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A Manifesto

I am, and want to be, the person I believe I can be.

I want you to see me, as I want to see myself, for what I can do, and not for what I cannot.

I do not want to be treated as "disabled"; I do not want my needs to be seen as "special"; I am who I am; they are what they are.

I do not want to be identified - labeled - by my appearance, or by my condition.

I have mastered, or will master, the challenges of my life, and will meet them my way.

I am a full-fledged resident of the city or town where I live; I am a proud citizen of the state and of the country in which I was born or to which I have come; and I am entitled to all of the rights and privileges, and subject to all of the obligations, that such residence and citizenship entail.

I want, like you, to have my voice heard when I choose to speak.

I want my words, like yours, to be considered for the thoughts that they convey, and for no other reason.

I want to be judged by my accomplishments, by whatever the value of my contributions to my society, however humble they may be, however difficult they may be for others to discern or understand or appreciate.

I am tested, to be sure, by the condition of my body, or my mind, or both, and the quirks and oddities of my appearance, and the movements that come, and go, with my condition.

I realize that my mobility and grace of movement, my quickness of mind, may exist only in the realm of my spirit, but there they nourish and sustain me, just as yours do you.

I know and understand my mountaintops. They are not the same as yours; they are not the heights of Everest; they may be no higher than the curb of the sidewalk in front of my house.

I see my life's goals, and the obstacles to achieving them, as clearly as you see yours, and I am, just as you are, excited by the thought of reaching my goals, at times frustrated by my inability readily to surmount the obstacles that keep me from doing so, and thrilled if and when, at last, I am able to accomplish what I have set out to do.

I am your neighbor, and if you will let me be, I may be your friend.

I welcome your presence, your company, and your assistance (when I ask for it), and I welcome your patience and your understanding, when you are naturally moved to give them to me.

I do not ask for your charity or your sympathy, because I want and need neither.

I love; I am loving; and I hope to be well-loved.

Just as you do, and are, and hope to be.

I understand, and accept, the inevitability that our differences will be noticed; I hope that, one day, our similarities will be as well.

And that we will celebrate, you and I, each in our own way...

Each other.

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