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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Why I Won't See (Or Read) "Me Before You"

I'm sure you're starting to hear about it. Emilia Clarke is obviously beautiful, and the guy is handsome. Fair enough. And I would normally love a story about a person with a disability finding love, especially with an "able-bodied" person.

(But...)

Suicide is not a morally acceptable choice. We need to be clear on how we have been infected with utilitarianism, the idea that the value of our lives is determined by our usefulness to others. As these paragraphs make clear, God alone is the Master of life and death. We can be useful and helpful to one another. As I've said before, I'm cheered every time Roger Federer walks on a tennis court. But when it's all said and done, 17 major championships doesn't mean much to the Lord. Let's just say, He values different things.

The inviolable dignity of the human person is affirmed and known by virtue of his or her destiny. Our purpose in life is eternal communion with God, who is Life without end.

On a personal note, I have wrestled with feelings this story aims to bring to light. Every disabled person has believed at some point they were a burden to family, friends, and caregivers. They might not even tell you that. It's why I go through this personal liturgy every time I have a need:

Me: Thanks for the help. It's probably not everyone's first choice of things to do.
Person: Really, it's no trouble at all.
Me: Well, I appreciate it.

Even if they have already done something similar 50 times before. Even if it has been ordained by God as a sacrifice for them to do, I don't feel free to let the moment pass without some acknowledgement that it has taken place. In some odd way, I find myself every day as a part of a mystical transaction in the economy of charity. This book and movie tells us to forget all that, to surrender to one's feelings of inadequacy, rather than turn a weakness into a strength, offering it as a gift to God, and to others. We should rather just die.

In another respect, as much as I can roll my eyes at what we in "the community" call "inspiration porn," (because I'm no hero, I'm just a guy) who am I to decide when somebody should be inspired by me or not? I got told that twice this week, and hey, I'm happy to help. My friends and family can puncture my ego whenever they like. If some random person draws strength from me, who am I to argue? I think that debate needs to continue.

As a semi-sidebar, anybody recall Dick and Rick Hoyt? They are a father-son duo, and Rick has CP, just like me. Dick got this crazy idea to get in shape, and maybe help Rick feel more valued, to do triathlons, while taking Rick with him. Google it; I'll wait. And you can misconstrue it, if you think Rick didn't do anything. Ask Dick, and he will say otherwise. If you can't get inside that, from Rick's point of view, you might be that "ableist" that the activists talk about. Even the smallest things we do, to feel more human, they can be mighty things, and worth doing. I'm enjoying every letter I physically type on this keyboard. It's harder for me than it is for you, and that's part of the point.

If we are able, let us revel in what we are, for we are made in God's image, and for His likeness, and no physical inability, or other impairment changes that. Part of accepting God's love means loving ourselves, and that may mean rejecting the inordinate self-love that puts suicide on the table, if we don't fit some ridiculous cultural definition of "usefulness." You're darn right, I'm boycotting this movie, and with gleeful gusto.

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