The Witness of His Obedience and Love

One of the gifts of having a child with special needs is how living with such a person requires greater mindfulness. Medical ethics demand that we always consider the consequences before we render the cure. Afterward, there will be too much excitement; people may not have the capacity to reflect on what having this sort of power might mean, both to those affected and those who do not undergo the treatment, who do not get "fixed."

People of faith do well to pray and consider over a right course that rejects neither faith nor reason, neither the goods that might come from such breakthroughs in research, nor the persons who were infinitely wondrous, wonderful, and worthy before any possibilities existed. Are we reworking people into our own image because we do not recognize those gifts that are not easily identifiable through standardized tests? At what point, does the manipulation of a child's natural capacity become something beyond a cure?

My reservations are not limited to questions about what happens when we begin to engineer a physically flawless race of human beings; they are not grounded in a fear of technology or change, or even to an overly sentimental attachment to my son because he is disabled. I am concerned because the world is becoming increasingly blind to the ordinary beauty of humanity with, and in spite of, all its flaws. Society prefers an airbrushed virtual version of people, one that can be tweaked to fit the image of the age. If science advances to the point where all the struggles of parenting and childhood and this business of living can be "cured" with a pill or a shot, then what is the purpose?

That which comes easy, we do not value; that which can be fixed, we need not invest time in to improve. The human heart has shown itself over the centuries to be highly intolerant of the"other," any "other," even the ultimate "other," God, who gifted us with his son to tell us all that "we were made in God's image. Your sins and sufferings are known, yet you are loved, always." If we create ways to eliminate anyone from being "other," how will our hearts be stretched to love as God loves?

These may be just a mother's overwrought worries, and they may subside in anticipation of the day her son can read to her and pour his own juice. If a "cure" is found, more children with my son's condition may survive the rubicon of the womb, despite their diagnosis.

But if this is to be a wondrous brave new world that has such people in it, we ought to begin thinking and remembering what instructive witness our children with Down syndrome did bring to the world, before they were cured.

9/12/2013 4:00:00 AM