Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist George Will turns 71 years old tomorrow, and his son Jon—born with Down Syndrome—turns 40. Here’s the conclusion to a column he wrote about his son:

The eldest of four siblings, he has seen two brothers and a sister surpass him in size, and acquire cars and college educations. He, however, with an underdeveloped entitlement mentality, has been equable about life’s sometimes careless allocation of equity. Perhaps this is partly because, given the nature of Down syndrome, neither he nor his parents have any tormenting sense of what might have been. Down syndrome did not alter the trajectory of his life; Jon was Jon from conception on.

This year Jon will spend his birthday where every year he spends 81 spring, summer and autumn days and evenings, at Nationals Park, in his seat behind the home team’s dugout. The Phillies will be in town, and Jon will be wishing them ruination, just another man, beer in hand, among equals in the republic of baseball.

In the fight for human dignity—which includes caring for the unborn, caring for orphans, caring for those with disabilities—we need to see hearts changed by the gospel and laws changed in the land. But we also need a cultural of encouragement for those who are in need, and more stories like this can only help.

And I pray that George Will, who is an agnostic, will recognize that the only basis for human dignity is our equality before our Creator, who made each of us in his image, and that redemption can only be found in the person and in the work of Jesus Christ.

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12 thoughts on “Down Syndrome at Age 40”

  1. My brother in law is 48. He also is Downs. In the past 10 years he has become less and less verbal, more and more withdrawn into his own world. He is surrounded by a family that loves and cares for him. His parents are in their mid 80’s. He is still living at home with them. It is hard. But it is right.

    I will also pray for Mr. Will.

  2. Bruce Russell says:

    Great post!

  3. Ed Morris says:

    My younger brother Richard who is 44 is also Downs. He has been a tremendous blessing to our family even though most remain unbelievers. He has congested heart failure and is in hospice at home with my mother who is 76 and has failing health as well. After graduation my wife and I are moving home to be closer to them and to help in whatever ways we can. The blessing Richard has been is immeasurable to our whole family.

  4. Taylor Brooks says:

    Hear, hear!

  5. lander says:

    Heartbroken to hear George is an agnostic. Are you quite sure?

    Thought he was an Episcopalian, almost the same thing as an agnostic I suppose.

    His principled stand against abortion led me to assume he feared a Holy God.

    Will and Peggy Noonan are thoughtful, principled stylists. Gerson is trying to get the bronze and in time may. But George Will is master.

      1. He didn’t seem to reference his son in this interview but it is hilarious. He is very witty and definitely worth watching.

      2. lander says:

        Terrific banter. He’s a Mencken with manners. I expected him to be proud and anti-fundy, but not agnostic. There is time. Lord have mercy.

  6. This post hits close to home. My daughter has Down syndrome and I could understand completely with this. She is young, but I am grappling now with the trajectory that her life might take, and being OK with that trajectory. I actually just wrote a post about how disability exposes the darkness of our hearts (http://richardpmoore.blogspot.com/). Thanks for posting this.

  7. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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