Thursday, April 12, 2007

No more deviant genes

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.


June Butler said...

My friend, you have been writing.

The world would be poorer, indeed, and very bland if we were to screen out the "different" from life itself.

PseudoPiskie said...

An old friend died two weeks ago. I haven't seen her for a number of years as our life circumstances have changed. She was 82 when she died, a long life of loving and surviving Downs Syndrome. She was kept at home as a child because that and an institution were the only options. Her mother apparently taught her household skills because she was able to live on her own as long as people checked up on her routinely. Altho it could be frustrating at times, it was easy to fill in when one of the friends (no relatives around to help eventually) who took care of her needed help because she was the happiest, most caring person we knew.

Likewise a young man I know in NJ is similarly blessed. He accepts everyone at face value and takes the idea of loving everyone seriously. He's a bit overeducated but now has a job with a senior home where many residents know him from church. They make sure he is taken care of as well as he tries to take care of them. He's Presby, by the way.

To each God gives a talent. Some of us seem to be here to allow others of us to feel useful. We need to recognize both our need and their value. You are so right about how much poorer we would be without all of us in our infinite varieties.

Saint Pat said...

The older I get, the more I realize we all have some disability (or two). How many wonderful people would never be, if everyone deemed flawed were culled?

episcopalifem said...

Amen, Sharecropper, Amen.

Who are we to value only the perfect life? All of us are God's creations, and, there is value in each of us, regardless of our outward flaws.

A most excellent post!