May 3, 2012 by Stephen
Those are the final words in an opinion piece by George F. Will in today’s Washington Post. They are written about his soon-to-be 40- year-old son, Jon. Jon has Down syndrome. When he was born, the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was about 20 years. Today, after discovering that people with Down syndrome are people capable of living well, that life expectancy is 60 years. Will offers several compelling, at least to me, reasons/arguments for why more people like his son Jon would be a benefit to our world. They are nice, they are brave, and they are trusting – all qualities our world could benefit from having more of in people.
As someone who lives in the metro D.C. area, I found the last few paragraphs of the piece especially interesting. Will says that his son has benefitted the most from two things in D.C. – the Metro subway system and the return of baseball to D.C. Jon is an expert at using the subway, something which cannot be said about many in our area. The (athletically gifted) baseball players are extraordinarily nice and welcoming to Jon.
Jon’s gift is his serenity:
The eldest of four siblings, he has seen two brothers and a sister surpass him in size, and acquire cars and college educations. He, however, with an underdeveloped entitlement mentality, has been equable about life’s sometimes careless allocation of equity. Perhaps this is partly because, given the nature of Down syndrome, neither he nor his parents have any tormenting sense of what might have been. Down syndrome did not alter the trajectory of his life; Jon was Jon from conception on.
Tomorrow is Jon’s birthday. He’ll spend it at his seat at the Nationals game, rooting for the Nats to beat the Phillies. He won’t be a man with Down syndrome – he’ll be a Washington Nationals fan. Happy Birthday, Jon!