Today I saw a billboard that said, “What! Embryos are human, too.” “Hearts begins beating at 18 days.” But, a beating heart does not a human make. Hearts can beat long after all other functions are gone...and apparently before other functions begin. This blog is not about determining when an embryo becomes a human but about what would happen if all the embryos that would become mentally or physically disabled babies never came to term.
Medical tests can determine abnormalities in gene structure so early that no babies need be born with mental or physical problems.
Aside from the ethics of this – and I’m totally not prepared to debate that issue – what would our world be like if the people with Downs Syndrome or developmental disabilities simply did not exist.? What would happen to our ability to care for others?
This is a frightening thought to me. I’ve know a few people with disabilities, and I admit, I tend to shy away from them. My god-granddaughter is developmentally disabled. She called me the other day to tell me she would be going into the next grade – going into middle school. Though she cannot read more than a half dozen words and cannot count past ten, she will be promoted. But, the best part is that at the end of the message, she began to sing about how much she loved me and missed me and wished I would visit soon – in a voice so pure and holy.
Sissy is 12 now. She’s sat on my lap in church since she was tiny, and I have wonderful pictures of her Halloween costumes. She followed along with all the hymns as we sang, and I think she was learning the Lord’s Prayer before we moved. Now, her father (much older than her mother) has emphysema and heart problems which keep her at home, away from church. I grieve that loss. I wonder if she could read music; her voice is so wonderful.
And, another young man in our church has Down’s Syndrome, but he conducts the choir beautifully from his seat at the back of the church. And, he gets so excited when he receives communion. He gives great hugs and always remembers your face.
I’ve seen video clips of autistic geniuses. And, people with congenital disabilities that have done amazing things. And, I’ve heard the people who care for them speak – about how much strength and love is needed, but also about how much joy and pleasure their loved ones have brought into the world.
The world might be a much quieter place without people with such disabilities, but my life would be much poorer.
So it is with other marginalized people. The homeless who prefer to stay homeless, the GLBT community who bring so much color and liveliness into my life, the deaf whom most churches ignore,....ah, so many that are not mainstreamed. But, they have blessed my life with patience and love and warmth. Thank you, God.