Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"Happy" versus what makes us most beautifully human

This is long but do read it all.
“Presume competence,” said the disability advocates, and so I did. I learned to discard “normal” and embrace “possible.” It wasn’t easy. My daughter needed 10 times the support of a typical kid. It also felt like the truest, most human work I could do: to love someone into whomever they would become.

I was learning. Meanwhile, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins tweeted that it was immoral for a pregnant woman to knowingly carry to term a child with Down syndrome because, according to him, disabilities decrease happiness and increase suffering. I was appalled.

When Fiona reached kindergarten in 2016, I fretted: Would her teachers think the same? That her life wasn’t “worth it”? At a standard public school, among kids twice her size, would she be dismissed as incapable, rejected as less-than?

I couldn’t know that in one year, her gross motor confidence would climb. ... I couldn’t know that in the company of typical, talking peers, my daughter’s verbal language would explode.

On her first day of kindergarten, I couldn’t know any of this—just as I couldn’t know that, on the day I learned of my daughter’s diagnosis, I was being handed a gift: the knowledge that the point of life isn’t to achieve things. It also isn’t, as Richard Dawkins implies, to avoid suffering. It isn’t even to “be happy.” ... This belief in the virtue of the “happy” and suffering-free life sterilizes and shrinks us, minimizing what makes us most beautifully human.

The point of this human life, I believe, is love. And the ridiculous and brave and risky act of love turns my heart into taffy, stretches it across the broad spectrum of human feeling. I hurt, I long, I exalt, I rejoice. And yes, my chest sometimes aches from the work of raising a rare girl. But the ache in my chest is a cousin of joy.

Heather Lanier
Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2020
I was so touched, especially looking at Richard Dawkins' eugenics stance (carefully couched as kindness) versus Heather Lanier's hard earned joy which reaffirms the point of life and power of love.  It is also a good reminder that there is so much we can't know when we try to see into the future. Sometimes what we find there is great beyond our ability to imagine it.

No comments:

Post a Comment