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Photo Credit: With Broken Wings by J.Bird Cremeans

People with developmental disabilities are not people who are going to do big things, but they’re beautiful people, because they’re not people of the head, they’re people of the heart. And so the important thing we discovered is meeting people. Meeting people! And to meet someone is not just to say, “Hi.” It’s to get together, to listen to each other, to listen tenderly, to look with kindness, because you are another human being.You see, the whole reality is that people with developmental disabilities have been humiliated. They’ve been told they’re no good. They’ve been called names.But in reality they’re beautiful people.But they have to discover that. And they’ll only be beautiful because we meet together …What we are discovering today is that every person— whatever the job, whatever the responsibility, whatever the religion, whatever the culture—behind the job, behind the culture, there is you, and you are precious.And the important thing is that we discover that we are precious and that we have a mission, each one of us, to reveal to others that they are precious.So then we can start coming together …

Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, an international federation of communities for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. This was excerpted from his acceptance speech for the $1.7 million Templeton Prize.


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