are more than conqueror.

All people have equal talents and gifts from God. It may manifest with some
level of differences but all of us have capabilities God imputed in our DNA- a genetic
material that consists of our inherent qualities and unique features, which makes us
unique and distinct from anyone else.

Gift, it is something that you dont deserve yet it is given to you, something that
you really dont know what it is, any materials given by your friends--anything that will
make you surprised. Just like life, people that are normal and have ability to do
certain things would say that those disabled persons are gifted. Instead of calling
them disabled, why not call them differently abled persons. It is a gift because a lot of
them prove the world that even they are different it doesnt hinder them to live
normally and show people that they could be productive in their own unique and
simple ways. And because of their disability, they maximize and focus on using their
body parts or senses that still functions and that is something that made them
amazing. Like for example, a blind man keeps on practicing and enhancing his voice
until he became proficient with that skills and talent. And he used that to earn for a
living. Instead of blaming others because of his condition, he uses it to become more
beneficial and stand-out to his profession. When you see them in the public market,
street, suburb or even in the squatters area, you are amazed on the talents that they
have had. Despite their condition, they are confidently facing the world and saying,
"Here I am, facing you as a normal person". The talent is what makes people special
or important. As bible says, your gift is a talent that makes you a room, those
unlimited possibilities are for those talented persons. If you are disabled and it high-
lighten your gift, it has a big potential to recognize you. All things work together for
good. The Lord will not allow you to experience harshly background.

When we say curse, it is something bad being inflicted to you or someone


even you don't like to have it because of its own purpose. Several people live on
Earth have different disability--blind, unable to speak, deaf, lamer, autistic, dyslexia,
neurological disabilities and other forms of it. If you are in their situation, you will feel
what they feel. Often they are questioning themselves why they are experiencing
those circumstances. They want to do something that is unusual and useful but they
can't even force themselves to do and to pushing themselves in pursuing and
accomplishing it. For instance, when there's a deaf child, although his parents feel
that he is very special, you can't deny that when he is alone, he has several
questions that he can't explain. He will let other people to get an idea, opinion about
his status. He will be depressed, stressed and frustrated on the source that he
received. Despite the good thing stated from others, it is difficult to interpret to enter
to his mind/heart that it is a gift given by the Creator. Why he? Why not others?
Probably, it might be happened for those sinners and condemned--that has big
mistakes did on Earth. Talents? What is talent if you feel that you're not complete--
disabled, lacked, different? People they see on the cross roads, they are judging him
and it is painful. It is a curse that came from the root of sins of their family. It is painful
and hard to accept because you suffer to the consequences which you do not have
any part of doing it.

Even today, we boldly impart God as the primary cause of disability to some
people. In the Old Testament, God reserved curses to those who disobey His laws
and statutes particularly to the Jews or Israelites. The general view of the Old
Testament writers is that God brings disability as punishment for transgressions for
sin or as an expression of God's wrath for people's disobedience. It is seen as a
curse and as a result of unbelief and ignorance. The Bible even portrays disability as
a curse and as a result of disobedience, unbelief, and ignorance. In Leviticus 26:14-
16, as one of the punishments for Israel's disobedience is expressed in the following
way: "I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy
your sight and drain away your life." Samson also sinned against the Lord through his
eyes; as it is written: "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me
as my wife" (Judges 14:2). He was therefore punished through his eyes: "Then the
Philistines seized him, gorged out his eyes" (Judges 16:21). Prov. 30:17 warns that
the eyes, which are disrespectful to parents, will be plucked out by birds of prey. The
New Testament also supports the link between sin and disability. This link is well
illustrated in John 9:1-3. The disciples anticipated a connection between disability
and sin with the question: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was
born blind?" This question implies that disability was the punishment meant for some
unspecified sin. When Jesus healed the physically impaired man who lay by the pool
of Bethesda, He said to him: "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something
worse will happen to you" (Jn. 5:14). This clearly indicates that Jesus thought there
was a connection between the man's disability and some sin (Jn. 5:3).

But even though God inflicts curses to wicked people and parents, the Bible
says that Gods righteousness and divine justice are never compromised from doing
it. God is known to be a merciful, gracious and a loving God- and we are sometimes
confuse why He let something terrible to happen to anyone. Questions like, Why
youre so unfair? seems blaming God from doing wrong. Although, having disability
can be associated as Gods form of chastisement or retribution to our sins, the Bible
says that all curses have been washed away when Jesus died for our sins and took
all our diseases and curses when He was hang on the cross! The Bible speaks that
because of Gods oceanic love to us, He let His Son to bear our iniquities and put the
judgment on Him so that we can have a life in abundance as He promised in John.
So the very purpose why God let people to have disability is not really to destroy
them or to deprive them because of wrong doing by either the sins of their parents or
their willful sins. Gods curses are only a shadow of how good is the remedy when
someone disabled taste what God has prepared for him. And that is to know how
much He loved us by receiving all our transgressions and freely forgive us and heal
us. You can never know the taste of sweetness if you never taste bitterness.
Likewise, you will not find light when you are not in the dark God can turn pale into
colorful and with the same token, God can make curses to be His gifts to us. By
human interface and finite understanding, it needs the wisdom of God to fathom His
will and purpose in our life. Gods thoughts are beyond numbers in human scales
combined. Not everybody understand the way God decides and plans. Our
perception is always stacked to what manifested outside. We never see the way God
sees it until we found ourselves nothing without Him.

To reflect how Gods unfathomable plans are, I interviewed one student from
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV), Jayson C. Palado who claims that
Gods chastisement is not really a curse, but a form of love that needs to be realized.
He believes that being a disabled person doesn't mean his entire life is a closed door.
He may somehow limit himself with things he can do but he believes it is not the
physical appearance that makes you a normal person, it is being a true human to be
a normal person. He never claimed to himself that his disability is a curse from God
nor it is retribution of his sins. Instead, he counts it as a blessing or a gift in his life. In
some degree, he may see himself a different person when he mixed in crowded
areas. People stare at him because of his awkward appearance but what he just
always whispers to himself is this, "Oh! I am very famous! People constantly look
at me like a celebrity". That makes him standing-out in the crowd. He sees favor not
insults. He believes that he is unique because only few of them have a hunch back
and some people staring might also envious because they don't have it.

He also added that his disability is a gift because it is when he started to


search more hidden talents in him. He discovered to himself that he has a talent in
drawing when he was recovering from his disease. His mom bought him art materials
for his idle times and that's the moment he realized that he has a gift of drawing. After
his recovery, there is still a remnant of scar left on his body, a deformed spine. But
instead of agonizing to himself, he makes this a breaking-ground to create great
things in his life. He thinks that, he is more than a normal person because he has a
complete set of happy family, friends and best buddies in life. Moreover, he usually
does what normal person does like swimming, biking and any other cool stuff like
camping. The most important thing that his disability bought into his life is to achieve
more and aim higher in his study. He has brought many achievements, certificates
and medals which are the manifestations of God's given talent and blessing.
Because of these things, he knew that he never lack in this life because he enjoys
the journey of human's life like any other people in the world. Besides, he has a big
loving God who continuously blesses him in every chapter and in all horizons of his
life.

It is so amazing to hear these words come from the one who feels and
experiences that situation. He still believes that disability is never a restraining hitch
that destroys us but rather a call to discovering hidden treasures and gifts that can
create breakthroughs and make difference in us.

Life is a gift, its up to us how we believe on it and give value on it. As Jayson
said, he always thinks that he is as normal as a real normal person should become.
You will feel comfortable to yourself if you know that you can do everything. No one
stopping you to do things that you wanted to do. You have your own life, you have
your own keys to unlock doors of discovery in your life and it is you who take
opportunity and use it in beneficial way.

You cannot choose a perfect life that you want. Even as a normal person, they
still praying and continuing believing to have thatbut they havent. Lets be thankful
for what we have because God doesnt give something without a purpose. He
purposely set everything in its place. No one can question him why doesnt he make
things in this way. Just believe what our Creator does is always perfect and he never
meant something existing to be useless. Everything reflects his glory.

What was the reason why they see their condition as a curse? Let us put
ourselves to the shoe of the disabled person. The reason why some disabled people
think that their condition is a curse is because they only look at what manifest outside
but do not perceive things behind their backs. They consider things as lack when
they see things they want from other people. They closed their mind to the fact that
they have been limited, suppressed to do things because their illness holds them
back. Perhaps, disabled people also think that theres nothing special to them. They
are also lacked in encouragement and motivation to see life in a bright and positive
way. Second of course, they blame themselves for having disabilities in their body.
They look God punishing them because of wrong things theyve done or maybe
because God doesnt love them and God shows favoritism. They have a wrong view
of God instead of trusting Him and appreciate all the things He gave. They see it as a
curse because they think they are not normal, aliens from majority and they feel they
carry all the burdens like a cursed but all of these are certainly wrong. Believe that
theres a One who really controls. You must enjoy life to matter how it goes. Just
think this- why some people who are able to do things can still be frustrated,
confused on the things that they can? Because they are not contentedthey are
craving to have talents that you have. Even normal or not, all of us are craving to
have meaningful life, that is, a perfect life.

Many researchers make research, books and blogs to prove this topic. To
understand more this issue, we will have a statistics. As I asked question to people
with or without disability, I talk to them that "Disability--is it a gift or a curse? Out of 10
people, 8 of them said that it is a gift (Diana Rise De Ramos, Rojanna Calley, Elinuj
Defante, Rouie May Pangue, Joy Ann Palado, Joshua Paul Bartoline, Jhon
Velasquez and Jahzeel Faith Catuiza).

As one respondent says that being disabled person that has multiple talents is
not a curse. It is so hard on their part to sacrifice and to admit to themselves that they
are disabled person. She says that it is a gift given by Almighty God for them to prove
that life is not perfect, it has lot of trials and burden, lot of things we need to fight for
but as a person, we can make our own definition of perfect life that despite all the
obstacles we have, we need to be strong and to trust God that everything happens
for a reason--a reason that has a great purpose and lessons for our own sake. Being
disabled is not a reason to give up instead it is a challenge to improve ourselves and
to be a better one, she added. As she prove her statement, she gave a reminder that
we should always remember that God didn't give us trials to make us a failure but to
see how we can still stand up and be firm so that we can be able to get the victory
and gift that God prepared for us. And she believes that being disabled is a gift and
not a curse as long as you use it as an inspiration to succeed. She still nodded to use
the condition to inspire, encourage, help and of course to prove that your condition is
not a curse that slaves you in your whole life. God looked us in a same level but he
has different plans prepared for us.

As Rojanna Calley says, a cellgroup leader in a Christian Church, she doesn't


see any proof that disability is a curse though they are disabled, all things work for
own goodness, Lord will never let people to allow us to suffer forever. Earth has lot of
standard that you should meet and they limit us to see it.

Elinuj A. Defante, a Psychology student in Polytechnic University of the


Philippines (PUP) believes that being disabled is a gift because many of them have
hidden talents that prove them that they are not different to other person.

Rouie May J. Pangue, a Psychology student in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng


Valenzuela (PLV) also said that it is a gift because even if they have disabilities, God
gave them talents to fulfill the things that they dont have.

Joy Ann C. Palado, a Social Work student in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng


Valenzuela (PLV) agrees that it is a gift. Gift from God because being different is
beautiful. Some people have this situation but they all become successful.
Joshua Paul Bartoline, an unemployed person says that it is a gift because he
believes that those people that disabled have talents. He gave an example, a blind
girl who was singing in Quiapo Church and her voice is very sweet to hear just like an
angel singing in heaven. And he added that we, people are the one who decide to
think that it is a gift or a curse.

Jhon Velasquez, a Bachelor in Secondary Education major in Physical


Education student in Philippine Normal University (PNU) says that it is a gift and we
should accept the fact that God has His own critical thinking skills to show His ability
and in order for you to overcome your situation. God will help you and He really
knows everything.

Jahzeel Faith Catuiza, a First student in Philippine Normal University (PNU)


also believes that it is a gift, somehow disabled people planned to be a successful
person someday without that disability, however, God did not plan our life the way
they envision it. God made them the person they are today because that is the best
version of them. They just have to remember that God chose them to have that
challenge because God knows they are able to overcome it.

All of these people believe that disability is a gift according to how they reflect
and feel in their state. Two (2) of my respondents are in neutral side, that is, they
believe that disability is a mixed gift and curse (Honey Joy Cabahug and Meloisa C.
Dabu).

Meloisa C. Dabu, an Accountancy student in Pamantasang ng Lungsod ng


Valenzuela (PLV) consider that it is a both gift and curse because she said that their
disability is a curse but the talent that they have is a gift to be able to fulfill the
disabilities of a disabled persons.

Honey Joy Cabahug, a Psychology student of Our Lady of Fatima University


(OLFU) believe that were not perfect and all of us have their own disabilities, that it is
a curse which oppresses people. But since God is good, God gave us talents to meet
the demands of our own basic needs.

According to Parsons, Lewis Hinson and Brown that the traditional definition of
giftedness is based on the general intelligences have of one's person in their
capability to answers questions. Often, the recognition of a gifted man may be
distorted or blocked because the child exhibits their characteristics. One segment
may be overlooked includes gifted students with disabilities. They still suggested that
many teachers assume that if the child lacks the ability to speak, to hear, or to be
physically active, the child could not possibly be a superior intellect.

Add to these, Whitmore and Maker (1985) estimates that about 2 percent of
children with disabilities are, in fact, gifted. Another group of students who are
underrepresented in the ranks of the gifted are minority students(pp.130).

The mentioned statements above are my strong supports to my stand that


being disabled doesnt necessarily mean you are under a curse. Because even
studies prove that people who witness to be disabled have more chance to become
talented on their own unique way.

Another amazing story with regards on this topic is the life of Nick Vujicic and
his sensational video clips. Well, he is just only a man without pair of hands and feet
yet, he himself can do things which normal person can do. His video clip showcases
his hobbies like playing golf, soccer, sky diving and surfing. These things that
performed by an 'able person' was performed too by a 'disable person'--Nick Vujicic,
a young man who was never limited despite of shortage he had. This is remarkable
and should consider as an amazing performance and talent. And what impressed us
most was his compelling sense of joy and peace in his life.

One person confessed his own experience when he watched his video clips
(Anonymous). Nick Vujicic visited South Korea and appeared on a popular TV show
there called "Healing Camp" which was broadcasted nation-wide. As he was
watching him, he had difficulty holding back his tears, he was blessed to see Nick
planting the seeds of hope, love and truth to many people who are watching and
listening to his confession to those Koreans who had no real purpose and meaning in
life. After he watched the show, he couldn't hide his ambivalent feelings. On the other
hand, he was inspired and motivated to his life of love, hope and truth. He also
embarrassed and sober-minded. See! How can you imagine that even disable person
can still impart hope to those who view life without a purpose? No hindrance, barrier,
interruption that will stop him. Even if he has no arms and legs, life is still continuing
to process. He progresses and prospers his own perception and promises of God.
How great to hear these moments? Nick Vujicic serves as an inspiration not only for
disabled persons but also to the abled persons.

Nick Vujicic is a not perfect human being but he sees himself as perfect as he
sees. He didn't admit to himself that he can't rather, he pursues his dreams to be as
normal person. His mom and dad support him in his everyday life, in doing sports,
and anything he wants. He feels that at first he can't accept the real fact of his
condition but as time passes by, he observes the things that he can--he's special in
doing a special talents. He discovered things that will help him to remember that he is
a man who has a purpose and God is still guiding him wherever he is. He spoke
advices and teaching goodness not only to his country but in the whole world. He
shared his experiences that despite the condition he has, God is not stopping to take
care of him.

Resurreccion (2013) also published his book about "The other face of Autism:
Meanings that Parents Develop from their experiences of having a child with Autism",
that explains about the meanings that parents have made based on their experiences
of having a child with Autism (pp.71). He interviewed ten married couples who have
children with Autism. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by
impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and
repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's
life. Each parents gives meaning for having a child with autism and one of the theme
that they say is "Will of God" because they believe that their child is a gift or a
blessing from God that should be accept. Based on Carla, (one of the respondents)
the child that she has is a gift from God. And it's up to the parents how they grow up
with that situation. And she believes that even if you're in a hard situation, God will
never let you go and you should be thankful and be glad to have that.

Another parent, Gale believes that God has His own reasons why He gave
that child to him. Because God wants us to learn many things through that child. And
for him, his child is a very special child--a special gift from God. The disability of their
child wasn't a big mark rather a way and a tool that reflect and should be think about
in a deeper side and deeper learning and understanding on their situation. But we
cannot reject the fact that parents with an Autistic child are in a bitter situation. And in
accepting the condition of their child is a long term process. They pass through first in
having a different and negative situations and emotions (Hardman, Drew and Egan
347-71). In fact, they feel regrets, pain and trial first. And its very hard for them to
overcome for having Autistic child but they see and they have a wider thinking that it
has its own purpose and benefits for them. Another thing is, the parents have a
motivation to act and have they own definition that result a good character and to
change their viewpoint in life.

Another disability is the ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A most


common behavioral disorder that starts during childhood. ADHD is a common
behavioral disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Boys are about
three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it's not yet
understood why. People most look at it is as either condition or a curse but it is
actually a real gift. ADHD is not a disability but rather a gift of the evolutionary
process (Dr. Kevin). They are plenty people who suffer from ADHD and have refused
in medication and if you figured it out, medication is a restriction for people who have
ADHD. For those parents who has a child with ADHD, they are suffering, yes but it
takes for them as a challenge and a stepping stone to move forward and be an
inspiration to other people who has a child with ADHD.

People with such disability should not be treated like outcasts in a society.
They are people. They have rights like us. In this fluctuating generation, we have
variety of opinions and perception in life.

There's no such thing as curse. Curse doesn't exist, it is only an absence of


hope and positivity in our life. It is a thought that springs out when we do not
appreciate things God bestowed on us and view everything as if it is all against us.
Curse-minded people think that they are oppressed because of their condition.
Realizing that without their disability they can be successful, that they can achieve if
they have this thing or have that thing. Keep in mind that all people on Earth even
those without disability are still practicing to progress and all are aiming for good
success. Life proceeds through process. All of us should pass through stairs. There's
no elevator on progress, it is a step by step processing. Your talent is the way who
leads you to the right path way. If you use your disability to search for hidden talents
you have, you can be more successful than the other--symbolizing that disability is a
gift that just manifests in a unique and great way.
As long as you know to yourself that you too are also a gift, you are a gift.
There is no reason to be sad if you are disabled person. Its not the rumors of the
world that should give value and define you. You know yourself more than everyone
else, you know who you are and you know what you can do. Life is full of great
mysteries and each of us has to discover it. This is how God brings color to our life.
We can never counsel God how he should put things together. All we have to do is to
simply trust him, rely in his goodness and believe that everything our Creator does is
always perfect. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper
you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.
REFERENCES:

(Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1920; The Talmud of Jerusalem, 1956; and


Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972).