Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Person's A Person

Did you ever read Dr Seuss's book, "Horton Hears A Who"?  Perhaps the most memorable line in it is:
"A person's a person, no matter how small"

Dr Seuss was teaching children something profound. In the Bible, God talks about there being
"neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female..." (Galatians 3:28)

According to God, all people are of equal value.  A person's a person no matter... what.

I've just read a book called "Ghost Boy"* written by Martin Pistorius, a man who spent years unable to move or communicate on his own and yet fully alive and aware in the prison of his own body.  His story is a reminder of the truth that God told long before Martin existed: God has put a spirit in man that makes us unique in His creation.  God has given each of us something that makes us people, a completely different creation to animals.

One of my great longings is that we all remember this whenever we see a person with a disability, especially an "intellectual" disability.  The brain is just part of the body that can be broken like a leg or an arm.  The brain can get "sick" just like a heart or liver.  BUT if someone has a broken leg or heart disease or cancer, we don't assume that they are less of a person.  We don't think that they won't mind eating custard every day for the rest of their lives and sit them in front of children's television for days on end.  On the other hand, if a person drools and mumbles apparent nonsense (or doesn't talk at all) or rocks back and forth endlessly - if their brain is "broken" - we tend to treat them as though they're not people at all anymore.  In fact, we often call them "vegetables".

But God said that He is the giver of every good gift.  One of those gifts is the human spirit.  Is God capable of giving us something that is broken?  The brain might be broken, but inside every person, no matter how vacant or weird or scarey they seem, there is a human spirit, and just because the brain is broken doesn't mean the spirit is.  There is neither slave nor free to God - surely being trapped in the prison of a dysfunctional brain is another kind of slavery.  But God sees the person inside the prison.  A person is a person no matter what.

Jesus came so that everyone could have an opportunity for eternal life.  No exceptions.  God sees and values the person inside the prison.  God sees everyone as equally valuable.  Do we?

*While this was an excellent book in many ways, it does include some very disturbing content about the author being horribly abused in a care home.  Sensitive readers may prefer to skip chapters 35 and 36 (titled "Memories" and "Lurking in Plain Sight").  I would have preferred not to read the graphic details myself.