You, my manly friend – you of the well defined muscles, of the 500 pound squat and 250 pound bench press and you, also, of the 12 hour work days and survivor of Rangers training – you would be reduced to sniveling mush by one day in a wheelchair.

Think you know what human dignity is? Try retaining your dignity while going to the bathroom with a colostomy bag. Try being a tough guy when you know that any kid or dog, or old lady, has more freedom and mobility than you do. Football heroes, Olympic stars, bodybuilding champs – you don’t know what toughness means until you watch a parapalegic get through the day.

What can a man do in the face of the truly heroic – not the tritely media hyped heroism we see so much of in the course of modern life? First of all, thank your lucky stars. The genetic defect, the drunken driver, the freak accident – most serious injuries, with the exception of those incurred in warfare – are the result of accident that none of us can control. Secondly, if you happen to have contact with the handicapped in the normal course of life, treat them as you would like to be treated if had their handicap; not with the aversion born of fear, or with condescension, or even blind admiration, but with the respect for someone who, every day, is facing a tremendous struggle to make life worth living. And, in countless cases, doing an absolutely staggering job of succeeding. The guy in the wheelchair just going about his daily business may be the manliest man of all.

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