Luca Badetti: Embrace Your Inabilities
We are taught to hide our inabilities, socially glorifying and displaying our strengths. Dr. Luca Badetti tries to embrace both abilities and inabilities, arguing that this is an important way to become more complete and connected human beings: by encountering disability.
Professor at Loyola and instructor at DePaul University as director of the Community Life at L’Arche, holding a PhD in Disability Studies, in his TED Talk, Luca shares powerful stories from his live-in experience with persons with and without intellectual disabilities, inviting everyone to befriend and accept their own perceived limitations, and to stimulate human growth.
"I often wonder, 'Where are people with disabilities?'. We don't really see them in the places where culture is made. If you don't see them around, ask yourself where they are, and why."
— Luca Badetti
Luca Badetti (guest): I often wonder, “Where are people with disabilities?” We don’t really see them a whole lot in the places where culture is made. When I walk down… when I go downtown, I rarely see somebody with an intellectual disability and I’m like, “Where are they?” So I think already getting in touch with that question, what are the neighborhood they live in, wherever, if you don’t see people with disabilities ask yourself, “Where are they?” and try to find that out and see why they are where they are. Generally they are at the margins of everything. And so asking ourselves, “Why are they at the margins of everything?” And how can we meet them how can we bridge the gap.”
Simone Salis (host): I am Simone Salis and this is Hoomans with today’s guest, Luca Badetti.
S. Salis: We are taught to hide our inabilities and to socially glorify and display our strengths. Dr. Luca Badetti tries to embrace both abilities and inabilities, arguing that this is an important way to become a more complete and connected human beings by encountering disability. Professor at Loyola and instructor at DePaul University as director of the Community Life at L’Arche, Holding a PhD in disability status, in his Ted Talk, Luca shares powerful stories from his live-in experience with persons with and without intellectual disabilities, inviting everyone to befriend and accept their own perceived limitations to stimulate human growth. Luca, I want to start from Rome because that’s where you were born and this is where I was born, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to drive insane everybody listening with a double stereo accent. (Laughs). I’ve known you for a while but I am not entirely sure you were born exactly in the city of Rome.
L. Badetti: I was born in room. I lived in Ostia which is the beach side of Rome, close to the Sea, which is still special place for me.
S. Salis: Why?
L. Badetti: I think there is a breath and openness when you are in front of the sea that is… allows you to breed well. Now that I live in Chicago. I like the fact there is water here but I do miss the salt of the sea. There is not a word, I think, for sea salt. In Italian, its called “salsedine”.
S. Salis: Yeah.
L. Badetti: But I don’t think there is a word for it in English. But I do miss “salsedine”.
S. Salis: So just to try to explain better, “salsedine” is the presence of the salt in the atmosphere like the salt what you can find in the air. And whoever knows the…
L. Badetti: It stays on your skin and…
S. Salis: It does.
L. Badetti: Yeah.
S. Salis: It creates all that clear which is peculiar. It’s also a kind of a… you can… you can use your nose and it just goes up and it evokes a lot of… It’s crazy. We didn’t talk about this, but whoever knows me well, knows that I… sometimes I just say, “I miss the salt water.” So I say the same thing about… I’m not sure for the reason, but when I go to California, I feel better, I just… I can breathe the sea. And that’s crazy, I can share that experience I…
L. Badetti: Yes, because I stayed in Ostia basically, he works in logistics. In the land, I did more schooling, I live on the outskirts of the city. I was about to sign up for language School.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: Like a high school where you learn languages.
S. Salis: Right.
L. Badetti: But I guess I learned the language here, English, because we moved here around 14 or so.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: It was because of my dad’s job. And then, here in the US, I’ve lived in different cities, mostly on the East Coast.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: But I moved to Chicago a lot of years ago for the doctor in the disability studies.
S. Salis: So you moved here, you started an American High School, where in the East Coast?
L. Badetti: In Connecticut, close to New York.
S. Salis: Alright.
L. Badetti: When I was in high school, I was in an English-as-a-second-language classroom. Other classrooms were integrated but with other… with native speakers. But, you know, I was learning English alongside people from, you know, Albania, Peru, Haiti, South Korea, which was so interesting because you got to know a lot of different people, even if you can barely talk.
S. Salis: How did you connect with that? How did you feel that? Because you moved here when… well, you are not an adult yet, but also you are not in your infancy years. So probably the language and adapting to the culture had some sort of impact. How did that make you feel?
L. Badetti: It was an interesting sort of limbo. In some way, I was in an American high school but at the same time, I wasn’t really fully integrated in it. I mean… or included so to speak. I mean, I was there but I think relationally, I had more interactions with people from other countries. It was a sort of mixed experience. So for example, in the cafeteria, I usually sit with the International Group. And you know, conversations were very basic like, “How’s the sandwich?” And we would, “Okay,” you know, like very basic English conversation.
S. Salis: Gestures.
L. Badetti: Gestures and stuff.
S. Salis: Well that’s in our DNA, isn’t it?
L. Badetti: Yeah.
S. Salis: (Laughs)
L. Badetti: Yeah, it comes good. But that’s the thing though, it was a mixed experience.
S. Salis: Did you know you would stay over 20 years here? Right now…
L. Badetti: No. As a matter of fact, when I left, I didn’t think a whole lot about it. I guess I was, you know, I remember before leaving I was sad that I was going to leave a friend’s, etc, and yet there was also an openness to the new. So then when I came to high school, I sort of just did it. However at the same time, I used to have all of the summers off; 3 months or I don’t remember however long it was.
S. Salis: Did you go back?
L. Badetti: And I used to go to Rome. Yes, I used to go back. So Rome has always kept a sense of home because it’s the place where I came from that I returned to. After High School, I decided to go to college. And I think in college it was easier to interact with… you know, I was more comfortable with language and it sort of… you know?
S. Salis: Did you feel more integrated?
L. Badetti: Yes, I think so. I think in high school, I was part of a small group that I didn’t necessarily choose. I found myself in that group. It was a nice group but, you know, After High School, I’ve only kept in touch with a few of those people. But I think in college, it was more of, you know, there were many people around and I could sort of nurture and establish the relationship that I wanted and that, you know, sort of presented themselves.
S. Salis: High School it wasn’t a conscious choice, it was more a necessity since you just moved in the language was not, you didn’t have the same grasp that you had on English when you went to college and that allowed you, the language itself. Does… doesn’t that feel… I feel like every person in their adult life move to another country for a second, they believe that they are skills go down a few notches. (Laughs). When I first moved here, I had to struggle ordering a sandwich. And now, here I am pretending to be able to host a show or just… (Laughs)
L. Badetti: And you eat a lot of sandwiches.
S. Salis: Right, yeah, that’s lots of sandwiches all together. But it does… does that create a difference? Does… you know?
L. Badetti: I don’t know if I felt that my skills went down. The language is… I think language but also culture, you know, you sort of have to… especially when you are in a foreign country, you sort of have to, you know, used to that necessarily. And so will you have to observe and see what is happening and it takes time for that.
S. Salis: And eventually that becomes part of you, if you observe enough that you integrate with those parts, right?
L. Badetti: I’m not sure what is integrated and what I didn’t.
S. Salis: When you went to high school, when you… at some point it was clear that you decide before apply for college. And what did you apply for?
L. Badetti: Communications in Theology and a minor in Philosophy and in Mental Health and Human Services. I was interested in exploring the human person holistically. I have always been sort of a sensitive person but I wondered if during high school, you know, sort of not really fitting in with the majority so to speak gave me some space to ponder on some questions about the human journey and I then continued examining in University.
S. Salis: After college, you also worked on a Master’ degree and then a doctorate, right? And you
L. Badetti: Well, as a matter of fact, things just presented themselves. I knew that I wanted to go to college in this small University where spirituality was given a certain importance. And while I was studying with your, right when I finished basically, around the time I finished, so I was already exploring questions about humanity and the human journey during college. But then I discovered this community called L’Arche and these people with and without disabilities live together, and I felt and interior invitation to join that Community as a school of life, so I ended up joining it. After 1 year of living in L’Arche close to the Boston area, I went on to continue my studies in the human person and I went to do my masters in Clinical Psychology. In the psychology discipline however, sometimes… sometimes disability was seen as bad and sad. So it’s a negative thing. And I said and I’m like, you know, I’ve had a different experience. Disability can have a lot of light to it. I remember getting up from the classroom, I was doing a psychology class, I went to the library, went on the computer and search disability studies Ph.D, and it was like that. I don’t know where it came from but I searched it and UIC came up which is a college here in Chicago; The University of Illinois. I emailed the person that worked for the Department and I came here for the interview and they accepted me. So I remained opened it to my interests as I developed and I found opportunities where I could deepen that interest.
S. Salis: Disability studies for the way that I’m understanding it’s interconnected with the disciplinary field.
L. Badetti: Exactly.
S. Salis: So you did have Clinical Psychology, you said. And of course you also have information in Theology and Philosophy that probably connects you to Social Studies too, right?
L. Badetti: Exactly.
S. Salis: And all those together are relatively a new field, a new understanding of disabilities and in general like human abilities, which is disability studies. So it allows you to approach it in a different way from what was exclusively Clinical Psychology.
L. Badetti: Exactly.
S. Salis: And there was also your experience at L’Arche. Like L’Arche experience allowed you to understand that there was more than something less and a different approach of that actually can empower.
L. Badetti: Exactly, and that disability speaks about us all. So that’s a big difference. It’s not just them versus us, but it speaks about us all. I am thinking in particular about intellectual disabilities. And…
S. Salis: That’s what L’Arche is about, right?
L. Badetti: We welcome people with intellectual disabilities, some also physical disabilities, yes.
S. Salis: Okay. What mainly…
L. Badetti: Intellectual.
S. Salis: Intellectual, because the founder….
L. Badetti: So the founder was visiting and studied L’Arche, Jean Vanier, was visiting and started L’Arche even there without planning it. He visited an institution for people with disabilities in the 1960’s in France. He visited this institution, he was struck with a need for friendship that the people with disabilities had. Back then, and unfortunately it still happens, people with disabilities were locked up and basically in an institution in big numbers. And how can you develop friendships and engagement with society if you are behind walls?
S. Salis: I am Simone Salis and this is Hoomans with today’s guest, Luca Badetti, professor of disability status at Loyola University and director of communing live at L’Arche.
What I find interesting in this kind of organization is that, L’Arche is actually a community oriented organization, as compared to like a client approach.
L. Badetti: So in fact, when Jean went…
S. Salis: A patient.
L. Badetti: Yeah. When John went to this institution, he met Rapha and Phillip which were two people with disabilities. And he invited them to start community with him and live together in a small home close to the institution. It started out as a Catholic… Catholic grounded community and then people began to be interested in this new way of living together; sharing meals, working together, hanging out, praying together, etc. And they’ve been in to different countries and cultures. So L’Arche came to Canada after France and we became a humanical and it studied in Indiana and it became inter-religious. And I work in Chicago Community where I’m director of community life. And we have people who are Christian, Jewish, people we know who don’t identify with a specific religious traditions.
S. Salis: So it’s faith-based but it’s also Multicultural.
L. Badetti: It’s a faith community, yeah.
S. Salis: And the way that it works and as you said, there are people with intellectual disabilities who or physical in addition to that, and people who are without what is defined as a classic like a disability.
L. Badetti: Yeah. So the people with disabilities were called core members.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: Core meaning heart in Latin Carrie, because at the heart of community, and the assistant to come to share life with them. And I was an assistant.
S. Salis: For how long?
L. Badetti: Well, I was an assistant in the Boston Community for about a year. So I live with my housemates where people with disabilities in the home. And then I was a live-out assistant in the DC Community because I was doing my Master’s during that time and so I couldn’t live sometime in the community, but I used to help out when they needed help overnight. And then I did some time in Rome and France. I had a few months before coming to Chicago.
S. Salis: What’s… what’s a day, what’s a regular day in L’Arche community? How does like this integrated Community work?
L. Badetti: Yeah, so it depends from community to community and really from home to home. So our community in Chicago has 3 homes on the Westside. In each home, there is about 3 to 4 core members, people with disabilities, and about 3 to 4 assistants or volunteers.
S. Salis: So the ratio is 1:1?
L. Badetti: Almost.
S. Salis: Yeah.
L. Badetti: I would say, you know, we share life, we leave ordinary life together. So waking up, having breakfast, then core members go to work because they have jobs usually within the community. So one of our core members work… works as a supermarket as a bagger, another as a restroom waitress, a few of our core members work as artist in a studio. So they go to work during the day and then they come home, 2 to 3 PM and they hang out with the assistants. And they make meals together, they have a dinner and then they clean up and maybe watch a movie, relax. So it’s basically ordinary life together.
S. Salis: What are the goals of a community like that? And what is the spirit, the mission of a community like L’Arche? And I would say yours, because, you know, to believe in that, they must overlap a little bit, right?
L. Badetti: Yeah. I think I start with mine, because I bring myself to it, it is easy to idealize community or to speak about community for ourselves. I think it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer that said, “Whoever loves people builds community, but whoever loves community can destroy it.” In other words, if we take the idea of community, it’s like when you find love in a couple and you love the idea of being married more than you actually love your wife, husband whatever.
S. Salis: Yeah.
L. Badetti: So it’s always people first.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: So if I have to think about what I… what has drawn me to the community, it’s that people with disabilities as I was mentioning, reveal us what it means to be human. I think with people with developed intellectual capacity can easily hide behind ideas and thoughts. They can create castles in the air. But people with disabilities often they are very close to the heart, there are less masks, there is great authenticity. The people without intellectual disabilities might hide a bit more. Being with people with intellectual disabilities, entering into friendship with them, helps to see what it means to live from the heart.
S. Salis: I’ve known you for a while and you’re a very physical person in a friendly way, in a warm friendly way. You’re definitely a hooker (Laughs). And your smile is, you know, it’s present. You’re a person who smiles incredibly, an incredible amount all the time that you spend it together. And I have been looking to pictures of you with L’Arche members or in those occasions and I have not been able to find a single picture where there is not, you know, a friendly and warm human contact; a hug or just simply like everybody holding each other. And since you’re telling me that, there’s also a sense of validation and acceptance that is needed. And sometimes people with intellectual ability and the disabilities have a hard time feeling from other members of a society with or without those kind of things. And you know, part of the community-at-L’Arche is about interdependence and relationships and building the kind of strength of a community. Is that physical part also very important of… an important component of what you were telling me right now, I mean, living close to the heart?
L. Badetti: Yeah. As a matter of fact, that’s a very good point; the importance of the body. In different ways, first of all, I am… Yeah, I am an affectionate person and I communicate myself through the body. I mean, we all do, but I think it’s really important. And I do that with my friends, family, etc, etc. In L’Arche, we give a lot of importance to the physical aspect of life. And by physical, we don’t just mean the body, but we mean sharing food, we mean being present to each other when we hang out. It means looking at people with respect. Oftentimes, people with disabilities have received a look of pity. The look we and I wanted to give to people with disabilities is a look at that says, that, “You are valued that you are precious.” The way we speak to them, oftentimes people with disabilities have been spoken to as inferior. So in my toning, the words I see, I wanted to tell them that they are equal to me. So…
S. Salis: How do these kind of communities improve a person with intellectual disabilities live in allowing them to develop the best of their abilities and, you know, develop as a human being?
L. Badetti: I think these communities… and it’s because from my experience. They help people… they can help people know that they belong and that they have gifts to give. But it reveals that also to the assistants, also to the people without disabilities because, again, we don’t want us to fall into the US versus them. We don’t even want to idolize people with disabilities as the gifted ones. We all have gifts. The important thing is to find places where we can live out of those gifts instead of break those gifts together. Unfortunately however, they give us of people with disabilities throughout history have often been oppressed.
S. Salis: Even just… you know, sometimes I think about a beautiful term. And in complete honesty, in complete honesty, I… growing up I remember blaming myself for having kind of, I guess, subconsciously that approach that feeling of like seeing a disabled person of any kind and feeling that kind of pity/compassion. And I wondered how I can avoid feeling that construct that I have no right to express over another human being. Whatever their shape, whatever their function, whatever they’re being. And I feel that I never found an answer for that specifically. But you are touching a point that, you know, if… I feel like just by that, me and every other person that had that embedded growing up or maybe because the way I am. I don’t want to put it entirely on society. Maybe I was born judgmental, which I don’t now. I mean, it’s nothing that I act on or I am power. But I used to notice it and now I think I don’t anymore. But I always wondered, am I really stripping a person of their potential because I am having that attitude? Are we stripping? Like whoever has that, are they really stripping? And without the guilt, but I’m saying, is it a fact, do you think that influences stripping a person of their potential expression and full evolution?
L. Badetti: I think the answer is to meet people with disabilities and befriend them. Often, people… and there’s also been researched on but, you know, when there is Group homes in neighborhoods, sure, the home is present there, but socially, it tends to be excluded often from the neighborhood. And when they interviewed the neighbors, sometimes the answer is, “I don’t quite know how to interact with them. What am I going to do? I’m going to go knock on the door and what am I going to do?” So I think that fear can be surpassed by meeting people.
S. Salis: By just interacting.
L. Badetti: Yeah.
S. Salis: More and more.
L. Badetti: Yeah.
S. Salis: I think there is the… an, again, I’m probably going to sound very… I think there is the feeling that you need to do something different or special.
L. Badetti: Yeah.
S. Salis: And… and… you know, and I sometimes not in a positive way. Like sometimes, you feel like you need to adapt yourself but not as just a way to interact with somebody differently, but it becomes non-genuine. I think the embarrassment comes from the necessity to do something more or different than you are not used to. And so the lack of knowledge of that simplicity of the interaction that you were talking about is what becomes a barrier.
L. Badetti: And yet, once you and counter… I mean, even, you know, in my experience, you know, I know Christian, Tom, etcetera etcetera, and the disability sort of… their disability diagnosis sort of in the background. It’s not as prominent as some people might think it is.
S. Salis: I am Simone Salis and this is Hoomans. You can listen to every episode on your favorite podcast app or with a full transcript available on hoomans.org. Today’s guest is Luca Badetti, Professor of a disability studies at the Loyola and DePaul University.
I have seen your Ted Talk and I… you know, it was an invite embrace our inabilities as human beings, and not necessarily disabilities, it’s a different war; to embrace our disabilities, because of course that would not be the case.
L. Badetti: Well, I have an update from that talk.
S. Salis: (Laughs).
L. Badetti: The idea of the talk was that, we all like things that we can do and that we cannot do. Of course the things that we can do our grade because we grow up and we develop our skills and we learn new things, etc. But there are also things that we cannot do, our inanities. And it’s good to embrace them because they make us more human in the sense that they help us accept our limit. And it makes us into a more connected people. Because when I cannot do something, I can ask you to help me, so we come together.
S. Salis: And then I can say no.
L. Badetti: And then you can say no.
S. Salis: (Laughs)
L. Badetti: There is an interaction. And during the talk, I mentioned about abilities and inabilities of my friends with disabilities. And then I ended up speaking about mine.
S. Salis: I’m curious about that because, you know, if your point is, “Embrace your inabilities,” what are yours?
L. Badetti: At one point I kind of used to say that, “We are all disabled.” And then somebody started… somebody who has the experience of physical disabilities, one of my professors actually, you know, sort of questioned to that. I know there is people that say they are disabled and some that say that they are not. I see you think of that one example that bring it alive for me, is that, you know, I have a friend with pretty substantial disabilities, physical, etc. “If we start saying that we are all disabled, how are we going to secure social health services, etc, for him?” you know? So if we start blurring the lines too much, then it’s like, “What about someone we know who really needs certain support?” you know? Disability studies the word disability itself is put into question. A social model of disability differently from a medical model that sees disability as an individual problem to be fixed. The system model sales, “Disability is a social construction.” In other words, you can have a medical impairment but when society marginalizes you because of the medical impairment or that does not support you because of the medical impairment…
S. Salis: That segregation.
L. Badetti: … it disables you.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: So that’s how disability is created by society. For example, think about someone on a wheelchair, okay? We think that person is physically disabled. Let’s say that there is a ramp for that person to get into a building. That person would be able to move around. If there is no ramp, that person is disabled from entering. So where is the disability, in the person or in the social structure? The social model says that it’s in social structure. Of course these are a bit extreme, black and white examples. I think often realities, you know, are in the middle or in the gray areas. And so I decided to speak about in abilities, which is because it’s something that I think we can all agree we all share and we all have something that we all cannot do. And one of the things that I have brought into the talk is something about coordination. In sports or dancing, you know, I do not have a great ability to be coordinated; ability to be a coordinated. Now, I have an update on that. But…
S. Salis: Physical movements are not…
L. Badetti: Physical movement, in that sense.
S. Salis: For what sport requires or performance requires.
L. Badetti: Right, right.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: And I was okay with that. I mean, I was okay with that in so far as, “Our inabilities do not have to be big, heavy things. You know, they can be simple things in daily life.” However, I did experience how much more profound inability. Last year I felt sick because something happened to my heart, which has since healed. It was almost like a heart attack. This was last year, I was sick in bed with my throat, I had fever, etc. And I experienced a strange heart movement and I felt headache, I felt that something was happening inside me that I didn’t quite know what it was. So I got up off of my bed to go knock on the door of my housemate because I knew something was off. And so he took me to the hospital. And I go into the hospital, they did, you know, tests. At first they thought it was a heart attack, and then you know, after a few days like technically it wasn’t, but some of the symptoms were like that. But of course I was very afraid. I mean, when I heard those words, you know?
S. Salis: Yeah, they tell you that you are having a…. you had a heart attack.
L. Badetti: Exactly.
S. Salis: And you’re barely 30.
L. Badetti: It’s like I was very afraid and…
S. Salis: Of course. How long did you stay in the hospital?
L. Badetti: I ended up staying in the hospital for a few days maybe around 3 days or something. It’s interesting because once you where they are, your sense of time, especially in the beginning is kind of like off of it. But I was there for a few days.
S. Salis: For all you knew, you had a heart attack.
L. Badetti: But it was very confusing because they themselves were trying to figure it out. And I experience than profound inability to control my body and the control life. I didn’t know if I was going to be alive the next day or not. Really, I mean, because we have something from the heart. If you have like a wound on your leg, you can put a Band-Aid, you can sort of try to work with it. There isn’t one for the heart, you know?
S. Salis: Right.
L. Badetti: So I felt a very frail and very afraid. And it was a moment of deep anguish; it was a moment of deep anguish.
S. Salis: There is a moment that some people experience, some likely don’t, but when you realize that, “You don’t have that much control over your body.” And that’s… that’s all you know, some sort of revelation that you believe through and you go like, “Oh, that’s how it works. I have very little control over it and everything might just (Snap).” (Laughs)
L. Badetti: And that’s where the inte.. like actually, intellectually, I might have known that, right? We all know that we don’t know when we’re going to die, etc.
S. Salis: Right.
L. Badetti: Or whatever will happen to us, we don’t know.
S. Salis: But then you see it.
L. Badetti: But then you experience it and it’s like, oh. And it’s a painful experience, it’s a painful experience. And, I mean, I went through it, the heart healed, so that’s good. But at the time, it was very hard. Somewhere within that, I also found in that inability, I also found a group of friends that came to be my community. So while I was in that hard moment, a group of friends came to be close to me. And they were my community. You and you came right away.
S. Salis: Yeah, I know, people need iPhone chargers even if hearts are failing. (Laughs)
L. Badetti: (Laughs). You also bought me socks which I still have and they’re very comfortable.
S. Salis: I know, I’m glad.
L. Badetti: Nice sock again, and I only wear them in the winter.
S. Salis: I want them back, by the way. (Laughs)
L. Badetti: (Laughs). You bought them for me.
S. Salis: Now you are well, you don’t need them. (Laughs)
L. Badetti: You got me a black T-shirt.
S. Salis: A black T-shirt sounds really like me.
L. Badetti: And you bought me a phone charger. And then a few other people… a few other friends and then I sort of really saw who my friends were, you know? I remember one who came and the food at the hospital was not incredible. And the next day, she brought it to me, she had cooked it at home and she brought it to me. And one of the beautiful things about it is that she brought a little tablecloth to put on my tray and she beautified the space in that space which is not necessarily the most appealing aesthetically. So I’m very grateful for these friends.
S. Salis: So how… how… what was your inability?
L. Badetti: My inability to control my body and life. It is a very existential inability. And we all have it. I came to a deep realization of it. And then I went back home, my parents came to visit, etc. And I almost had to relearn some things about my body and about my limit, about how much can I… how much pressure can I put and how much is too much. So I sort of in getting back at listening to… to myself and…
S. Salis: Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, one of the things that he says is that, “We are whole with our bodies and we are our bodies.” And that’s also a very important component, right, of just… and also the moment of growth starts whenever we start to acknowledge our weaknesses.
L. Badetti: For me, the body has become… I mean, it’s so important because you meet people with our bodies become a we see them through our eyes, we can hug them, we listen through our ears. I like that even for… when we say, “That was a nourishing conversation,” we use the terminology which is so physical even for a conversation. And I think it has also informed my spirituality that what is most profound human is also very spiritual. So we encounter God through the body.
S. Salis: Are you a religious person?
L. Badetti: Yes.
S. Salis: And any specific faith?
L. Badetti: I’m Catholic.
S. Salis: Roman Catholic?
L. Badetti: Yes.
S. Salis: Well, we were born there.
L. Badetti: You live with a bishop is there?
S. Salis: Yeah, it’s a guy, he’s funny.
L. Badetti: It’s nice that we have somebody from Argentina.
S. Salis: Why? I’m not the Roman Catholic, even though I was born there. But…
L. Badetti: I like… Francis has been, I think, the recent openness I see in him to the world, which I think is important. We go back to the body, theology should not be divorced from the experience of people, from their voices, from what they live.
S. Salis: From the physical world.
L. Badetti: From what they see. Well, physical, but also the experience that they live. The people, they live the things that they are interested in. Theology goes through that. It’s not top-down but it’s bottom-up, it goes from the experience of people. Unfortunately, a lot of the theology has often been a bit too much top down. But I think if we listen to people, if we see what they experienced that we might find God in that too. And I think beauty is often hidden in the most for little, mundane things. And it’s there that we have to find God.
S. Salis: So you’re working so you’re working in a book and L’Arche founder, Jean Vanier, He’s working on the foreword. And he has been nominated as a Nobel Peace Prize, not winner, but he has been nominated which is about 20 million times over what I could ever hope for; maybe 10 million for you come up with 20 million for me, maybe more. And he’s a philosopher And he’s a philosopher his and he started what is a network of hundreds of communities with L’Arche. You mentioned the different places on planet Earth where you contributed to for this community.
L. Badetti: Where I was… yeah, sorry.
S. Salis: Yeah, you were leaving…
L. Badetti: Where I was a human.
S. Salis: Where you were a human, yeah, there we go. For people (unclear) [40:14] I believe the book you’re working on, the working title is ‘I Believe In You’. Why? Where does that come from?
L. Badetti: One evening I was leading a community event. So there were a lot of people around, we had a little program. And at the end of the evening, people started to leave this place. And I was sitting next to a core member, a friend with disability who has Down’s syndrome. She is a very spiritual lady. And I wanted to tell her about a faith doubt that I was experiencing. I knew that that wasn’t necessarily deciding for a long conversation on spirituality because, you know, it was kind of at the end of an evening when everyone else was… around was leaving. So I wanted to see if she had a word of wisdom or a feedback. And I spoke to her, she was sitting next to me, and I said, “I believe in God, but…” and I was going to tell her about my doubt. And the moment I said that, she looked at me in the eyes and she said, “I believe in you.” I believe in you twice. And what has stayed with me. So, yeah, we can talk about God, “Does God exist or not?” and this, “Do we believe in God or not?” But, “Do we believe in ourselves?” you know? Do we believe in ourselves? And that gave me the title for it.
S. Salis: I still don’t understand though. How is disability different from an inability? And why is it important for us to reconcile with our in abilities?
L. Badetti: Generally, disabilities are understood as intellectual, developmental, a physical impairment. We don’t all have that. In abilities, on the other hand, are a reality that we all share. It is basically anything that we cannot do.
S. Salis: How do you reconcile your personal experience with, you know, the medical problem that you had over a year ago, with your with your faith, with your spiritual approach to live? How can you… how did you frame… not how can you, I understand how one can but I want to know, how did you frame that? Because from what I believe, it was also for you a reason to grow spiritually and from an empathic.
L. Badetti: When I was in that situation, I didn’t know what to make of it. I didn’t know to inhabit at moment. And I think later, I sort of interpreted In more of a, you know, there are things that we can’t explain and we all have our crosses from Exeter.And I Think It’s Tricky when you want to explain something that we don’t know. And I think maybe we can just accept that it’s a mystery.
S. Salis: Would you avoid that situation? If you have the power now after a year to choose, would you avoid that event in your life and erase it and hope it never happened, if you could choose?
L. Badetti: Well, I don’t like to go back. And generally, that’s why I try not to have like remorses or regrets, etc, like looking back, “Oh, if I did that or if I did the other thing,” you don’t know.
S. Salis: Well, you had no choice. This was not a choice that you had at the time. So it’s not like picking out a blue shirt or a regular shirt and the saying, if you had the opportunity to avoid a major physical…
L. Badetti: In the future?
S. Salis: Well, no, I’m saying in retrospect to the past. If you could erase that experience from your life, would you erase it?
L. Badetti: Well, I can see this, I wouldn’t want it again because I think as human beings, of course I want to be well.
S. Salis: Well, twice would be evil, wouldn’t it? (Laughs)
L. Badetti: Well, no, but just in general, I think… I mean, I’m not a masochist, I mean I love to be well, Etc. But it did happen and I accept that it did happen. And in some way, it has influenced me and it’s part of my history and I accept that.
S. Salis: Okay.
L. Badetti: And I embrace that. Yeah.
S. Salis: What do you think we can do, not just working specifically in a community, in a great Community like large, but what do you think we can do in our daily lives to empower and allow people with intellectual and physical disabilities as a single person? Simone, today, what is a social or personal Small Change of perspective that would make a great difference as a wave throughout the society towards people with disabilities?
L. Badetti: In meeting people with disabilities is a very important step. I often wonder, where are people with disabilities? Yes, we might see them once in a while working somewhere in a supermarket Or we may know there is a group of them at the mall walking together and Etc And former group Etc. And we don’t really see them a whole lot in the places where culture is made. When I work down… when I go downtown, I rarely see somebody with an intellectual disability and I’m like, “Where are they?” So I think already getting in touch with that question, whatever neighborhood we live in, wherever, if you don’t see anyone with disabilities, ask yourself where are they and to try to find that out and see why they are where they are. Generally there are on the margins of everything. And so asking ourselves, “Why they’re at the margins of everything?”And so asking ourselves, “ Why are they at the margins of everything? And how can we meet them how can we bridge the gap (unclear) [46:06].”
S. Salis: Thank you. Dr. Luca Badetti, today at Hoomans.
L. Badetti: Thank you.