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Eighth-grade winner, 2014 Archdiocese of Omaha Pro-Life Essay Contest

St. Wenceslaus Parish and School, Omaha

“Unfortunately, what is throw away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as ‘unnecessary.’” – Pope Francis.

In today’s society, appalling injustice occurs for those with physical and mental disabilities. They are unfairly treated as inferiors. Their experiences are indescribably sad, even though they are God’s children. Society may disrespect disabled persons, but they exemplify great love, and I can assist them in gaining the respect they deserve.

Too many disabled persons do not receive the dignity they deserve. Inexplicably, society says the disabled are of less value. Does this occur because of misinformation and peer pressure, or is it a reality because we made it one? I can’t imagine being the victim. How would it affect me, being ridiculed, ostracized, or ignored due to a disability I couldn’t help? These individuals are miraculous, somehow finding courage to face discrimination.

In my experience, those disabled are usually more inclined to be pleasant and happy than others. Once I knew a girl, Mary, with Down syndrome. Each time we met she would smile, ready to give a hug and say hello. There also is a custodian with Down syndrome at my school. Brian helps in the cafeteria. Constantly, he astounds me with the cheerfulness of his daily greeting. He is a faithful friend, never saying anything spiteful. Brian and Mary are role models for us. They show us how to act like Jesus.

I can assist these individuals by giving them the recognition and respect they deserve. “Recognize that all human life is sacred and must be respected and protected from conception to natural death” (CCC, #2258-2301). The Catechism clearly states our call as Catholics. It especially applies to how I treat the disabled on my journey. By respecting them, I can fulfill God’s command: loving my neighbor as I love myself. I can halt negative comments I might hear about Brian. Another way to help is to treat him fairly, seeing him as equal to others.

Disabled persons are God’s children, and should be treated with love. Too many wonderful individuals are downgraded by society. This is despite daily reminders that these people are constantly pleasant to interact with. I can help by applying my faith, stopping gossip, speaking respectfully, and being thoughtful and sympathetic. The disabled should be valued as God’s children.