I watched the programme made by Sally Phillips about ‘A world without Down’s Syndrome’. There wasn’t one mention of God in the whole programme, but it threw up some big questions for our society, questions which I think point to our need of God if our society is not to go down a path that de-humanises us.
Half way through the programme as Sally talked to some leading genetic experts in a very calm and civilised way about new techniques for screening defects of babies still in the womb. She agreed that what was important was that it was a woman’s right to choose what to do with the baby in the womb – whether to let the baby live or not. By the end of the programme she was voicing her concern about the supremacy of that principle and if it gave a satisfactory answer to the issues involved. She didn’t say what all of the issues involved were, she just knew that in her son who had Down’s there as something more involved than the choice to abort or not. The fear she did voice was that in our search for perfection were we not losing something that in its imperfection was an essential characteristic of being human. She saw in her son a gift in his very ‘imperfection’ that wasn’t about the imperfection but about adding something wonderful to her family and to her life. The search to eliminate all that was imperfect for human was for her a troubling development.
Not everyone can see imperfections as giving something to life; many are afraid of it and I’m certain we can trace much of that fear to modern advertising’s presentation of perfection and beauty to us in order to sell us the feel good factor that goes with retail therapy. What we often miss is the depression that sets in and grows in our life, the dependence on some new fix and illusion that we have something shiny new and perfect. So we become more and more unaccepting of what is imperfect. We believe that we cannot deal with imperfections, we cannot live with them we cannot be happy unless everything is perfect.
One of the good things about God is that we cannot but face our imperfections and the imperfections of the world; we cannot pretend that we can gain perfection by science or technology. So we have to allow ourselves to be loved even in our imperfections and trust in that love to save us.
We live in a world that is filled with stress: stress to keep up with the standard of living, stress to keep a job, to cope with family, to cope with illness. But who says we have to be perfect in all of this? We have been brainwashed into thinking that we need all of these things, that if we don’t have them we will be a failure. Life has to be perfect and we have to work and work till we can have that perfection.
There is another way; but it is a big decision to throw off the perceived wisdom and settle for something that seems less than perfect according to the standards we are being fed each day.