“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Complicity: the state of being an accomplice, as in a wrongdoing

That is the way The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines the word complicity. In atrocities, in discriminations, in poor treatment of the past the word might be used to describe the church. We look back on those times of complicity in the past and wonder how the church could have been so blind as to have missed the great evil, the significant injustice it was participating in at the time.

We congratulate ourselves at the fact that "we would not have let that evil happen!"
I have often wondered what the blindspot of the church is today. What is the evil we are overlooking which we might stand up against? I think I might have the answer.

As I described in the last blog entry, there is great excitement that doctors may now be able to identify up to 90% of persons with down syndrome prenatally, and do it earlier. They claim this will save mothers the embarassment of being detected as pregnant or the psychological dissonance of having felt the first kicks of the baby before killing it. Church people, leaders included, are often so oblivious about who persons with down syndrome are that they cannot even engage in a discussion. As a result, they mourn the birth of a child with down syndrome in the same manner as someone without knowledge. Down syndrome is an unknown to them, though it needn't be, so they fear it, perhaps even fear those with the disability. But if those people were in churches, we might not only loose our fear, we might learn to see them as a blessing. I can tell you that I do!

I am not the parent of such a person although I would not fear being such a parent. I don't know how many people with down syndrome I have known, maybe 50, not a lot of people but I certainly don't fear them or their differences. I have actually come to love them and am drawn to them. They are sweet, decent people who enjoy life. They will rejoice or mourn with you with heartfelt empathy. They will go to school, maybe get a job, and live on their own or with limited support. You wouldn't have to try very hard to convince me that a great sense of humor is a characteristic of the syndrome. However, we, the church, fear what we don't understand, and are too damned lazy to find out what it is that we fear. If we did take the time, our perspectives would change.

The degree to which the church has not participated in dispelling falsehoods and telling the truth,
the degree to which the church stigmatizes and excludes people from the typical programs of the church,
the degree to which the church says that such people are not a priority for ministry to the point of putting it into their budgets,
the degree to which the church doesn't go out of its way to bring people with down syndrome into its fellowship,
the degree to which national church leaders are not speaking out against the evil of prenatal diagnosis and abortion of children with down syndrome,
is the degree to which we are complicit in this evil.
We are complicit in this evil.

The good news is that God is a forgiving God. He is forgiving if we denounce our complicity and repent. It starts with you (as trite as it sounds).

McNair (fcbu)


WAGER said...

Very interesting. I suppose that your position is quite accurate in that to sit aside and watch such an atrocity is, for all practical purposes, participating in it. But, on the other hand, It is hard to blame the church and/or church leaders, though, if one considers our society's position on any kind of disability. Intelligence and beauty is so valued and even obsessed over, that we think somebody with a disorder like Down’s syndrome is better off if we spare them the hardships and embarrassment. Its like putting a horse out of its misery with a shotgun (except that a person with downs syndrome is not a freakin horse).To see this obsession with perfection, all one must do is go to the checkout stand at their local grocery store. Yet on the other hand (assuming this person in particular has got an extra hand, in which case, he should have been aborted too), the church is called to be light and salt in this evil world, but to stand aside and watch “the wonders of science” find the most convenient and least embarrassing way to rid ourselves of this population, is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

This point is a very interesting one. I never really thought what a world would be like with no disabled people in it. I think that all the new technology to show whether or not a mother is going to have a baby with down syndrome is evil in it's own way. I believe that every person has a right to live no matter what kind of disability or deformity they are born with. I believe that we are all children of Christ and we are here to pass along his word to others. Therefore I do believe that down syndrome chidren have a place on this earth. I recently met a person named Ryan with down syndrome in Dr. McNair's class. I believe that he had one of the best personalities out of many of the people that I have come into contact with through my life. I think that having a world without people like Ryan would just be horrible. What is next extincting all people that have a learning disability? Lynda Minard
Growth and Development

KateGladstone said...

The kind of world we'd have without disabled people would depend on HOW that imaginable world got to be without disabled people (of whom I am one). Did it get there /a/ by preventing our existence, or /b/ by preventing only our disabilities (while we got to live: able in body and mind?)