Save French television

future-mom“Dear Future Mom” is among the most powerful little videos ever produced.

Fifteen young people with Down syndrome give a message of joy and hope in several languages.  The simply goal is to assure women expecting a baby with Down Syndrome that the future with that child can be beautiful, fulfilling, worth the hard work and sacrifice required.

I have watched the video over and over.  It brings a tear to my eye and (yes, it is true) makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

But apparently the impact in France is different.

The French government has banned the showing of the video on television.  The reason is so convoluted that it is difficult to explain, let alone understand – but let me try.

OK…you don’t want to show a video of happy down Down syndrome children because it would make women who aborted Down syndrome babies feel bad.

Following this line of thought, I don’t think the French can put much of anything on television.

  • No normal, happy babies – that would make any woman who ever had an abortion feel bad.
  • No married couples – that would make divorced folks feel bad.
  • No soccer matches with fit athletes – that would make lazy slobs feel bad.
  • No shiny new cars – that would make drivers of 10-year-old cars feel bad.
  • No green lawns – that would make owners of weedy lawns feel bad.
  • No basketball or volleyball matched with tall players – that would make short people feel bad.
  • No beautiful actresses or handsome actors – they would make the rest of us feel bad.
  • No law-abiding citizens – they would make criminals feel bad.
  • No young people – they would make old people envious.
  • No old people – they might scare young people about what lies ahead.

In short, there isn’t anything you can put on French television that won’t hurt someone’s fragile sensitivities.  But the least hurtful certainly would be an inspiring video of young people living with Down syndrome.

A reality check


For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others. Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

 This warning against idleness was the second reading at Mass last Sunday.

Like many second readings, it probably didn’t register in the minds and hearts of many of the faithful.  Pastors don’t often jump at the opportunity to opine on second readings.

However, this particular reading slipped into my train of thought, which was troubled by the many post-election demonstrations, the images of young people throwing tantrums because someone they don’t like will be President of the United States.

Some might think protesting in the streets is a noble thing, a brave thing.  And if you are standing again tyranny in China, defending the unborn or demanding justice for the innocent, it is a noble thing.

Whining because you lost an election isn’t noble – it is childish.  Violent protests that injure people or destroy property are criminal.  Throwing a public tantrum because you didn’t get your way or disagree with others is, well, an act of idleness.

It isn’t constructive, positive or helpful.  And it reflects an underlying and arrogant assumption on the part of the protestors that they are someone entitled to have their way.

I have a suspicion that many of these young protestors got the message early on in life that they are special.  School should be free.  They have a right to self-actualization.  Health care is a right.  College is a right.  Economic security is a right.  A position of importance in an important organization is a right.  The world must hear what they have to say and agree with what they think.  They are the future.

And in the town where they grew up, everyone was far above average.

My wise Aunt Louise told me as I got ready to go to college that I was entering the most selfish time of my life.  Of course, I was taken aback and protested mightily.  But it gave me pause when she pointed out that I would be living in a dorm with all my meals provided, attend classes I chose, study in between social events, attend football games, drink too much, eat too much and more or less focus entirely on myself for at least four years.

In other words, she had a point.  And I expect today’s protestors come from a similar perspective, augmented by the gnawing fear that their degree in gender studies will be less marketable than it is currently fashionable.

This is a free country and everyone has the right to express their opinion.  But with freedom comes responsibility to be constructive and avoid damage to others.

I recommend the protestors put down their rocks and get back to class or work.  If you want to change the world, your opportunity comes at the next election – or be doing something positive today for someone else.

Here comes history

america-870087_960_720Many Americans are trying to hold two seemingly incompatible truths in their minds at the same moment:  The sun came up this morning and Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.

It must be true, because even the New York Times reported:

Donald John Trump was elected 45th president of the United States on Tuesday in a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist and polarizing campaign that took relentless aim at the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy.

Truth be told, the Times didn’t comment on the rising of the sun, and they were so terribly wrong in suggesting that Trump attacked “the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy.”

Trump criticized big government, high taxes, over-regulation, abortion, open borders and political correctness.  News flash:  none of those is long-held ideals of American democracy.  In fact, politicians who promote those ideas are in complete contradiction to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers.

I suppose Trump’s victory is stunning to some folks, but not to people who live in small towns far removed from New York City, Hollywood and Washington.  The nation’s “newspaper of record” might do well to visit the space between the Hudson River and the eastern border of Los Angeles.

There is much prayer and work ahead to heal the divisions in our nation.  But I chuckle a bit when I hear people say, “we’ve never been so divided.”  We have.

Trump faces the challenge of bringing people together, but Abe Lincoln had a rather divided nation on his hands.

Woodrow Wilson struggled to achieve enough political consensus for the US to enter World War I.

Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t lead the US into World War II until well after the fall of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain.  It took Pearl Harbor to get our full attention.

The pain – and sometimes violence – of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War protests revealed a nation torn apart by fear and hatred.  Many of those scars remain.

Yes, we have many problems.  The United States is not and never will be the Garden of Eden.  But we remain the world’s best hope for truth and freedom.  Let’s get to it.