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Valuing the Least of These
Every Friday my syndicated column is printed in a number of newspapers. I couldn't post on Friday since I was on an airplane flying to a marriage conference, so this one's a little late! It's based on a blog post from last week about Obama's Special Olympics remark. Hope you like it!

I believe in free speech, so I don’t particularly like political correctness. I think people are far too scared to criticize some cultures because they may be labelled racist. But some cultures have bad elements, and if we ignore things like Islamic honor killings or Jamaican gang violence, we're doing a disservice to everyone, especially to the most vulnerable within those cultures.

Political correctness veils truth. It makes people watch what they say, even if it is the truth, so they don't offend. Truth takes a back seat to inoffensiveness.

Personally, I think truth should trump just about everything. But that doesn’t mean that I think offending people is fine. Saying racist things against natives just because they're natives is wrong. Saying that parts of the native community have an issue with child abuse is legitimate, if done in the proper context. Do you see the difference?

By the way, my sub-culture has issues, too, primarily around greed, laziness, and lack of commitment to our families. We've all got problems.

Some are saying right now that Obama's recent comment that he bowls as badly as the Special Olympics was stupid, but nothing to get upset about.
I don't agree. What he was saying had nothing to do with truth, and everything to do with offense. To cause offense for no reason except to boost your own ego isn't just stupid. It reflects a fundamental character flaw.

Maybe he was just making a joke and it fell flat. We all make stupid jokes sometimes. But I don't think I've ever joked about the Special Olympics.

Especially not since 1996. That year I learned that the baby I was carrying had Down Syndrome. When we first found out, while I was still pregnant, it seemed like everyone was pressuring us to abort, especially the doctors. But we didn't.
It wasn't that I was happy about the Down Syndrome. I was devastated. What if my son could never read? Would I have to care for him the rest of my life? Would he ever get married?

But after a few days of panic, we began to read more materials about Down's. And I became excited. I was going to be the best mom he could have!

I only had that chance for a month on this side of heaven. Christopher died far too early. The rest of my relationship with him will have to wait until we're reunited. But so many people plot against these little blessings. The doctors didn't want him to be born. Many of my friends didn't want him to be born. Keith's colleagues didn't want him to be born. And now Obama thinks he's the subject of a joke.

What are we becoming when we start making jokes about the weakest in our society? We're becoming cruel, heartless, and prideful. Did Obama intend to insult those with Down's? Of course not. Did he intend to insult those with other disabilities who compete in the Special Olympics? No, I don't think he did. But he made that comment anyway, without thinking. I would never do such a thing, anymore than I would make fun of Obama because he's black. Such things don't register with me, as I don't think they do with the majority of good-hearted folk.

But we live in a culture which denigrates the disabled without even thinking about it. When we realize what we’ve done, of course we apologize, but the point is that we don't realize it beforehand. If we truly valued the disabled, such slips wouldn't happen. Perhaps I'm taking this too personally because I still miss my son, but that's just the way I see it. Let’s start valuing people again for who they are, instead of using them as a springboard to make ourselves look better. Maybe then we’d have a society that truly does include everyone, whether they can bowl well or not.

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At 1:12 PM , Blogger justusseven said…

Hi - found your blog from a link on FAR MORE THAN DIAMONDS. So glad I did =)

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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