Thursday, March 21, 2013

World Down Syndrome Day 2013

There is a reason that we have a World Down Syndrome Day... it is to celebrate our children, coworkers, neighbors, and friends who have Down Syndrome.  But it is also because of, well, abortion, institutionalization, segregation, abuse.  We have this day because we families and caregivers and teachers and friends have voices and stories to share in hope to bring change in a world that just, well, just doesn't know yet.

Doesn't yet know or understand...

     That easy is not synonymous with happy.

          That perfect is not the same as content.

               That first does not equate to being lovable.

                    That normal has no baring on worth.

"Grandma and Charlie playing with roller skates and lollipops!"

Everyday of my life I walk around hand in hand in our community with a little boy who is not first, is not easy, if far from perfect, and will never be normal...

But he is beautiful.

He is happy, and we are content, and he is lovable, and worthy, and it is plain as day to anyone who meets him, that he is also wonderful and (dare I say even in the face of how much his existence is, and will always be, supported by the help and tax dollars of others)...

He is necessary.

There are many Down Syndrome self advocates out there speaking for themselves and their peers about the worth (and awesomeness, really) of people with Down SyndromeAnd there are others who will never learn to speak.  There are people with Down Syndrome whose accomplishments will include acting careers, athletic victories, dancing awards, academic awards, but for some, greatness is simply displayed in faithfulness as a friend, a smile when bagging your groceries, or even just the ability to fail and struggle with grace, a great attitude, and a willingness to always, always keep pressing forward.

That, my friends, is necessary. 

You know, there are a lot of stereotypes about Down Syndrome.  A lot of categories our mind sort of files things in, creating a space for "other".  But Charlie... he's just a 7 year old kid.  Really.  He is not "other".  He is a part of his family and community in ways that just fit.  He may never make his own youtube video about Down Syndrome (check out the one below--awesome!), but his life is his living testimony.  Charlie, and every other child and adult who has Down Syndrome and the chance to live a fulfilling life, are living testimonies: walking, breathing, laughing prophets of Love and Hope and Change.

So, I'm high fiving Charlie all day long.  Go ahead, and high five a person with Down Syndrome today.  And then, lets all have a little more grace.  A little more hope and love for people.  All people.  Disabled people, slow people, man people, women people, quick people, ugly people, smart people, girl people, boy people, autistic people, different people, people we don't understand, people in the forefront, and people who just do what they can.  I think that is what Charlie would do.  


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