There exists on the earth a people that are half-way between angels and normal human beings. These angel-people occur among mankind at about the rate of one per one thousand people. They have something extremely valuable to give to non-angel people human beings, but sadly, the the vast majority of non-angel people cannot see their gift.
There is quite a bit of communication in the world recently regarding Down Syndrome people. It was in the news recently that the nation of Iceland has nearly accomplished eliminating all Down Syndrome people through prenatal testing and subsequent abortion.
About 10 years ago, a national U.S. Pediatric organization essentially recommended screening for Down Syndrome with the goal of eliminating Down Syndrome births.
On the other side of the spectrum the baby food company Gerber chose, for the first time, to put a photo of a Down Syndrome child on their products label.
So, what exactly is Down Syndrome? Here is the physiological or genetic description:
“A congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy (trisomy-21).”
That description of Down Syndrome is quite narrow and very misleading if you view human beings from a more-than-physical view, which hopefully you do.
A non-physical view of Down Syndrome people could be:
“A special and beautiful kind of human being which is innocent, truly loving and kind…not naturally ruled by fear, self-pride and selfishness like non-Down Syndrome human beings.”
In other words, while Down Syndrome people certainly do have physical and mental disabilities and challenges, what they DON’T HAVE is equally important. As we saw, what they don’t have is a dark spiritual nature ruled by fear, self-pride and selfishness. If you think about that for a bit, you should conclude that MOST of the human relationship problems that exist are caused by those three things. It is a fact that fear and self-pride cause the vast majority of selfish decisions and behavior. Therefore, Down Syndrome people are normally free from a nature that is corrupted and frankly evil. How incredibly valuable is that!!!
In fact, it is part of the dark human nature to view Down Syndrome people as less valuable than ‘normal’ people since Down Syndrome people will not generally add significant achievements in things the people who make up society deem valuable. Things like hitting balls around (professional sports achievements) or making money (running or working for a business) or exercising power over others (government or political leadership). In other words, Down Syndrome people are not only innocent, but they are free from believing that hitting balls or making money or exercising power over others should be the driving motivation for their lives. Instead, they just want to be helpful and kind to others and experience true love (selfless behavior motivated by compassion) with others, which of course the vast majority of the people of the world deem essentially worthless.
The primary reason that so many people want to eliminate Down Syndrome people is due to their self-pride which says, ‘those people are worthless and a drain on society’. Perhaps at some level, non-Down people know that Down Syndrome people are in fact SUPERIOR from the most important aspect of human existence – CHARACTER. Most would never admit that and many would not even be aware of this spiritual dynamic. Self-pride along with the selfishness (lack of love) of not wanting to help and serve these special people through their physical disabilities accounts for the desire to eliminate them. The world reasons, ‘those people will not be able to provide anything that is valuable’. Worse, many parents and relatives of Down Syndrome children reason, ‘who wants a child that cannot fulfill my dreams of what a successful person is?’ and ‘they will only hold you back and be a burden’.
Since Down Syndrome people in general epitomize what it means to live by love, the Down Syndrome people are a living affront – a living, walking, rebuke - to the people of the world who in contrast live by their loveless ways.
Many well intentioned parents of Down Syndrome (DS) people can never escape their beliefs that what makes a human being have worth is their ability to accomplish or achieve certain things that the parent(s) deem ‘necessary’, ‘productive’, ‘worthwhile’ or ‘valuable’. Let’s make some important distinctions regarding this matter of parental expectations.
Every parent would like to communicate as fully as possible with their child. Typically that would mean that their child could learn to talk in order to communicate. Some DS people cannot talk or talk well and that can be frustrating to the parent who wants to communicate with their child. Having the desire to communicate well or fully with your children is good and normal. That is not a societal pressure or expectation.
Every parent would like their children to be able to do the basic personal hygiene and care tasks like go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, and other such basic self-care needs. Some DS people are not very functional and struggle to accomplish some of these things well, but generally do learn eventually. Again, a parent having those desires is not a societal pressure or expectation thing so much as a basic functional living thing. It is good and right to want your child to be able to take care of themselves with basic necessities.
Other than communication and basic self-care, what other expectations are reasonable for DS people? I would argue none, and thus the many discontent parents who cannot help but have their societal programmed beliefs bring that discontent. If you listen carefully to parents or others who talk or write about why Down Syndrome people are valuable, you will hear some version of, ‘because they can do many of the same things that non-DS people can do’. In other words, they can achieve academic success or work success or athletic success, etc. Stated another way, the DS parents desperately want their DS child to ‘be normal and accepted by people’. That is really sad because the fact is that DS people are different, thank God!
So, the standard that most DS parents use to judge or evaluate their DS children’s worth is non-DS children/people and their abilities and achievements. I understand why they do this. They typically agreed with the world’s view before they had a DS child, but then the TEST came. Are they going to change their view due to the new Special Child, or are they going to hang onto their previous false beliefs? Unfortunately for many, they hang onto their prior world view. This is utterly foolish and destructive and can only lead to disappointment, dissatisfaction and failed expectations.
This error by most DS parents exposes the primary problem with people in general. Human beings ought to be valued first because we have the same Creator/Father who values us and loves us. Second, a person ought to be valued if we try our best to be a good person and thus have good character. If people’s only view, perspective or expectation for others was acknowledging we have the same Father/Creator who values us; and we are all the same as human beings; and the only distinction that matters to our Creator Father is if a person uses their will to try and be a good person; then a whole lot of unrealistic expectations and discontentment would go away, along with all the negative things associated with that unrealistic expectation and discontentment.
Down Syndrome people have the most valuable thing possible – A GREAT CHARACTER! Their love and kindness and gentleness and innocence is EXACTLY the valuable things that non-Down people OUGHT TO VALUE, APPRECIATE AND EMULATE. Said another way, DS people HAVE GOOD CHARACTER, thus they automatically are VALUABLE according to the right and higher standard of our Creator Father!
However, non-DS people generally don’t know their Creator Father (even while many are religious and will say he/she exists) and thus don’t have the proper standard to judge DS people. Instead, they have the normal standard of ‘what potentially great things can this person achieve for society’, and sadly this includes the vast majority of Down Syndrome people’s parents.
While certainly well intentioned, every time I see a Down Syndrome parent write an article that says in effect, “My Down Syndrome child has a right to dream and who am I to tell them they cannot be an Astronaut” I cringe. The only reason people would tell their DS children that falsehood is because they truly don’t understand what is valuable. In other words, they have believed the lie that ‘human life is only valuable if the human has the potential to achieve great things and contribute significantly to society’ or some other such similar philosophy.
The FACT is that Down Syndrome people will NOT ‘achieve great things’ as the world judges that. I know this fact will offend many who choose to carry around the delusion that believes otherwise, but we are not doing our beloved DS people any favors by doing so. The solution is not to ‘wish upon a star’ but rather to CHANGE OUR VIEW OF WHAT IS VALUABLE. This requires faith in something greater than the world, its systems and its standard of judging valuable-ness. It required faith in our Creator Father.
So, the normal practice for well-intentioned DS ‘advocates’ is to find a highly functional DS person (who probably represents less than five percent of DS people) who accomplished some exceptional thing for DS people and to parade them around and boast about their accomplishment. They put the exceptional DS person in front of a camera and say things like, ‘see, DS people can accomplish amazing things’. In reality, the DS person accomplished something rare or exceptional for DS people (good for him or her) but that accomplishment is probably something the average middle school student could easily accomplish.
For the average thinking human being who sees that exceptional DS person, they will reason, ‘Oh, my, I didn’t know DS people could do that?!’ Now all the well intentioned people have done is set a massively unrealistic expectation of DS people among non-DS people. Another reaction might likely be something like, “OK, great, less than five percent of DS people have the mental abilities to accomplish what my middle school student can accomplish…so what should we do about the other ninety-five percent?’ In other words, you are NOT helping the average Down Syndrome person by parading around a highly functional and highly non-representative DS person. Furthermore, you are kowtowing to the world’s definition of “valuable”, and I have some news for you, YOU WILL NEVER WIN THAT VALUE WAR. As Iceland shows, human beings are NOT becoming more tolerant of those different than themselves and especially not those deemed as ‘burdens on society’ due to mental limitations.
No dear reader, we must turn away from foolish things and see what is truly valuable on this earth. You can have your geniuses and Nobel Prize winners and celebrity idols. You can have your wealthy industrialists and famous politicians and sport stars. You can have all the wealth and power in the world. As for me, I am going to do what is right and view a person who has a character of love, kindness, innocence and helpfulness as more valuable that what all those other people or things have to offer. The non-DS people have been in control of things for millennia, and if you have not noticed, the world is still a pretty darn unjust and sad place. The world chases after what it considers valuable and that chasing after is not significantly improving the human condition for billions of people. Ironically, the SOLUTION to their problems is modeled right in their midst and are walking around among them showing them how to fix things…but that which is truly valuable is invisible to those who do not know what is truly valuable.