Written by Ben Smith
October is Down Syndrome awareness month. I know there are a lot of things to be aware of, especially in our hyper-connected society, but for me and my family, awareness of Down Syndrome is unavoidable. Almost a year ago, my youngest brother was born. His name is Owen, and he has Down Syndrome.
If you have never met a person with Down Syndrome, you are missing out. They are among the happiest people you could meet and have an amazing ability to brighten everything with their presence. Just yesterday, I finished an exam and was grouchy because of my performance. My sister plunked Owen in my lap, and my mood immediately changed. It is impossible to remain a grouch when that beaming face is so delighted to see you. People with Down Syndrome are like Galadriel’s phial in a dark place: when they enter, darkness has no choice but to flee.
And yet, not everyone recognizes the infinite value of those with Down Syndrome. Some countries even take pride in the fact that they have “eliminated” people like my brother Owen. This flippancy with people’s lives to “cure” a genetic condition is one reason why President Trump’s statement on Down Syndrome is so valuable to me and my family:
In the United States, around 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year. These treasured members of our society are sources of inspiration to the many families and communities graced by their lives. Those living with Down syndrome face unique challenges, reminding us every day that it is incumbent upon us as a Nation, to continue empowering them to reach their full potential. Throughout this Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the First Lady and I celebrate these remarkable people, members of our families, communities, and Nation, and my Administration reasserts its commitment to standing against those who seek to discriminate, devalue, and demean the sanctity of their lives.
As our society progresses toward a more inclusive future, there are still those who pass judgment on which lives are worth living. As President, I denounce radical proposals to terminate pregnancies of unborn children with Down syndrome. Our Nation will continue to emphatically affirm the self-evident ideal that all children—born and unborn—are created in the image of God, are worthy of life, and deserve to be loved.
Our country must never run astray from the certitude that the lives of those with Down syndrome are precious and full of potential. During Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we are reminded that we must never waver in our efforts to support these individuals so that they can enrich the soul of our Nation with their joy and love.
We cannot imagine a life without Owen and want to make sure he has everything he needs to reach his full potential. A society that seeks to eliminate people like my brother is not an inclusive, just, or compassionate society.
Those with Down Syndrome present unique challenges to their families, but don’t we all? A world without Down Syndrome would not be a utopia. A world without Down Syndrome would be a world without the bright faces of unique people with unique challenges. It would be a world without the unique joy that they bring to their families and communities. This statement from the president is encouraging to all of us who strive to value, support, and empower people like Owen, so their life is the best it can be.
Let us be Christians who embrace the inevitable stormy tests of our faith, whether they be a novel virus, a troubling election, or an extra chromosome, glorifying God in it all as he gives us more grace.
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