“I’m expecting a baby,” writes a future mother. “I’ve discovered he has Down syndrome. I’m scared: what kind of life will my child have?”
In response, CoorDown, an Italian organization that supports those with the disability, created the following video, answering the mother through the voices of 15 children with Down syndrome:
“Your child can be happy,” they conclude, “and you’ll be happy, too.”
Or, as Katrina Trinko summarizes: “Don’t be scared. Be excited.”
That goes for the rest of us, too.
Those with cognitive disabilities face enormous disadvantages in modern society, one of which is the basic belief that their lives are somehow lesser than the rest: less valuable, less worthwhile, less fulfilling, etc.
In the United States, roughly 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, a trend that has claimed the lives of more than 55 million children thus far. This is an extremely dark corner of American life, one based in selfishness, yes, but propelled by a contorted and distorted view of human worth, dignity, and possibility.
Similar to the perspective of Tim Harris, a restaurant owner who was born with Down syndrome, the message from these children booms with hope and optimism. Each person is born with a unique calling and capacity, to contribute and participate, create and collaborate, give and receive, love and be loved. They will be there to give kisses and hugs, to help their parents, to work and earn a living, and to share with others in the fullness of life. These are dreams that the full realm of humanity shares, and we ought to embrace and protect all who tread that path, regardless of this or that “disability.”
Our most basic attitudes and assumptions — our primary hopes and fears — have a profound impact both on how we serve those in need. But they also have an impact on how or whether we are prepared to receive the gifts that those very people bring. Whether in the family or the church, in business or policymaking, we must give of ourselves, certainly, but we must also provide room for others to flourish as they, too, were created to do.
As World Down Syndrome Day approaches, let’s seize another opportunity to diminish the darkness and celebrate the gifts that these people bring to the world.
HT: Sara Torre