Why we cannot bear to look upon suffering

In James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, he wrote: “White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this—which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never—the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”

This is a startling diagnosis of how racism betrays a person’s own existential insecurity.

Extending beyond the issue of racism, there is this fascinating insight that another’s suffering can actually intimidate us because, in some ultimate sense, we know that it could just as well be us.

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Thumbs Up for Life with Down Syndrome

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, and so this evening my friends and I were reflecting on the value of those with Down Syndrome in our lives.

My favourite story my friend shared was about a man named Peter for whom she cared for one year while working as a live-in assistant at a L’Arche community in Montreal.

Peter was in his 30s and his kidneys did not work well. He was on dialysis and, because he could not urinate properly, he also had a catheter that, in his case, was surgically changed every six months.

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