The Beauty of All Babies Sep 2, 2014

The year 2014 has had its ups and downs, like most years...but I want to share some stories with you that help transcend the peaks and valleys of life and help me to keep things in perspective.

On August 21, 2014 at 2:21 PM EST, our family welcomed into the world little Connor William Valenzano. He weighed in at a sold nine pounds and 21 inches long and while he doesn't quite yet fit into the NY Yankee Uniform and Catching Gear his "Poppie" got him, the hope is that he will soon. My wife and I are now the proud grandparents of seven grandchildren and young Connor was the tie-breaker.....we now have four grandsons and three granddaughters. It's a rather different perspective from the five sons my wife and I raised.....and our hope is that they are not yet finished because as we all know, every child needs a brother or sister or two (or three) to grow up with! God has certainly blessed our family.

Connor is the first son of my namesake, Joseph M. Valenzano, Ph.D, a professor of communications at the University of Dayton in Ohio. At age 34, Dr. Valenzano is the author of two textbooks in the field of communications, something we are all proud of. But I can tell you that nothing....and I do mean nothing....was ever more important to Joe and his beautiful wife Lauren than the arrival of Connor. In a moment I shall never forget, my son, brought Connor over to us in the hospital in Ohio and said, "Mom, Dad can you believe Lauren and I did this? This is my son."

Yes he is. Connor, like all children, are gifts from God. They are, in fact, the only real treasures we have in life...greater than money, power, influence. The birth of a child is cause for celebration for all who respect and value life. All children come into this world free of hatred, bigotry, ignorance. All they seek is love and caring and in return give us joy that lasts a lifetime. This is not to say that there are not challenges and obstacles along the way. All families are faced with those. But if there is love, all challenges can be overcome. I know. I have been there

Nine months earlier, in November of 2013, my son Michael and his wife celebrated the arrival of their first son, Michael Joseph Valenzano, all nine pounds six ounces and 23 inches long of him. Young "MJ" as we call him is a happy baby and in fact seems to always have a smile on his face. He is trying to walk, picks himself up, falls down, laughs and gets up again...with a smile and laughter to go along with it. The dog runs over him in the living room and he giggles. I am no psychologist or psychiatrist, but I believe that this is a direct result of the love MJ gets at home.

Here are pictures of Connor Valenzano at two days old and young MJ celebrating his nine month birthday.

Children learn from their parents, their siblings and the environment around them. If that environment is filled with anxiety, depression, hatred and bloodshed, that is what they learn and that is what they live with. It is, in my humble opinion, at the core of the savagery and violence we see in the Middle East today. Hatred is passed down from parents to their children and they are taught that mindless killing and murder are somehow what Allah their God wants them to do. It is why Jews and Christians and the so-called "unbelievers" are persecuted and killed. Radical Islam does not want any discussion or challenge to their way of life because to introduce rational discussion and thought into their teachings would be to invite question, comparison and challenge. And that would be a fatal blow to their lack of moral underpinning.

I believe the analysis is no more complex than this.

But even as I write this blog, I am filled with frustration. I am frustrated and disappointed but I am not angry because I have learned a long time ago that anger is a wasted emotion that clouds judgment. I read an article in the September 1st, 2014 edition of the New York Post (Happy Labor Day) that talked about the rantings of one Richard Dawkins, one of today's "New Atheists" who advised a parent asking about the ethical dilemma of being pregnant with a child who had Down syndrome that she should "abort it and try again." In defending his recommendation on Twitter, Mr. Dawkins said, "If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down's baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child's welfare." Mr. Dawkins is not alone in his beliefs. Princeton University has a full professor on staff teaching philosophy (to students paying about $50,000 -$60,000 per year for the privilege of sitting in his course) named Peter Singer. He offers similar advice and, in fact, takes the position that "a life that involves deep suffering is not worth much, especially in cases of severe disability." Naturally, he doesn't take the time to discuss what "deep suffering is," nor does he explain if, in fact, such a life can have meaning.

Medical science and legions of parents with children who have Down syndrome, as well as families caring for children with other profound disabilities, would differ greatly with Mssrs. Dawkins and Singer. They would say that there is little about the lives of children with DS as well as other disorders which suggests they are any more of less miserable than the rest of us, including Dawkins and Singer. In fact, if Singer and Dawkins would come down from their ivory towers and actually become involved with children with Down syndrome, they would learn rather quickly that they are among the most caring and loving individuals God has ever put on this earth.

I suppose that if you subscribe to the teachings of Singer and Dawkins, one Jennifer Brinker Mocceanu would never have had a chance to be born. Jennifer, you see, was a little girl born without legs who was abandoned in a hospital at birth. She was adopted by a family in a small town of Illinois and, on the link below and watch and listen to her story. You decide if hers is a life worth living despite being born with a profound disability:

One of the greatest thinkers, writers and philosophers I have ever read is one Leo Rosten. I think these two quotations penned by him address rather well my opinion and feeling about the recommendations and opinions of Singer and Dawkins. I hope they have time to read them and I hope you do as well:

"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter; to count; to stand for something, to be of some useful purpose, to have made some difference that you have lived at all."
"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, 'Is is right.? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him that it is right.'"
Leo Rosten

God bless.

Joseph M. Valenzano, Jr.
President, CEO & Publisher ep Magazine (EP World, Inc.)

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