Sometimes people who have endured the worst of human nature are the ones who come to embody the human spirit at its best. With that in mind, we would like to close our December 2017 issue by quoting these words of Mr. Bernardo Rodriguez Flores of the Better Living Consumer Cooperative in the Philippines. He spoke them on a visit to Japan earlier this year, when he participated in a panel discussion that formed part of a symposium on leprosy history and heritage (see #85, p.3).
“If we ourselves did not become sick with leprosy and experience the pain, the shame, the insults, struggles and separation from loved ones, perhaps we would not be as strong as we are and would not understand the feelings and sufferings of people affected by leprosy,” he said.
“I believe that whether or not we have leprosy, our future is determined by the choices that we make. I realize that I still have the privilege to be happy and enjoy my life, for it is only a matter of choice.
“The most important thing is to be kind and compassionate to everyone, especially the less fortunate. To be aware of not to discriminate against people because of their ailments, disabilities and appearance. People who have leprosy are among the kindest and most compassionate people.”
Thank you, Mr. Flores, for these beautiful thoughts.