My 92-year-old dad’s left hand is, for lack of a better term, messed up. It didn’t develop properly in the womb. It’s an oval-shaped thing with small, dangly, non-working nubs.
I have never considered him handicapped. I’d guess the same is true of most kids whose parents were in some manner not physically “right.”
He was a great athlete in his youth. He’s also a pretty dang good carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic, horseman, farrier, farmer, rancher, hunter, and fisherman. And yes, he can do all of those things better than I can, even with my two working hands.
Dad’s birth defect—yes that’s what it is, it isn’t supposed to be like that—has absolutely no bearing on his moral standing as a human being. He is not somehow morally “less” simply because a hand didn’t develop as designed. His hand is both natural—it occurred, didn’t it?—and unnatural—that isn’t how a hand is supposed to be—at the same time.
But in no way is he morally inferior because of this reality. He is not defined by his left hand. It is an aspect of him, but only one among countless others, and not a very important one, either. I suppose people could use his left hand as the sole means to define him but that would be silly.
Each of us is like a multifaceted cut diamond with hundreds and hundreds of aspects. As free individuals each of us can choose which aspects of a person are of most importance and judge and discriminate for or against them accordingly. Not everyone is my cup-of-tea and I am certain I’m not all that for many others.
I think of this when I see my college buddy’s 30-year-old son who developed a serious brain malfunction a decade ago. He visits his personal hell on an almost constant basis. It is heartbreaking to see. But he simply has a brain issue. Just like my dad’s left hand, his brain didn’t develop exactly as designed. It is again both natural and unnatural but in no way is he morally inferior; he is not “less” in any way.
I think of this when I see a friend’s autistic child. He is not morally defective; he simply got dealt a crappy hand in the development of his brain. Natural and unnatural at the same time.
And I’ve been thinking about this as I read about the growing movement to more fully accept those whose sexual traits exist outside the norm. Although many in these movements don’t want to accept this truth, their sexual preferences are both natural and unnatural at the same time. But this does not make them morally inferior. Not morally defective. Just different on one aspect of the hundreds that make us who we are.
Each of us has unnatural aspects. Some are small and some are large. Some are hidden and some stand out. But each of us is so much more than these quite natural differences. Each individual is a cornucopia of traits. Some we might like and some we might not. We can choose our friends and shun others based on a single trait or the collection of the whole.
My dad is not defined by his left hand. We don’t need to celebrate his left hand, simply accept it for what it is; a very small and not very important part of a much larger mosaic. And I am dang lucky to have him as my dad.
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