The caption of a short video caught my eye recently. The video’s frozen image showed a man in his mid-20s standing on a stair; the caption read: “Going to see my little brother when he gets home from school like [sunshine emoji].” Curious, I clicked on it, and what I saw made my day. Older brother Nick began dancing to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” as he dance-walked to a car, where his younger brother stepped out and joined him. They embraced, then danced together.
His younger brother is Gabe, and Gabe has Down syndrome.
Though the video was just over 30 seconds long, its effects have lasted days—for me and apparently for hundreds of thousands of people. The love between these brothers and the fun they share—as shown through several dozen additional videos—illustrates beautifully that ability doesn’t matter. The bonds of family are forever binding.
So I began to do a little research on the brothers—Nick and Gabe Safier—and I found that during COVID, Nick began creating videos showing his family’s life with Gabe in an attempt to “heighten awareness of developmentally disabled peoples and encourage society to understand that living in a world of neurodiversity, to quote Temple Grandin, is ‘different not less.’”
And that is a vital lesson we must all firmly grasp. People who have disabilities are different, not less. No one loses their inherent dignity because of what they can or cannot do. No one is less of a person or child of God because of their abilities. It’s way past time that the world sees people with Down syndrome or other challenges just as the family members of these individuals do—as beautiful, unique, and loved.
I sent the video to a friend who has a son with Down syndrome, and after she wrote and said it was really cute, she added, “If only the whole world were that nice.”
Indeed. If only.
Sadly, the world sees people with disabilities as “defective,” “imperfect,” or even “broken.” Because of this misperception, many mothers who find that their preborn baby might have Down syndrome become so afraid that they abort them. In the US, research found that between 1995 and 2011, 67% chose abortion. In England, that number is currently about 90%. And in Iceland, it’s nearly 100%.
These numbers are one of the many reasons that Nick Safier wants to raise awareness about Down syndrome. He wants the world to understand that people with Down syndrome are loving, caring, unique individuals—just like everyone else. They have good days like you and I do. They have bad days like you and I do. And they have frustrating days like you and I do.
Yes, they may have more medical complications, but these physical problems do not make them less worthy of love. And they most certainly don’t make them less of a person.
Families like the Safiers and other advocates for those with disabilities show the world the beauty and uniqueness of all people, yet sometimes they feel like they are fighting an uphill battle when they encounter prejudices. However, they know that their efforts make a difference, as they receive thousands of messages from people saying how the videos brightened their days, opened their eyes, or gave them a different perspective. This impact is invaluable, and it’s one that will save lives.
If we are to truly change hearts and minds, we must follow Christ’s command to care for others. This excludes no one. So let us learn to see all people as Christ sees them. Let us look into their eyes and see our Lord. Let us care for them as He would. Let us teach that all babies—regardless of ability—deserve a chance at life.
When we take action to help others see the value of all people, we plant seeds that will grow into beautiful fruit. To do this, we must support the families of people with disabilities. We must give our time to help with things that may make their lives a little easier—whether that’s offering a supportive ear, making a dinner during an especially difficult time, or acting as a respite caregiver when a family member just needs some time away.
These small acts of kindness are powerful ways to shower God’s love on His children. And as these seeds grow and the fruit disperses into the world, we will find that we are creating not only the awareness that is so crucial to building a culture of life, but we are also loving as Christ would.
That is the kind of world we should all strive for and one that will eventually change the lament “If only the whole world were that nice” into a statement of hope as we proudly proclaim that we are living in a “world that is that nice.”
This article first appeared in LifeSiteNews at lifesitenews.com/opinion/how-should-the-world-see-people-with-down-syndrome-just-ask-these-two-brothers/?utm_source=news&utm_campaign=catholic.