This vegetable seller is one of the very few people I’ve seen in Beijing who are missing limbs or suffering from severe paralysis that aren’t relegated to either driving san lun che taxis, doing recycling, or begging. When I once mentioned to my wife that it would be hard for someone with mobility problems to climb the three flights of stairs to the café we frequent, she responded with there was no need for them to do so. When I asked her to explain what she meant, she said that they would typically not be in a position to have the expendable income needed to buy luxury items like the coffee and Western-style dishes that the café offered. We then went on to discuss the people I’ve known in the US with such handicaps and what they were able to accomplish.
I just thought back to the performance of Itzhak Perlman that we saw at the National Theater and how just having this single artist here can help change the opportunities available to so many people.
I’m not sure if I can explain this right, but here goes… I think of China is a fairly progressive place. Change might not happen at the same time it does in other countries, but it does occur nonetheless. I look at how much still needs to be done with incorporating those with severe handicaps into society, and think that this country hasn’t begun to accomplish what it can on the world stage. That is, there is so much yet for this society to gain from those that are now marginalized. And, when (not if) they are, well, watch out.
btw, I remember some of the furor in the States regarding the ADA when it was enacted.