Humans Like To Be Happy
My family had known for a long time that my brother Sam's knees were going to need to have surgery. He has Down Syndrome, so his joints are loose, and the way he walks has damaged both of his knees. Originally, the specialists had said that surgery wouldn't actually help his knees at all but after a while his left knee deteriorated even further and the decision was made to perform surgery on it but not on the right knee.
I had expected him to resist and be unhappy every step of the way, but I underestimated his adaptability and how happy of a person he was. Soon he was scooting around the house in his wheelchair like everything was normal. Now he is able to walk with a knee brace, and he's still always happy.
This experience for me demonstrates the fact that people are often able to adapt to more than they are given credit for, and there is a big difference between a hypothetical situation and actually being in that situation. We've all thought “If I wasn't able to walk or if I lost an arm or if my face was disfigured, I don't know how I'd live.” But there are people who live happy, fulfilling lives who have all of those problems, and I'm sure that if you had asked them if they wanted to be paralyzed or lose an arm or sustain third degree burns on their face, they would have looked at you like you were crazy.
This translates into everyday life because people often cite quality of life as a reason for the abortion of children who have mental or physical disabilities. In fact, 90% of all babies who have Down Syndrome like my brother are now being aborted before their parents and the doctors have a chance to find out whether they will live a good life or not. Everyone who I've met who has Down's is extremely happy and content.
I guess the moral of this story is that one should never be closed minded about how happy somebody can be in a condition that is worse than theirs. When that's all you have, it tends to be enough.
"Humans Like to be Happy" is Copyright © 2009 by Seth Moyer under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.