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Succeeding despite the odds - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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On YouTube, his popularity now exceeds clips of famous Arab celebrities and internet stars. I do not know if a documentary like this has ever received such enormous attention from the public, or not. The story is narrated by the young man himself, as he details his fight against a severe disability that has deprived him the use of all his limbs, and how he has overcome it. He is a university graduate, a journalist, and a man with big dreams. It seems a five minute video has been enough to awaken many of those who suffer from the worst kind of disability: the disease of surrendering to failure.

“Ammar” is the name of the film, and also the name of its hero. It was produced by Bader al-Humoud and has touched the hearts of millions of people. Yet their love is not out of sympathy for Ammar Bogis the disabled, but rather their admiration for Ammar Bogis the successful, despite of everything. The story is a source of pride because he triumphed over many challenges and won the battle of his life after a difficult struggle to overcome his condition and the condition of his society.

His story, which has awakened the idle and the helpless, and likewise stoked the inspiration of the aspiring, coincided with the Paralympics in London and hence it received a mass audience. The Paralympics showcased the best disabled athletes in the world, whether blind, amputees, or those suffering from cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. Some of them used wheelchairs, others used walking sticks, and others used sight guides, but they all competed on the racetrack, in team sports, or horseback, in the swimming pool and elsewhere.

The message is clear to all…real disability is a lack of will, and the Paralympics were nothing other than a celebration of the successful. For example, we would see a 100 meter race between disabled athletes with prosthetic legs, running into the wind, and one would come through to win the gold medal to the amazement and admiration of the crowd.

Society’s problem is not in engaging with those inflicted with physical disabilities, because these people are often the most driven and determined. The problem lies in those inflicted with helplessness and dependency even though they are able-bodied, searching for excuses for their inactivity, and placing the blame on others. These excusers and accusers are the ones most in need of Ammar’s example so that they become aware that life is in their own court, and success is produced by their own hands. Young people should not be inflicted with the spirit of dependency, and wait for opportunities to knock at their doors, rather they should be the ones urgently beating down doors and seeking success.

If Ammar was determined to climb the stairs in spite of everything, and finished his studies and received a graduate diploma, then everyone can do so and climb the ladder like him. Like Ammar, there are also the dozens who participated in the London Paralympics and won gold medals. With these examples we can fight the worst disease in our society today, frustration, and its symptoms: feelings of helplessness, a sense of failure, and a sense of marginalization. In order to do so we must ask those we wrongly label “disabled” to come forward and lead the frustrated to the starting line.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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