4000 Years of Inclusion
Supporting people to live in the community is one of the oldest of human traditions. Institutions began popping up in the Victorian era but before that people were always in the community. Today’s modern movement of Community Living is really just all of us getting back in touch with our roots. What is more natural than a community that bands together to help its fellow man accomplish the things he sets out to do?
Recently a 4000 year old young man’s remains were found in northern Vietnam. Through thorough bone analysis archaeologists have been able to identify that this man suffered from Klippel-Feil Syndrome; a rare disorder caused by the fusion of neck vertebrae during early pregnancy. Besides paralysis, the disorder has a host of associated medical issues. The short list includes scoliosis, spina bifida, breathing and heart problems, and various abnormalities in the development of the skeleton, sex organs, muscles, brain and spinal cord.
For perspective consider that the community that this man belonged to was pre-agriculture. His community had no metal and lived by fishing, hunting and raising barely domesticated pigs. Life would have been very difficult. Nonetheless, this young man lived past adolescence by about 10 years. That is nothing short of a miracle in that day and age. He must have had exceptional supports. The average lifespan of a young man from a similar tribe from birth was about 21 to 37 years of age according to this research paper. If he lived to be 20 years old he was just short of a normal lifespan for his people.
Putting enormous value in inclusion is not a modern concept. It’s something ingrained into the fabric of our history. Perhaps that link to the past has become frayed as modern efficiency and bureaucracy stormed the world for a while but I’m happy to see a return to the traditional. Not in the sense of institutions, an unnatural method of support, but in the celebration of people as they are contributing to our social fabric.
That 4000 year old man must have been profoundly loved by his community. It would have taken real sacrifice at that time to support a person who could not feed himself, move and likely had a host of serious medical problems. There were no shiny hospitals, internet support forums, trained doctors, or pharmaceutical companies to help him and his community in supporting him. Thousands of years ago a community recognized that this man was more than his disability. It is clear by the care that was given to this man how deeply he was valued for his unique gifts and contributions.
Three cheers for being part of a 4000 year old movement! May the spirit of Community Living flourish for thousands of years to come.
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