The Tree Grows Close to the Apple

Andrew Solomon's book Far From the Tree explores astonishingly difficult ethical dilemmas, such as:

1) should parents have the rights to genetically choose a child with a disability? . . . essentially insure that their child is deaf like them, or a dwarf like them . . . a process which might be regarded as the reverse of having a "designer baby"

 2) when should a parent abort a child? . . . is a disability a burden? something to be dreaded? or is it something unique that should be celebrated?

3) what is a disability? should we be able to screen our children for being gay or on the autism spectrum? and then be able to terminate them?

but despite these heavy questions, the final message of the book is a positive one: most parents do not want any other children than their own (though Shakespeare's Henry IV does wonder if some "night tripping fairy" has swapped his ne'er-do-well son with the heroic Hotspur . . . but in the end, he learns that Hal is the son for him) and parents will undergo mental gymnastics and passionate displays of emotion to love and enjoy and connect to whatever offspring they bear . . . Solomon ends saying "sometimes, I had thought the heroic parents in this book were fools, enslaving themselves to a life's journey with their alien children, trying to breed identity out of misery," but then he comes to the conclusion that all parents do this, they all seek some connection with their children, but also celebrate their individuality, and somehow see their children as different from all other children -- and so the tree that the proverbial apple doesn't fall far from is like an Ent, it may move closer to the apple if necessary, as the miraculous parents in this book did -- in figuring out how to care for deaf kids and the schizophrenic kids, kids with autism and severe disabilities, kids that commit crimes or are the product of rape, transgender kids, astounding prodigies, and kids with Down syndrome -- this is an intelligent and inspirational book and it will change the way you view the world, but it's super long, so you may have to read it in sections or choose the chapters that interest you; still, give it a shot, it is ground-breaking and heart-breaking, and it keeps things very real.


zman said...

Based on its length I suspect that this sentence was originally written in Entish. It takes a long time to say anything in Entish.

Dave said...

if i knew entish, i would tell my arbor vitae to grow faster.

Anonymous said...

We celebrate your uniqueness and individuality Dave.

Dave said...

i can't tell if the above comment is ironic or sincere.

zman said...

Or computer generated.

Dave said...

if it's computer generated, then the singularity is nigh.

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