Stephen Hawking and Disabilities

Stephen HawkingStephen Hawking just recently died. There is much about Hawking that I disagreed with. He denied the existence of God and thought heaven was a fairy tale. I suppose he knows the truth now.

But aside from his views on God, there was much about Stephen Hawking that was praiseworthy. Without looking at any other aspect of his life, he was a brilliant scholar. I still remember the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Stephen Hawking was included with Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein in a poker game. Hawking will continue to be placed among the scientific giants of our age.

As inspirational as his mind was, so was the his determination in the face of a severe disability. Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1963, when he was only 21 years old. He was given two years to live but died just a few days ago at the age of 76.

Hawking faced a number of challenges with his disability which included a continual loss of function. I’m sure there were many times that he was tempted to give up. But he kept going, continuing to teach and write. It was not that long ago that his final book came out.

What lessons can we learn from the life of Stephen Hawking? We are more than just a diagnosis and doctors cannot determine our destiny. It is up to us to make the best of our situation, determine to reach a goal and live life the best we can.

Stephen Hawking will long be an inspiration to people with disabilities. That may be a more valuable legacy than his contributions to science.

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