Let's Put On Our Legs, And Go Out And Play

Published 2:57 pm Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oscar Pistorius, the son of Henke and the late Sheila Pistorius, is not handicapped.

The South African sprinter has no legs.

But he is not handicapped.

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Mr. Pistorius went into the history books as the first double-amputee to qualify for the summer Olympics.

And he ran.

He ran the 400 meters so fast. And the anchor leg-a significant leg for Mr. Pistorius to run-of the relay.

There are many reasons why. This is the biggest reason of all:

His parents chose a definition other than “disabled” for their son.

Oscar Pistorius learned the life lesson, in particular, from his mother, who died at the age of 42 when her youngest son was 15. The double-amputation occurred when Mr. Pistorius was an infant. His parents, however, did not raise him as a disabled person.

As he recounted in interviews leading up to and during the Olympics, Mr. Pistorius' mother told his older brother, “You put your shoes on.” And to Oscar, she said, “And you put your legs on. And that's the last I want to hear about it.”

Then the two brothers went out and played. Every day, shoes and legs were put on in the morning and the brothers went out and played.

Disability? What disability? Oh, you mean the legs. So what.

Visit Mr. Pistorius' website and you'll see his motto:

“You're not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

So don't disable yourself.

That affirmation is a motto for all of us. Many people have disabilities. Visible or cloaked. Most of us have something about ourselves and our lives that could, if we allow it to, disable us from fulfilling our deepest potential, arresting our destiny.

Mr. Pistorius shows us an alternative. Disable the disability by enabling your abilities. The whole world has seen what can happen if we do.

The words of Mr. Pistorius are not the easily-assembled vowels and consonants of some glib spokesperson for a sports beverage trying sell more bottles and gallons. Those syllables have been lived through and through, inside and out, upside down and on every inch of his life's track.

Mr. Pistorius is proof of the truth they speak. Not because he said them. But because he is them.

And not the only one, either.

You can be.

So can I.

Whole communities, too.

Let's put on our legs, and go out and play.