"What did you just say?"
Five words marked me.
My best friend stood up to me, challenging my word selection.
Her sister had down syndrome. And at 12 years-old, she graciously reminded me that using the R-word in the place of other words that suggest "less-than" is absolutely not appropriate or reasonable.
Since that day, I've been an advocate against the R-word out of context. In light of tomorrow being WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY, I challenge you to do the same.
Consider what you're actually saying... when you replace the R-word with an alternative, it's typically "stupid," "ugly," or "limited." The friends I have with DNS actually embody the opposite of these three words.
Stupid? They are more emotionally intuitive in social situations than a lot of other people. If we all had the compassion and sensitivity to each other that these people do... man. What a world of true friends we would have.
Ugly? I urge you to challenge your small-minded view on beauty. These humans have one extra chromosome. It's all it is. If you're not there yet, let me assure you... some of my friends with DNS care more about fashion, wearing make-up and feeling dolled up than I do. Regardless, these are some of the most beautiful humans on the planet.
Limited? I have a friend with DNS who'd be inviting me out to the bar in Toronto, when I'd decline cause I was going to bed. I have another friend who jumped in a car on 5 minutes notice to come to church with me and my brother, and who paid for our food in our impromptu sushi outing.
Not limited socially.
Another friend was the only girl on the high school football team, an actor in community theatre, and concerned with nutrition and health.
Have you done any of that?
I have another friend come with me to Canada's first well-known international training school for figure skating on more than one occasion to train for special olympics. Her muscle tone was more pronounced than mine, her capacity to train was greater than mine, and her zeal for sport and art unmatchable.
Not limited athletically.
This same girl graduated elementary school, high school and went to college. She holds down a job all the while maintaining good relationships and pursuing her dreams in music and sport.
Not limited. At all.
An extra chromosome. Literally all it is.
If there's someone in your life with an extra twenty first chromosome, get to know them. Spend time with them. They will most likely be friend you'll want around cause they'll probably be more kind, passionate, empathetic and willing than your other friends. They will probably bring you way more joy than your other friends.
They will be the one that senses you're sad before you say anything, and will hug you without needing you to explain or have it all together. They will be the ones who say yes to adventures and dance in public with you. Heck they will model what dancing your way through life looks like. They won't care about how you look that day, and they will probably teach you more about the gospel than you would be mentally prepared for. They will be the ones who are moved by injustice, and appreciate good things.