In the eyes of some, August fits stereotypical images such as the comic-strip character Zippy the Pinhead. Yet likening my son, and other people who have microcephalic heads, to Zippy is about as relevant as likening African-Americans to blackface caricatures. In the eyes of others, August resembles Terri Schiavo, who, for the secular-educated, triggers the fearful response of “better off dead than disabled.” Many such well-meaning people would like to put an end to August’s suffering, but they do not stop to consider whether he actually is suffering. At times he is uncomfortable, yes, but the only real pain here seems to be the pain of those who cannot bear the thought that people like August exist. For many of those folks, someone with August’s caliber of cognitive and physical disability raises the question of where humanity leaves off and animality begins. But that animal-human divide is spurious, a faulty either-or.
And then there are the Christians, who see in August a child of God. Given the educated alternative I just sketched out, that response seems a relief. Here in the South, they come up and say “God bless!,” to which, depending on the occasion and the person, I sometimes respond, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Do you see what he said? Christians are the opposite of educated.
It’s clear, but generally unstated.
from A Life Beyond Reason