Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Are normal people worth more?

What would you say gives me my worth as a human-being? Is it my looks?

During World War II many Germans viewed the physically and mentally handicapped as “useless” to society, a threat to genetic purity, and ultimately as unworthy of life. Hundreds of thousands of handicapped people were murdered during the second World War in Nazi Germany. Handicapped infants and small children were killed by injection of a deadly dosage of drugs or by letting them starve to death. Our race did this, the human race. I continue to be shocked by how selfish, cold and heartless humans have the inherent ability to become.

Today it’s World Down Syndrome Day and I’m not in a happy mood. I’m not in the mood to wear mismatching socks, not because I’m against this tradition, but because I don’t want to pretend that our society has changed a lot since 1945. Today we have well-respected scientists like Richard Dawkins who says that it’s “immoral” for women to not have an abortion if they find out that their baby has Down Syndrome. We listen to our cultural influencers. In the US about 92% of all women who find out that they are pregnant with a Down syndrome baby have an abortion. I don’t think wearing mismatching socks is going to change how we view the value of a human-being.

Is it what I do that gives me my worth as a human-being? My achievements.

We live in a society that from day one places a new little human-being in different categories and based on what category you fit into we will decide how much you are worth. Today women who are pregnant can decide to abort a baby that has Down syndrome. What if in the future we can know if an unborn baby has autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies or something else, should we abort these babies too? If your answer is yes I can tell you that I would have been one of those babies, one of those people considered too different to be worth giving birth to.

What’s our goal in the end? Do we want a world free of people with any type of special needs? Or, do we want a world that is more loving? What are the values we build our lives upon? If we believe that being intelligent and high achieving is of high importance in life we will not want to give birth to a child with special needs which can hinder achievements. If we instead believe that being beautiful is of high importance in life we will not want to give birth to a child with Down syndrome or a child with only one arm for example. If we believe that comfort, ease and pleasure are highly important in life we will choose to not give birth to a child with any type of medical needs that will require us to visit the hospital often and therefore make our lives less comfortable.

Is my worth as a human-being based on how much praise I receive from others, or on how busy my social calendar is? These are all common measuring sticks that people use to determine their own worth according to Forbes magazine.

If we look to God’s definition of what’s important in life we learn that the most important thing is to love God and love people. If we look to God’s view of babies we learn that he knew them already when they were in the womb. He intentionally “knitted them together” in their Mother’s womb, in other words even with their special needs all children are born exactly the way God made them. If we look to God’s will for our lives we could never even consider that any type of special need would give a baby less worth as a human-being. God created every single human-being with a specific purpose in mind, to contribute to this world in a unique way.  

The Down’s Syndrome Association issued a response to Richard Dawkins’s initial comment saying that people with Down syndrome can live full and rewarding lives and that they also make a valuable contribution to our society. Do you agree with them? Or do you have Richard Dawkins world view and can honestly say that you think it’s best for Down’s syndrome babies to be aborted? These are the questions I think we should all ask ourselves on World Down Syndrome Day. If I become pregnant with a baby that has Down syndrome will I want him/her, will I love this baby too, just like any other “normal” baby? What are the values I base my life upon? Is it comfort and pleasure I strive for the most in my life or is to love others? Mismatching socks will not change how we treat people in our society, changing our values will. Every action will always be based on a value that we have. A value that comes from the world view we are currently accepting and building our lives upon.

What if in the end all the man-made measuring sticks for my worth as a human-being are false? What if my worth comes from He who made me and not from what I can accomplish, then I'm free to "just be me"! What if just like this beautiful pink tree God created me to bring him glory by being who he made me to be, not anybody else. I'm free from pressure to measure up. I have nothing to prove.

A few months ago I had a bad day, I was feeling sad and took a walk along the lakefront. Suddenly I see this little four-year old girl waving at me and saying “Hi!” I make eye contact, smile at her and say hello. The little girl runs up to me with her Mom following right behind her and takes me by the hand. The mother apologizes but I tell her I don’t mind at all. The little girl walks hand in hand with me back to the parking lot. She looks up at me every now and then with this huge smile and I feel so happy. The little girl has Down syndrome, she is a stranger I’ve just met while taking a walk in the park but she met me with a generous love like no other, with smiles and no judgement. I was in a good mood for the rest of that day. Do not tell me there is not room for children like this in our society, or in your family. If we are on this Earth to love each other then this little girl just nailed it. She is different yes, but she is much more loving than me.

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