For many years, China refused to acknowledge the existence of those in their country with special needs — specifically, the mentally handicapped. This is a sad truth about China that will, hopefully, change. Here in this story, we see some evidence for a shift in perspective, given China’s hosting of the Special Olympics.
It seems like such an obvious truth, a tautology essentially, to suggest that the mentally handicapped are people too, and that they need to be acknowledged and welcomed in the human community with open arms. It seems so evident that it lacks humanity – and actively diminishes it – to do otherwise.
One might hope that this change was actually caused in part by the PRC’s recent embrace of Confucianism, though that might be overly optimistic. In any case, Confucius would certainly smile on the change. Only the petty, we are told in Analect 13.23, enforce ‘sameness’ upon others, whereas the exemplary person seeks to understand how to create harmony within difference. More to the point, however, the key reason is laid out succinctly and powerfully in this analect:
“The Master said: It is man who broadens the Way, it is not the Way that broadens Man.” (Analects, 15:29)