A woman in British Columbia discovered a beautiful head shot of her daughter with Down’s Syndrome was being used to advertise for an Swiss early detection prenatal screening company. The company boasts in its ability to detect chromosomal abnormalities early and accurately. Someone had stolen the picture from her blog, made it into a stock photo and now, her perfect little girl with an extra chromosome had become a poster child for imperfection. Thanks to the prenatal screening company her face was advertising, as well as many others like it, thousands of babies detected to have abnormalities are quickly and easily eliminated from society every year. Broken works of art that belong in a waste bin.
In a hospital bed at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, an 11 month old boy fights for his life. Many of us know Charlie Gard by name now. He suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition called Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome and his story has become international news. Charlie was born a perfectly healthy baby; nothing seemed amiss with his body until he was a few months old. But now, he is brain damaged. His body relies on a ventilator to help him breath. There are many things his body is unable to do at this point. Therefore, The hospital and European Court see no reason for Charlie to live anymore because to them, his life no longer holds any value. As important officials feign concerns for suffering there is no proof he is enduring, even the hope of a potential life saving treatment available in America is not a hope worth pursuing in their eyes. He is a broken work of art whose breath must cease. His parents have been told the coffin is a more fitting, dignified home for their son.
Everyday, our society is engaged in discussions of life and death, right and wrong, worth and uselessness. Injustice blankets our world, a festering disease with no resolution. Caught in the cross hairs of these discussions are the most vulnerable among us: the mentally and physically handicapped, the brain damaged, the coma patient, the person who cannot breath without a machine.
Their very lives may well be hanging on the words or decisions of another. Therefore how we fundamentally view them is crucial. Is the person confined to a hospital bed and life support machine expendable? Is the amount of brain function a person possesses the measure of their value? Above all, is God, the maker of us all, an artist who renders mistakes? Does he uphold the killing of those who are sick and weak? Is He a Darwinistic deity who believes only the strong and able shall live and populate this earth?
Contrary to all our human pride and wisdom, 1 Corinthians tells us an utterly shocking fact: “But God chose the foolish things of the world the shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.”
What the world looks on as broken individuals the earth is better without, God views with a particular compassion, grace, plan and purpose. Their very lives scream for justice, for fairness, for compassion, for a love so deep it breaks all our perceptions. Their fight for life and equality under the law is our fight. And for those who are not physically or mentally able to wage battle when their well being is threatened, Proverbs instructs us who are able to, “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.”
In the familiar words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Note: I write this for Charlie Gard and his parents. I write this because in the past two weeks, their plight has become my plight. It is not only my mother’s heart that pleads their cause before the maker of heaven and earth, but also a deep seeded cry for justice. This tiny human being, broken beyond repair in the eyes of the courts and hospital, is deeply precious and cared for by God . He holds him in the palm of His hand and, “No powers of hell, no schemes of man can ever pluck [Charlie] from His hands.”