Imagine a field of 50,000 flowers, all the same kind and all considered rare. Now imagine people deciding they didn’t like the flowers. Imagine whole crowds of people uprooting and burning and destroying all but 5000 one at a time. If one believes that we ought to be stewards of the Earth and ensure the bio-diversity of our planet in perpetuity, such willful actions would be condemned as wasteful, wanton and selfish. To destroy a harmless plant for the sake of more room, for the sake of convenience when these precious plants are so fragile and so rare, is the height of self indulgent indifference to the broader community and posterity.
Statistically, one in every 800 births worldwide is a child with Down syndrome but as Twain said; there are lies, damn lies and statistics. In the US, over 90% of all children diagnosed with Down syndrome are destroyed in utero. Meaning, there are a lot of children that aren’t, that should be; flowers that are rare by design but have been destroyed intentionally one at a time. These children are unique. They harm no one. Traditionally they have been described as more patient, more gentle and more trusting than the general population, a side effect of their distinctive genotype and chromosomal disorder. The world however allows that these children, being less than perfect, should be discarded willingly.
After all, the world doesn’t need to learn to slow down, to trust more, to be more patient, to be more accepting of the reality that we should love absent accomplishment. The world does’t think we should be willing to have our preconceptions about the value of any life, specifically, the quality of a life we do not yet know, challenged. These children go unnoticed to their grave by the world, discarded in clinics as so much human waste by the tens of thousands annually.
Down syndrome children may never win Nobel Prizes, but they won’t ever be starting wars or actively shooting. They may never clean up the ocean, but they won’t be exploiting the Earth either. Children with Trisomy 21 may not write the next great American novel, but then most of us won’t get to that project any time soon. Harvard and Yale and Notre Dame may be closed options for them, but these same people have full open hearts. This world needs a society peopled with more generous hearts. Think of the beauty they might inspire.
Now Down Syndrome children shall never die out entirely as long as one woman is willing to take on the challenge of caring for a child whose future is defined by the world as decidedly less valuable, (though no more known than any other human being’s), but something else is becoming extinct in the process of a whole race of people being destroyed sight unseen for personal reasons.
The world at large would be angry at the senseless destruction of 45,000 rare flowers. It would be outraged at the murder of a football stadium filled with people but it does not see these 45,000 lost this year in the United States alone. It says nothing about the complicit destruction of 92% around the world of those diagnosed with Down syndrome. Society as a whole is cheapened by its willful missing of a beauty it never allowed itself to witness. It has lost out on a whole field of flowers, whose scent is gentle, and whose ways are kind. Shame on our ignorance. Pity our impatience. Forgive us our waste. Mourn our world’s loss..
Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti
About the Author
Sherry Antonetti is a Catholic published author, freelance writer and part-time teacher. She lives with her husband and 10 children just outside of Washington, DC, where she's busy editing her upcoming book, A Doctor a Day, to be published by Sophia Institute Press. You can find her other writings linked up at her blog, Chocolate For Your Brain! or on Amazon.