We are used to the concept and terminology "special needs" usually in conjunction with children with a variety of disabilities. Many are physical, some emotional, some mental. We live in a society which respects and cares for our members who need extra help.
Then there are adults with the same diagnosis. Many have grown from childhood into that category, others have acquired that status by virtue of illness or accident or other traumatic injuries.
But when I look around me I see that most of us are "special needs" people. This is not meant to demean or lessen the difficulties of who are traditionally "special needs" individuals. However, none of us escapes the emotional and physical challenges of life without some degree of suffering and disability. We often don't reveal them for fear of appearing weak and inadequate. Just as often we seek to hide these frailties by presenting an outwardly aggressive or confident appearance. It is frequently a facade.
And yet we tend to see these external qualities in people and react to them. We may find ourselves becoming angry or aggressive in response to what we seen as threats to our own defense mechanism.
The result is uncomfortable confrontations, unhappiness and suffering.
Our challenge is to realize that all human beings have "special needs". We must try to see past the defensive posturing which triggers similar reactions within us as well.
The Buddhists answer the question as to the reason for suffering in the world by responding–that's how we learn compassion for others. We recognize our common human frailties–that we are all "special needs" people.