Dr. Gary North often inspires me with his quirky and passionate writing. He did so today with his latest Reality Check (May 3, 2005):
At church on Sunday evening, I had a special treat: a concert by the Miracles. It cheered me up, and it seemed to cheer them up.
The Miracles are a group of 22 singers. . . . What makes them unique is that all of them suffer from mental retardation. Some seem only mildly afflicted. Others are suffering from what most of us would regard as a considerable disability. Two of them clearly had Down's Syndrome. During the self-introduction period, one of the women had trouble remembering her last name. . . .
The sound they make as a group is high quality. In person, they were not flawless, but they were as presentable as any well-trained choir in a local congregation.
Their performance included some solos. With one exception, their individual singing was not impressive. They just did not have the talent. There were missed notes. Yet as a group, the Miracles sound remarkable.
Individually, they have varying clarity of speech. Some spoke haltingly. Yet their enunciation in the singing was fine. I could hear every word. . . .
There is a lesson here. It was the main lesson I drew from the concert. What we lack as individuals, we can compensate for through cooperation in a group effort.
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
The Miracles are a visual and audible testimony to the productivity of the division of labor. Each singer specializes. Each has a niche in the overall spectrum of sound. As soloists, with one exception, they would not have thrilled listeners. Yet, somehow, in a joint effort, what they produced was first-rate. Coming out of the mouths of these afflicted people, who individually seemed bereft of talent, the music was special — not special in the sense of "special education," but special in the sense of uniquely uplifting.
It was not that their music was perfect. It was that it was so much better than what we hear in person most of the time. When they walked onto the stage, they were visibly handicapped. Some stepped as aged people do: unsure, halting. It took some direction to get them lined up. Yet once they began singing, they were clearly in charge of the music . . . and the audience.
. . . When the concert was over, the audience rose to give the Miracles a standing ovation. The Miracles could see, once again, that they had exceeded the expectations of the audience. They could enjoy what, as individuals, most people never experience: the visible, enthusiastic acclamation of a crowd. They knew that their work had exceeded expectations.
Service to others is important for our sense of self-worth. So is positive feedback. The Miracles provide a service. They get the satisfaction of pleasing thousands of people every year.
Have you ever thought what your kids are able to do that might make them stand out from the crowd, that would provide pleasure to others–i.e., that others would value?
Are you helping them develop that skill and gain the confidence–whether on their own or in a group–to perform at their highest level?
I thought this "message" from The Miracles was worth passing on.
By the way: to find out more about The Miracles, see The Baddour Center "Community Life" webpage under the "Expressive Arts Department" subhead. Or listen to a performance (Flash Player required).