There was a couple named Kristen and Ole. They had four children, but one of them was a cripple, they called him so most of the time. His name was Hans when otherwise described. He had been a normal child, but had gotten sick. Then he couldn’t walk. He stayed in bed. He was not idle. He spent a large amount of his time knitting things to sell for the benefit of the family.
A lady who lived nearby gifted Hans with a storybook. The parents did not know what would become of a storybook, but did acknowledge that Hans could not spend all of his time knitting. Hans read the book and re-read the book. He read it over and over and over again. He read his family stories, which they came to enjoy. The stories made them think and made them question their lives, religion, and things in general.
After some time a schoolmaster came to speak with Hans. He came again, and again, and taught Hans all mannder of things. Hans soaked up the knowledge that the school master gave to him.
More gifts came to Hans as well. The very same lady who had given him the book, also gave him a little bird, which Hans enjoyed very much. One day, the house cat was eyeing up the bird and Hans just knew the cat would eat his bird. Hans yelled at the cat, but it didn’t do any good. He threw his book at the cat, but he missed. Finally, when it seemed the cat would get the bird right in front of Hans, he sprang from the bed and onto his feet. He could walk!
He was so excited that he ran all the way to the schoolmaster. Hans did walk again and he became quite smart. He left his family to go elsewhere, but they kept the story book as a remembrance of Hans and what happened to him.
Hans the cripple, poor kid, even his parents went around calling him “the cripple.”
Just FYI, this is politically incorrect language these days. You’re supposed to use “people first” language. So you wouldn’t say “an autistic person,” you would say, “a person who has autism.” The idea is not to define a person by a disease or defect and define them as a person first, before anything else. You’re not Diabetes Phil, you’re Phil who has diabetes.
People disregarded Hans because he had some kind of disease, probably polio, and couldn’t walk. They looked over him as if he weren’t there at all. We do this all the time. We do it with lots of things. We do it unconsciously in many instances. In our minds, somehow a person is determined as not a whole person, if they’re in a wheelchair, or if they have autism, or if they’re overweight, or whatever the case may be. We tend to define people by a characteristic rather than who that person is. A person is not just one thing, so why do we treat them that way?
These people thought in their heads, “That cripple kid is going to be in that room for the rest of his life, better give him a book to entertain himself.” Never did they think, “This kid is going to become a scholar.” They didn’t expect something like that of him because he had a disability. Stephen Hawking is in a wheelchair and requires a large amount of help and medical intervention on a day-to-day basis, but does that mean he accomplished less because of it? He accomplished anyway, despite what was going on with his health. As long as a person is a person, they can do and accomplish things, no matter what characteristic or disability you may see as a detriment.
Good for Hans.
What would Hans’ life have been like without reading?
Do you think Hans found solace in being able to travel through the written word?