The Sad Truth About Some Cultures

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

When I heard about the story of a father named Samuel Forrest who accepted his son with unconditional love, even though his son Leo has Down syndrome, that was a very beautiful thing. It means that the boy is more important to the father than any cultural norms or cultural bias that discriminates against children with Down syndrome. I find it sad though that the mother, born and raised in Armenia, could not accept her own child and therefore tried to find a “culturally acceptable” way of dealing with the situation. In my view there is none in Armenia. The only option was simply adoption. Neither the mother nor her family or relatives would have accepted such a child because it did not fit the cultural norms of her country. This to me is a great tragedy—rejecting her own child. No matter what this child has (the baby never asked to be born with Down syndrome), he is still a child and in need of love and compassion and most of all a family that must accept him. At least the father has stepped up and will care and unconditionally love his son.

But it is one of the sad realities that so many children are rejected in this world for having some “flaw” that prevents them from having the love they should have. Having lived in Korea and Taiwan for years, I learned how children are rejected for a whole variety of reasons. They can be rejected for having Down syndrome. They can be rejected for the fact that they were born outside of wedlock (i.e. a single mother). They can be rejected for being girls (in too many Asian cultures, boys are far more prized than girls). They can be rejected if they are albinos. Also, they can be rejected because they are of mixed race (in the Chinese and Korean conceptions, they cannot be anything else except pure “Korean” or pure “Chinese”). And I must explain that Korea and Taiwan are light years ahead of many places in Asia. I do not like this reality, and I certainly think that it says too many things wrong about rejecting a child for something they cannot possibly be held responsible for.

There are too many backward and uninformed regions of our world that only make life that much worse. When we reject our own children because they are less than perfect, then we reject potential. Who is to say that a blind person is worth less than one with the ability to see? Who is to say that someone born without a certain limb is anything less than a person with all four limbs? These people might as easily become great geniuses later in life. Someone born with Down syndrome may indeed have a normal and productive life. If we went on the concept that persons of mixed race could not achieve anything, then Barack Obama would not be president of the United States. For those who wish to have children, the love and care should be there and should be unconditional. This can lead to the possibility that the babies with disabilities today may become the people who make our world a better place. I cannot, however, sugar-coat the reality in too many parts of our world where culture and social prejudices doom children to a horrible existence. I can only hope that Samuel Forrest will give Leo the best he can for his boy.

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