Do we have to be sensitive, only when we are facing difficult situations or we are able to develop social defenses even when this is not violently imposed by reality?

Millions of cars and motorcycles are running daily, tens of thousands of hazardous activities or actions are being carried out, millions of minds are working on a routine pressure which usually does not fit any kind of sensitivities and “delays” and only one bad moment is enough to radically change the life, thought and view of a man!
At the same time, this change entails the lives, thoughts, opinions and sensitivities of other people, who are usually around him or her!

Suddenly, the thing that never bothered us, is the focus of our sensitivity and humanity.

A man passes the threshold of his new life and he is faced with what all that, until yesterday, was himself, his environment, and his life!

He is among the disabled ones!

The truth is that most the times, the incident which led one to this situation is not the tougher and more violent fact, but what he is called to face in his new life, even with prolonged, extremely tortuous, tedious and annoying “unjust” imposition.

Recently, through my company’s activity, I was invited to inspect and confirm the harmonization with the standards set by the factory, of a big network for a great European car manufacturer.
Being one of the most sensitive-to-human affairs manufacturers, among the standards there was set a number of issues relating to the facilities that serve people with difficulties in movement, so that their experience would be completely smooth (just like for other customers).
So, the testing for these criteria in each and every unit of the network was, as needed, comprehensive, meaningful and realistic from the customer’s point of view (disabled). It was driven by the fulfillment of requirements or the examination and investigation of solutions towards the absolute customer satisfaction and service. Driven by, the respect for diversity and recognition of dignity.

I would drain all my passion and dedication to quality in order to support the exhaustive approach of the inspection towards the purpose essence. However, I would have never made sure that we have given, as a society, our best trying to respect the dignity of the disabled!
A thing which we, the “quality people” learn is: to verify and validate the design! This means that we should design management plans (including crisis management plans, emergencies, etc.) as well as new products designing, services etc, and always include in the developmental stages, the confirmation that these plans will work as and when needed, right!

So, appealing to the manufacturer, we proposed: a part of the inspection to be done by an inspector, stuck in a wheelchair, just as the client would be, and acting in all the favors and places in which this person would need to be served (parking, signage requires, entrance facilities, access to reception areas, waiting service, WC etc.). This way, we would be able to confirm that the real disabled customers would be served with dignity.

But are we going to solve the problem in this way?
Sure, we will give a push towards a solution, but we will not solve the problem!
To work on a solution, we must change our attitude! We must implement this method in the everyday reality.

We have to see life through their eyes!

We want the people who will built the future to have sensitivities greater than ones we have and act on experiences richer and more multifaceted than the ones we have today!

Our proposal is:

We work regularly with young children who are in schools today (and tomorrow will be the managers of the functional structure of our society), explaining and analyzing in more detail, all aspects of life and the needs required by these circumstances. We explain to them what real culture is and how easily someone can move from one state to another.
Along with the theoretical doctrine, give them the force of example! Experience!

We ask them for a single day (not all together, but certainly all) to live their normal lives, on a wheelchair!
To begin, to experience, and to end their day, living the exact torture that we impose those heroes (physical and psychological) in their real lives.
To experience the drama of changing a course, due to difficulty in movement, the “rumple” of dignity through the eyes of their “fellows” and the need to seek help for the obvious … along with a number of other painful feelings, this can be written for ever in the mind of a child! The one who tomorrow will design schools, hospitals, churches, streets, the one who tomorrow will park his car, will wait in a queue at the bank and will do everything obvious, for the rest of us.

So, let’s start with the obvious!

Constantinos Mitropapas