Do We Accept the Unacceptable?

by Richard Mansel, managing editor
emptywheelchair1.jpgWas a dark stormy night
As the train rattled on
All the passengers had gone to bed
Except a young man with a baby in his arms
Who sat there with a bowed-down head
The innocent one began crying just then
As though its poor heart would break
One angry man said, “Make that child stop its noise
For it’s keeping all of us awake.” /1
This short tune,called “Grandma’s Theme,” was on John Mellencamp’s album, Scarecrow. It is a powerful, profound song, rich in meaning and implications for Christians.
The baby was not hurting anyone, it just had needs and crying was his only means of communication. He was innocent and pleading for help. Yet, the angry man just wanted the young child to leave him alone, so he could go back to sleep.
This story is a metaphor about how we turn away the helpless and ignore the pleas of the hurting. Genocide in Darfur, the hurricanes in Haiti and the U.S. Gulf Coast, starving in Ethiopia and countless other examples indicate that people are eager to help the hurting in major catastrophes.
Yet, when the telescope moves closer, our warm hearts grow chilly. We fear those who are different. They make us uncomfortable and we cast furtive glances, to see if they are growing too close. We are polite, as long as they remain at a safe distance.
God’s people were once lost and hopeless without Christ (Romans 3:23). We were on the outside looking in, without any access to God (Isaiah 59:1-2). We were the undesirables, the enemies of God (Romans 5:10).
As weak humans, we desire our own kind. We will find a way to be around those like us. The problem is that we think we can do the same thing in the Church. However, we cannot limit the gospel to those who look and live, as we do (Matthew 28:18-20).
We offer the Word to the poor, rich, smart, ignorant, and to any race that will listen. Then, we accept those who become children of God, because God adds them, without asking us (Acts 2:47).
What about those who are in the Church, do we accept them? What about people who have legitimate problems and desire extra help?
Special education is the law of the land. Schools are required to teach them and make accommodations. They must make allowances for their quirks and disabilities. These special children number in the tens of thousands nationwide. Yet, I cannot remember ever hearing of special education Bible classes!
I wonder how many people are “run-off,” because the congregation did not want to bother with them.
What about people who suffer from various emotional and mental problems? Do we treat them as lepers and ignore them or whisper about them until they leave? How many people have been lost, as a result?
“Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in his sight.” What about disabled children? What about Down’s syndrome kids? What about those with legitimate behavior problems?
Spanking does not cure genetic problems or colic. Disabilities do not disappear because of someone else’s parenting’s techniques. Neither parent sinned that their children were born this way.
The truth is that we want to sleepwalk through our lives and anything different, wakes us up and we want to eliminate it.
When will we grow up and realize that people have legitimate problems? God loves every person. Why don’t we?

One Reply to “Do We Accept the Unacceptable?”

  1. Richard, this is a very nice read. As a parent of a 2 year old son with Down Syndrome it does strike a chord. I must say that in the last 2 and a half years I have met some uninformed people as well as unfortunately some very ignorant people. The uninformed I can always deal with the others are very difficult. Growing up I was probably more of the turn your head away kids. Didn’t ever make direct fun of anyone but I’m sure I’ve had my share of tasteless jokes. I was a ‘think happy thoughts’ person when some kind of tragedy or sadness hit. My sister however sought it out. She worked with special needs children for as long as I can remember. And whenever she brought some ‘work’ home with her, I found myself realizing how little there was to the ‘disability’ of this person. They are just a kid doing their thing. I spent a lot of time after my son was born bouncing between anger, disappointment, pure joy, and a running sense of absolute love. I had my time of looking up and asking why would you do this to me? What was it I did so wrong? But it wasn’t that at all. My wife and I were chosen with this blessing and this undertaking for God. Something I realize now is that before him, I thought my life was just about living, but now I see it being so much more. This is my mission. I live on Long Island in NY and our parish is excellent. My daughter who is 6 recently signed up for the start of religous Education and while there I asked about my son. When his time comes will they be equiped to work with him. She smiled at me and said, “if you instill the same beliefs and values in him that you have in your daughter, then God will make sure we are ready for him.” Like everything in our lives and this world today, initial judgements are human nature. What we do from day one, will shape who we become and how we get there.
    Great article, thank you and God Bless.

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