When Regina was pregnant with our three children, people would ask if it was a boy or a girl. When I responded with, “We don’t know,” I was met with the ubiquitous, iniquitous, mindless, and moronic refrain:
“As long as it’s healthy.”
I would challenge this well-intentioned, ill-thought well-wish with:
“If it isn’t, we’ll love the child all the same, and even more.”
That shook people out of their torpor and made them realize exactly what they were saying. It usually left most pretty angry with me.
“Can’t you just accept a good wish and leave it at that?” was the reply of one associate.
It’s a valid point, but one that fails to own up to what was being said. “As long as it’s healthy,” is a world apart from, “I wish your child health and happiness.” Even in the absence of health, one can have happiness, fulfillment and contentment. In an age of increasing reliance on pre-natal technology to murder the pre-born for the crimes of being female, male, having cleft palate, clubbed foot, spina bifida, Down syndrome, trisomy 18, etc…, “As long as it’s healthy,” rings deadly ominous. It needs to be confronted.
Thomas Jefferson wrote the antidote to our eugenic mentality in a letter to his daughter, Patsy. It stands for all time as the most eloquent reproach to the intolerance of imperfection:
Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for; for none of us, no, not one, is perfect; and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.