God’s gift to keep us human

Down SyndromeBy Tom Quiner

Humanity burst through into a pro-death culture in surprising ways in 2019. One of the most heartwarming events occurred at the most raucous PGA golf tournament of the year, the Waste Management Open in January, involving a woman with Down Syndrome. 

During a practice round on the 16th hole, which has been dubbed the “loudest hole in golf,” touring pros Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar pulled a 21 year old college student out of the crowd to play the hole with them. The young woman, Amy Bockerstette, stands out because she was born with Down Syndrome.

Despite the physical limitations imposed by having an extra chromosome, Amy is an outstanding golfer. She played the hole beautifully in front of a very vocal crowd, topping it off by holing a ten foot putt to the delight of all.

The video went viral, becoming the most watched PGA video in history.

You can hear Amy remark in the video above, “they love me!”

Indeed they do, and her biggest fan is her dad, Joe Bockerstette. Says Joe of his daughter:

“It’s a great lesson in not putting limitations on your child. Amy’s opened up more opportunities than we could ever imagine. She’s changed our lives completely, and all for the better.”

Watching this video, one has a sense that Amy is God’s gift to us, because through her innocence, she makes us more human, more fully alive. And yet we abort nine out ten persons identified with that extra chromosome.

Later in the year, Hollywood produced a heartwarming film,“The Peanut Butter Falcon,” which starred Zack Gottsagen, who has Down syndrome. Zack’s character, ‘Zak,’ escapes from a nursing home in which he is forced to live since he has no family to care for him.

The movie isn’t about Down Syndrome, it’s about Zak’s pursuit of adventure and the embrace of manhood. It’s about how Zak makes the world a better place by bringing out the humanity in those he encounters.

It’s a movie that suggests that life is a gift, and deserves to be lived.

The trailer below gives you a good sense of what a feel-good movie this is:

Critics give it a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and viewers give it a 96% rating. Not bad! The film earned three times its budget.

Watching the film, you come away with the sense that Zack (and his character, Zak), through his innocence, is God’s gift to us, because he makes us feel more human, more fully alive.

The Christmas season especially makes us consider the virtue of innocence, because God comes to us a child, an innocent, hopeful child.

Wall Street Journal columnist, Bill McGurn, wrote an inspired piece Monday about…

“those who are in last place in the world … [and] hold in the church the exceptional role of spouses of Christ.”

And to whom does he refer? The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, religious women devoted to “ensuring their fellow sisters with Down syndrome can live their vocations.”

Beautiful. These sisters remind us that every life matters, that the innocence of Downs women and men make us better.

McGurn quotes from a novel I read years ago called “The Clowns of God,” by Morris West.

In the novel, Christ returns to earth. Not surprisingly, the culture doesn’t recognize him. As the story builds to a climax, Jesus enters a school of Downs syndrome students, picks up a little girl, and says:

“I know what you are thinking, you need a sign. What better one could I give but to make this little one whole and new? I could do it, but I will not. . . . I gave this mite a gift I denied to all of you—eternal innocence. To you she looks imperfect—but to me she is flawless.”

“She is necessary to you. She will evoke the kindness that will keep you human. Her infirmity will prompt you to gratitude for your own good fortune. . . . This little one is my sign to you. Treasure her!’ ”

Merry Christmas.