I am greatly troubled by the newly released film, Me Before You, that is glamorizing Physician Assisted Suicide for adults affected by disability. I am disgusted with the appalling message sent from this seemingly innocent and fun loving, romantic comedy that really loving people who are disabled means that you allow them to end their own lives. My heart is heavy and breaking for my friends who are disabled to have seen something so hurtful. I think of my heroes Joni Earackson Tada and Katherine Wolf who, through a broken neck and a massive brain stem stroke, live courageously with a life altering disability and have changed countless lives and impacted the world in a way that they never would have, had it not been for their disability. I have seen first-hand, the 34 year strong, marriage of Joni and Ken Tada in action. I have seen the fun, love and sincerity in their relationship, even through difficult times.
I am just sick to think about people that have been recently been affected by a disability and might have gone to see this movie in the hopes of receiving some encouragement, and instead, come away with the idea that maybe they would be better off dead. If that is you, let me give you truth. You’re life is ALWAYS worth living. You still have purpose in your pain, and God has not left you or forgotten you. He is with you through it all and He loves you deeply.
I think of my friends at the farm. If you don’t know, I co founded a non profit that seeks to celebrate, educate and employ adults with developmental disabilities. The joy that abounds here at the farm is like heaven came to earth. The sense of peace is something you will not find anywhere else. The talents and gifts that reside in my co workers with disabilities is absolutely astounding. Yes, there are incredibly hard days. Days where we are tired of not fitting in, not getting the job, not getting invited, not passing the test or just from living in a world that isn’t on your side. When those hard days come, my staff and I are there to rally around the hurting, to remind them of their value and to celebrate their purpose. We had a friend who works with us who recently toyed with the idea of suicide. He has autism and has mental health issues. Thinking of condoning and supporting this idea is absolutely egregious to me! Instead, we sprang into action. We put him on 24 watch, encouraged him and reminded him of his worth and how important he is to us. He is now stable, employed and happy to be alive. He has a team of supporters who have him over for dinner, bring him to church and show him God’s love. People with disabilities are at the highest risk of being aborted. Doctors are actually convincing young and fearful couples that abortion is the right and kind thing to do. That the world is no place for someone with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy etc. My response, “You must not know anyone with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy, because if you did, I wouldn’t have to explain anything to you.” This is why holistic integration is important, because people must know personally those who have disabilities. When you know someone who is developmentally disabled and that person has touched your life, it changes everything. I see that today, people with disabilities are up against the risk of being convinced that their life is just not worth living.
Friends, when we do not trust in the sovereignty of God and that He intentionally knit each person together carefully in the womb of their mother, we are headed for the breakdown of the sanctity of every human life. Every life is precious. Every single one.
Lastly, I think of my sister with Down Syndrome (cue tears). She is 40, and she is happy and loved by her family and friends and I consider her life of more value than my own. To think that our society is even remotely headed in a direction that does not see her life as anything but deeply and intrinsically valuable and worth fighting for causes me to rise up and speak out. I will not shrink back in fear or look the other way in complacency. Until my least breath, I will speak for those who may not be able to find the words to speak for themselves. Amen.