Behold the Cripple! (Sep, 1930)

Behold the Cripple!

By Bernarr Macfadden

IF YOU lose an arm or a leg you are classed as a cripple.

If you walk with a limp, or have an unmistakable indication of a physical defect of any sort, you are put in the same class of the disabled.

Now there are plenty of people who are defective mentally and physically, but as far as you can see they possess normal powers.

There is no limp in their walk, and superficially they seem to be normal mentally.

But there are many in this class who are really cripples.

They have failed to develop their full quota of physical powers. They could in some instances possess twice the amount of vitality and vigor they now enjoy. They have not the ambition and enthusiasm that could easily be theirs.

Comparing such individuals with what they should be and what they are, you can rightly maintain that they are cripples.

They are defective as men or women. They are lacking in the powers that they should possess.

And they go through life defective, mentally and physically, when compared to the supermen and splendid women that they could have been if all their powers had been completely developed.

To lose the sight of one eye, to be minus the powers of hearing, to be unable to talk, is indeed a catastrophe. It is self-evident.

But when you fail to make yourself a complete man or woman, in every sense, your defects may not be apparent, but, nevertheless, you have to suffer from them.

Whatever mistake you may make in life, do not be a cripple. Do not go along day after day satisfied with ten or twenty per cent, of your possible powers, when an intelligent adherence to the rules of life essential to your full development can be constructively followed.

Make yourself a complete man or a splendid, finely developed woman!

Then, you will not have to admit that you are a cripple in any way.

You are complete in every sense; you possess all your attainable powers.

As a man you are capable of assuming the full responsibility that masculinity demands of you.

As a woman you are vitally feminine, with the radiant health that makes life so exquisitely alluring.

Why be a cripple when such glorious powers can be attained?

The way is clearly indicated; the methods are plainly set forth.

You can be a man or a make-believe. You can be a woman or a female caricature.

What you make of yourself may depend partly on inheritance, but it depends largely upon the efforts you make or fail to make.

With a normal supply of ambition and enthusiasm, the glorious rewards that are offered should insure the strenuous efforts necessary to make you a real winner in the great game of life.

5 comments
  1. David Moisan says: August 25, 20098:39 pm

    Brrrrrrrrrrrrr. I’m reminded, in that era, when a child was born with a disability, or a man was crippled in an accident, that many people thought the child or the man must have made God mad at them.

  2. Joe says: September 25, 200910:49 am

    Don’t get distracted by te “Non-PC” language. Crippled, handicapped, handi capable, disabled, differently ables–whatever. They are all just words. I has born with a birth defect in my left hip, does that make me “defective”?

    The message is a good one. People need to reach beyond “good enough”.

  3. Charlene says: December 6, 20093:24 am

    No, the message is that you’d better conform, conform, conform to what other people expect of you. Push, push, never be comfortable, never enjoy yourself, just keep pushing and pushing and pushing and never rest and never for one micro-second enjoy yourself, because you must Push! Yourself! at all times! or you’re a bad person who is letting everyone else down!

    Evil mindset. Truly evil.

  4. David Moisan says: December 6, 200910:24 am

    It’s truth that for people with disabilities, like any other minority group, have to work twice as hard as “regular” people to be respected.

  5. Aimeslee says: March 1, 20115:34 pm

    As an arthritic “cripple”, I could not disagree MORE with Charlene’s opinion. To me, the essay means that everyone is crippled with something, even if it’s mediocre standards, and we must all work against that which limits each of us. Except on days of my worst pain and joint stiffness, I have an invisible disease like those the author speaks of, and his words are inspiring to me. If you haven’t walked my walk, then please hold your tongue (or typing fingers) and take some seconds to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This author’s advice is what can truly unite us as imperfect beings and begin to tear down the wall of prejudice against the crips. A physical deformity often makes for a cheap shot and a difference that is really not there at all.

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