Karl K nig, founder of the Camphill movement, once wrote:
I can help my brother only if I see the helper in him, [and] the receiver of help in me.
You will find throughout the Camphill movement a strong sense that people with special needs bring special gifts to the planet perhaps exactly the needful gifts in our time. These folks can teach us the virtues our culture has largely disregarded for example, the virtue of attending fully to the person immediately in front of us. Rose Edwards, a former Camphill worker, once told me,
I worked for eighteen years with extremely disabled children, and to this day I can recommend it as a tremendous background for life. Everything had to be exaggerated: you had to speak more slowly, be more patient, plan more carefully, be more present in the moment.
Her own manner of deliberate, thoughtful speech gave uncommon emphasis to her testimony. Hearing her words, I couldn't help thinking of the contemporary habit (often proclaimed a virtue) of divided attention. I also thought of the fabled ethic of Silicon Valley, with its pride in raw efficiency, in supreme technical ability, and in "don't get in my way or I'll run you down" aggressiveness. At Camphill the whole point is to allow the other person to get in our way. That's how we begin to see him for who he is, and thereby discover something about who we are something other than what our preferred mirrors tell us.
When you create an environment like that, remarkable things begin to happen. What often catches people's attention about Camphill is the extraordinary and unanticipated development their loved ones undergo there. Part of this is owing to the special gifts the villagers bring with them. K nig has remarked that, while we can often gain efficiency and speed by ignoring those with special needs, in some matters they may possess a speed and ability far surpassing our own. As a writer at the United Kingdom's Botton Village Camphill has put it:
All kinds of issues can be discussed with far more grasp by people who are normal, yet the generosity of nature, the power of commitment to ideals, the capacity of forgiveness in those with special needs can be disconcerting to say the least. In the end, living with people with special needs is living with people and this is a symphonic task in which, at any time, any instrument can soar upwards and lead the melody to the accompaniment of all the other instruments in the orchestra.