Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Thought

I'm in the midst of pre-trip anxiety. Never has a person existed who liked travel less. Add to that a small child healing from a virus and you've got a crazy/anxious woman. I haven't been on an airplane in years and things have changed significantly in that time. Additionally, the hardware lodged in Charlie's skull add a dimension to things that I honestly hadn't fully considered until now. I'm doing laundry. I'm caring for a child on the mend. I'm freaked out about flying.

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about.

We're pretty much down to the wire with regards to this election and people are getting down to the knitty-gritty of the pro-life/pro-choice debate. McCain pissed some people off in the last debate with his air quotes and the reverberations are definitely being felt in the blogosphere. I don't want to talk about fetuses today, though.

People from all walks of life come forward to support "the sanctity of human life." I, pretty much a terrible Christian on a day-to-day basis, feel that human life is of the utmost importance. I myself, was faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to keep my day-old son on life support despite significant brain damage. There were some truly amazing parents sharing space with us who were unequivocal in their belief that a child with brain damage should be taken off of life support. I revered these church-going, God-loving people. I have no doubt that they have attended a hundreds more church services than I have. On this one point, they had their opinions and I had mine.

What I'm trying (badly) to say is that I feel like the whole "sanctity of human life" thing is pretty subjective. A lot of people think that if they vote or even post a message on their blog or Facebook account then they are upholding the value of human life. Meanwhile, I feel that the disabled are routinely ignored and marginalized. The lives that are actually going on right now are ignored.

Have you ever looked to see the children who are waiting to be adopted in your state? In my state, most are black and many are disabled. My heart breaks as I look at their beautiful faces and wish that they had homes. Where is the respect for their lives? How have they gotten to the point that their pictures are up on the Internet like puppies that need a home? Where are all of these people who say they are in support in human life?

But, I'm not just here to bitch (shocking). I also want to congratulate. While living in Arkansas, my husband and I had the rare opportunity to be part of one of the most wonderful Church congregations (families) a person could ever be involved with. Their support during Charlie's hospitalization was a thing of beauty like no other. I can honestly say that it changed the way my husband looked at Christians, which is no small feat. It goes further than what was done for us, though. I still talk about the loving and embracing way that this congregation accepted the disabled. It wasn't about special rooms and special classes--it was just about acceptance. Many of the regulars had first-hand experience with children with feeding tubes since they'd worked in church daycare. A good friend of mine with completely healthy children talked all about feeding tubes when they suggested one for Charlie. Almost everyone knew the little triplet with cerebral palsy. A young man with Down's sydrome assisted with early service. When we visited almost a year ago, Charlie's head was freshly shaved and scarred from his shunt surgery. People didn't stare--they came over, asked questions about the surgery, and talked to us. In the course of conversation tody I found myself telling Charlie's therapist about it and I realized that I had been in the presence of something very rare. I was in the presence of people who acted rather than spoke; who put their belief in action--and that is a rare thing indeed.

The point I am in-eloquently trying to make, is that how you value human life is seen much more readily in your day-to-day actions. Posting or talking or even marching for "life" is meaningless if you don't do something about it. There's a lot of humanity out there being ignored. There are abused children who need advocates; there are homeless people sleeping on the streets; there are children in need of basic health care (in this country); there are elderly people wasting away in nursing homes; many public schools are inadequately staffed. If you think that human life is important, then I think these things are also important.

I recently heard about a secret plan to build a center for the mentally handicapped somewhere in the New Orleans area. It's very important that this place not advertise or let anyone know about it until after ground has broken. The reason is simple: people don't want the mentally handicapped near them. I can name another case where a housing development for the elderly was axed when it was learned that ten percent of the residents would be low-income. I live in a VERY Catholic state. Here, it is no big deal to drive past pro-life signs mixed in with ads for car dealerships and fried chicken. Isn't it a shame that the value of life doesn't extend to the disabled? To the poor? What are we going to do about that?

I'm aware that this probably made no sense. For that, I apologize. I just needed to get some stuff off my chest.