Monday, January 25, 2016

Some of the More Things of Heaven and Earth

We live in a world that professes to love beauty, to love when people triumph over adversity, to love courage and fortitude and persistence. We celebrate it in wounded warriors, in athletes, in students that come from disadvantaged situations. When someone who has defined parameters we can see, exceeds them, even for a moment, it is a stop and recognize "there are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." type of moment.  But the world seems to think, we need less of these moments, as it continues to champion the destruction of the disabled in the womb, and sanction the euthanasia of the elderly.  The world professes to love seeing people triumph over adversity, but advocates for eliminating all people who might suffer from adversity.  You can't have the victory without the struggle, but the world, out of fear, out of hopelessness, has declared, all struggling should be eliminated.

Today, my son came to me and said, "Catch" and threw me a ball. It is a simple thing. But for my son to speak is already more than I expect. For him to invite me to play with him, and to do it multiple times, showing me he knows what he wanted, and how to say it, and how to do it, well, I had my miracle for today. He even caught the ball twice. 

Some people think people like Paul should be destroyed before they're ever born, to save them from suffering through the trials of this life. Some people think giving birth to a disabled child if you know the child will be disabled, is the height of selfishness, because you could have spared them.  

The problem with this sort of thinking is it denies a reality. No matter what the tests show, every child will be dis-abled, in that there will be some things that any given child cannot do or do well. There has not yet been born a Super baby, and even those exceptionally gifted, struggle with something because all of us do. Should your child be born perfect, there will still be the flaws of the world, of teachers and bees, mean dogs and rainy days, boredom and chores he finds tedious. She might hate ballet even though she has the legs and grace and apparent talent. She might love singing, though her voice is that of a frog. Desire, talent, reason and capacity do not always line up, and no matter who one gives birth to, or how well they are raised, there will be at some point, some rawness, some keen disappointment which shakes them out of the idea that all in life must flow without effort, and without suffering. Someone will die, someone will fail, someone will not show up, someone will disappoint. It may even be themselves.

We cannot bubble wrap life and live it to the marrow at the same time. If we opt for safety in all things, we can create a fragile creature of a person, and ensure they never have a skinned knee, but that will rob them of the joy of discovering they can survive such things, and that such things in the scheme of things, are not worth worrying over. Eventually, science will allow us to eliminate all sorts of conditions, but only at the cost of all sorts of people, people like Michael J. Fox, like Beethoven, like Stevie Wonder, like anyone we've ever met who inspired us because they didn't let their disability define the whole of them, or rather, they didn't let us define them solely by their disability. They already knew they were more than their blindness or Parkinson's or deafness or whatever it was, they already knew they were whole people of infinite worth.

Paul doesn't have a magic talent like they showcase in Hollywood movies. He can't count cards like Rainman, and he isn't a musician of professional caliber. He's seven.   But none of his brothers or sisters weigh Paul's worth by what he can't do. They celebrate his presence daily, not because they're angels, but because they recognize his victories are just that, victories over what the world says about his capacity to add value to life. Paul adds salt to our family. We were a big family before him, but he has made us fuller. 

Tomorrow, he will show me another miracle. It may be when he (he's seven), wants to go outside, and brings me my gloves. It is a  gallant little gesture on his part, but the world will be saved by little acts, by little kindnesses, by little miracles. And people like Paul, specialize in those sorts of things that will save the world. 

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