Woke mobs’ latest attempt at cancellation came last week, when a seemingly innocent Instagram post by “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Chris Pratt prompted outrage on Twitter. In the post, Pratt celebrated his current wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, and the “healthy, gorgeous daughter” they had together.
In response to that post, readers remembered that Pratt’s first child, Jack, whom he fathered with his first wife, Anna Faris, arrived nine weeks prematurely, requiring several surgeries and leaving Jack with visual impairments and ongoing heart trouble. Given these circumstances, many viewed the reference to a “healthy, gorgeous daughter” as a slight towards both Pratt’s first son and his first spouse. Cue the manufactured and self-righteous outrage.
But celebrating the health of one child doesn’t represent a slight on another, any more than celebrating one child’s achievements in one area—for instance, an artistically gifted child—diminishes the talents of another with skills more suited to the classroom or sports field. Rather than spewing bile, hatred, and online shade, the people dragging Pratt on Twitter need some of the Christian grace that Pratt says he received with his “unhealthy” son Jack.
Mother of a Special-Needs Child
I used to get heartbroken when parents made a point to declare their newborn child “healthy.” It hurt because, by medical standards, my youngest daughter qualifies as “unhealthy.”
My daughter was born with meconium ileus, which meant that—like Pratt’s son, Jack—she needed several surgeries as a newborn, and spent significant time in the NICU. While she thankfully recovered from those ailments, she still suffers from cystic fibrosis. That disease means she frequently contracts infections, often requires breathing treatments and regular check-ups, and could ultimately shorten her life span.
I will admit that, soon after the birth of my daughter, comments from other parents about their “healthy” children made me wince. Although I understood the emotions other parents experienced, I always felt as though my daughter should be celebrated equally. Then I realized that she is.
While individuals don’t want to wish medical complications on anyone, a celebration of their child’s health doesn’t diminish the value of my daughter’s life. Regardless of our circumstances, we should all celebrate when a precious child does not face the pain and complications plaguing children like my daughter. That attitude reflects simple human compassion for the child, not to mention the mother and father.
Grace Through Adversity
Pratt has indeed shown compassion for his son over the years. In an interview conducted in 2016, Pratt gushed over Jack, calling him “an extraordinarily intelligent [three]-year-old”—not the kind of language someone embarrassed by his child would use. He continued: “He’s a smart and wildly cute, fun, and awesome kid….There’s nothing like it. I recommend anyone watching this who doesn’t have children—go have one.”
His compassion stemmed in part from a deep and abiding faith. In 2014, Pratt told People magazine that he and his then-wife Faris “prayed a lot” in the weeks after Jack’s birth, when their infant son lay in a NICU struggling for his life: “It restored my faith in God, not that it needed to be restored, but it really redefined it….The baby was so beautiful to us, and I look back at the photos of him and it must have been jarring for other people to come in and see him, but to us he was so beautiful and perfect.”
I don’t know Pratt personally, so can’t know his heart. But just because he celebrates the life of one of his children doesn’t mean that he loves his son with health complications any less. I know that in my case, if I could trade places with my daughter and take on her diagnosis, I would. I’d like to imagine that most parents, including Pratt, would do the same.
Instead of arriving at the snap judgments and hasty conclusions that our culture—obsessed with social media and “hot takes”—demands, we would do well to channel the Christian grace Pratt sought to channel during his son’s illness. As the mother of an “unhealthy” daughter, I would suggest that we follow Christ’s advice and judge not, that we be not judged. Let compassion, not contempt, be the order of the day.