Photos by: Maxence Gandolphe de Witte
Humanist Jean Vanier on accepting who we are Last summer I visited L’Arche (The Ark) in Trosly-Breuil, France—the birthplace of a community that brings together adults with intellectual disabilities and young adult volunteers known as assistants. The model, conceived by humanist, philosopher and theologian Jean Vanier, now operates in 40 countries. In a recent phone interview I asked Jean what he’s learned living with people with intellectual disabilities. BLOOM: Is intellectual disability the most stigmatized of disabilities? Jean Vanier: I think it can be considered one of the most stigmatized because it touches something very profound. Many people define human beings because of their capacities and success and so on. Aristotle would define someone as a ‘reasonable’ person, a person who
can think, a person who is capable of doing things. He would talk about the intellectual component. And of course people with intellectual disabilities are wounded in their intellectual component, but they have another component which is very much alive, which is their capacity to love.
BLOOM ~ summer ~ 2013 ~ 27
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