Monday, May 25, 2009
Suffering and Education
I'm a wimp when it comes to pain—physical and mental. I won't bore you with examples. How can we avoid pain? Education, perhaps: Which sports are the most likely to cause painful injuries? Should I look both ways before crossing the street? [umm, where I live, that's a lifestyle choice, by the way—last week, while driving slowly and quietly through a residential area, a man stepped out between parked cars in front of me on a diagonal path, such that even his peripheral vision had no chance of including me. He finally noticed my car after I slammed on the brakes, and cast me an annoyed (or was it bored) look, as if I had no business driving on the street he intended to wander across. Perhaps I should commend his chivalry, as he took this risk rather than his wife/partner/girlfriend/sister/business associate/?, who was following him at a safe distance. I guess she's the smart one!] Should I smoke to look cool, taking on the distant risk of spending the last years of my life struggling desperately to breathe against my emphysema? Education is great, and answers all of the above questions rather definitively. I've been to grade school, middle school [ugh], high school, college, and even what some folks call a rather distinguished graduate school [see above comment about middle school.] More questions: what do my chromosomes say about the kind of children I might have? Amniocentesis anyone? Fetoscopy? Wow, I can avoid the pain of spending my life tending a dying child; just educate me! Now, I do not have a special needs child, and it is a dreadful prospect, this pain-avoider admits it. Check out www.pwsausa.org for some difficult yet hopeful details on the child two of my friends are raising. So, education will make sure Dean will never be taunted in school, right? Well, maybe—I'm an optimist. But kids also know that kids who are different can be aborted before they ever take up space in a classroom. For every adult who genuinely tries to appreciate human differences, there are a score who are “glad it's not me” or, worse still, wonder why the stupid parents didn't use amniocentesis to, well, nip this problem in the bud! Kids aren't stupid—they pick up these cues from adults. And the do-gooders that inevitably populate groups like my school's “Respect for Human Differences” committee may be sincere, but can they be effective? How many Prader-Willi babies and children are featured in Gap commercials? Abercrombie? American Eagle? Let's see, clothing stores and movie studios spend billions every year to promote “cool.” The Respect for Human Differences committee has a budget of, oh, a few hundred dollars—is that going to outweigh Hollywood and Madison Ave.? Now, there is common grace for every human of every religion. Some things are just wrong, and people know it. So there is a chance that the well-meaning RfHD folks will strike that cord of of grace and do some good. But they are fighting against original sin. Sadly, most RfHD committees are dominated by folks who deny sin, and have a totally unrealistic view of the power of education. In fact, they may be engaging in mis-education in that they promote lifestyle choices as genetic conditions. Or they may promote innate conditions as neutral or positive that are, in their own way, as damaging and destructive as Prader-Willi Syndrome. So, what makes my friend's child valuable? What makes those with poor lifestyle choices valuable? All are made in the image of God. Yes, that comes under “education”—sort of—but it's not a tenet of the ruling elites, so it won't be featured in any educational presentation by the “Respect for Human Differences” committee. And in the background is the not-so-subtle roar of “beautiful is better” “cool is cool” and “life begins when the baby is wanted.” Unwanted babies don't leave the hospital in car carriers festooned with balloons; they leave in medical waste containers.