This first drawing is one you haven't seen before. It isn't new, but somehow it just got overlooked. I called it "A Proud Uncle" and it shows a Down Syndrome man holding his nephew. Do the lives of these two people in the drawing have the same value? Do they both have an equal right to life?
I almost hesitate to write about what is troubling me tonight for people seem to feel so strongly about the Robert Latimer situation.
I, personally, don't feel it is that important for him to be denied parole since the parole board appears to be denying parole mainly because they are hoping to force him to admit that what he did was wrong! Obviously, it was wrong, but keeping him incarcerated is not the way to help him -- or so it seems to me.
No, what is troubling me the most is the attitude that so many people seem to have about the value of his daughter's life.
Having spent the past 10 years as a member of the group that people called disabled, I have gotten to know a number of disabled people quite well. Some barely seem able to function without constant assistance while others lead active and productive lives from their wheelchairs. Only once during this time has anyone said anything really ugly to me. A person on the street yelled at me one day, loudly asking why I didn't stay at home and out of people's way like I should. That was a bit of a shock for me, but I managed to deal with it in a peaceful manner.
But after reading all the letters to the editor and editorial comments regarding the Robert Latimer situation these past couple of weeks, I now wonder how many people are thinking that way but just not saying it out loud?!
How many times have I heard people say "Oh, it would have been better if that child had died at birth" or "why didn't she have an abortion if she knew her baby would have this syndrome or another?"
The lady in the above drawing holding the child on her lap has Alzheimer's and I have certainly heard people say: "it would better if she just caught pneumonia and went quickly -- what good is her life anyway?"
This little girl in this next drawing is brain damaged like Robert Latimer's daughter. She doesn't appear to be in constant pain, but even so how can people say her life has no value?
I have known a number of families over the years who have one or more disabled/handicapped children and never once have I heard them say "I wish the doctors had let this child die at birth" except for those very few parents who simply cannot face the reality of the situation and see killing as a legitimate option -- like Robert Latimer.
Most parents that I have known have found that the disabled child brings a certain depth to their family life and teaches them more about loving than they would have known otherwise. Of course, when the child is terribly damaged, they may not be able to care for the child in the home and have to find some other place for them to live -- which Robert Latimer could have done, I would think.
I have heard Jean Vanier speak on several occasions and he always brings people from the residence with him. Their presence adds so much to what he is saying about accepting the brokenness in ourselves and others. Often the smiles of the young people with him teach much better than his words what love and acceptance is really all about.
I know none of this is easy and that to see your own child so helpless, so limited, in pain and distress, must be one of the most difficult things in life to live with day after day. I have so solution. All I can do is pray for those who are struggling with these issues in their lives and try to be as accepting of all those people I see each day who are living with something far more difficult than anything I have ever had to face.
I only hope that as I get older, more infirm, more disabled -- maybe even unable to communicate or care for myself in any way -- that society will allow me to live until I die. I truly believe that God can do good things with my life until the day of my death -- and, truthfully, I don't want to miss any of it!