Friday, November 28, 2008
"If Vanier is correct that within France within the next few years there will be no children born with Down Syndrome because they will all have been aborted, then something is deeply wrong with our society. As my friend John, who has Down Syndrome, puts it, 'That doesn't make us feel very welcome, does it.' And he's right. Stanley Hauerwas correctly points out . . . that one of the real dangers for people with disabilities in Western cultures is compassion . . . How odd"What was the scene in heaven like when God chose those people with disabilities to incarnate. Did his voice boom through Heaven, "Who shall I send and who will go for us?" A humble soul squeaks, " here am I . . . send me"
"Go and show this people who I am, show them that my power is made perfect in weakness. Give flesh to Jesus in the lives of his people."
"How long, O Lord?"
"Until they have driven you from the Earth."
Couldn't this be considered genocide? Killing a type of people because of their genetic material? That is the same reasoning that led to the dehumanization of native peoples all over the world, and aren't we ashamed of that? Have we only relented and stopped heedlessly killing "primitives" because we were wrong about their intellectual capacities? One major excuse for American slavery was that black people could not become civilized, that they lacked the same capacities as people of European descent. Was their argument right? Is it okay to devalue people because of diminished capacities? Are they less "human" than us? What about sentience? People with mental disabilities are, in my experience, capable of feeling as deeply as anyone else. And self-awareness? Arguing this way is stupid and wrong-minded; the truth is that we do not kill from right-minded good will, but for misguided compassion, from self-interest, and from fear.
We reflect on the horror we would feel to have our capacities diminished, but we do not ask those who actually live in those bodies if they wished that they had not had a chance to live. Instead we let our instinctual fear of difference drive us. We let our fear of having to give too much of ourselves, of having to be burdened with people made in God's image who are less able.
I am misguided, selfish, and terrified too.
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