The editorial by the Foundation’s president, Jean-Marie Le Méné.
Celebrating twenty years of scientific and ethical challenge since Pr; Jérôme Lejeune died is more delicate than it seems. One can be tempted to compare the source stayed pure to the water become cloudy, stop at the golden age known by only few of its contemporaries and throw a look full of disillusion on time that flies.
There is always a risk of exposing oneself to a cult of personality and chronic inefficiency. Laudator temporis acti…Worshiping past times! Such an attitude would be easy but unworthy of the man whose work the Foundation carries on.
What characterizes the fidelity to Jérôme Lejeune, is not receiving the world’s sleeping acquiescence, but rather to cause its awakening. Pedagogy being an art of repetition, one will be reminded that Jérôme Lejeune’s notoriety was earned thanks to the services he brought to science as well as conscience. It is because his personality was so perfectly unified in deed and thought that it is so hard to imitate. An Example will help to understand. King Baudouin from Belgium refused to sign the law on abortion after the people close to him, including religious people, managed to dissuade him with serious political arguments. Baudouin overruled the law, considering that the first duty of a king is to defend his subjects. Lejeune, leaving aside the objurgations did the same: the first duty of a doctor is to not kill his patients. This is how history remembered his name! Persevering in not following the ideas of the dominant culture has very concrete effects.
Had we not stood firm, then the Jérôme Lejeune Institute would not exist. What is the point of creating medical consultations when, soon, there will no longer be any patients with Down Syndrome to treat? Had we not stood firm, then scientific research on Down Syndrome would have been disinherited. What is the good of trying to cure people when it is judged more efficient to prevent them from being born? However, the Institute’s consultation service is always full and for the first time scientific obstinacy is contributing to clinical research for the direct benefit of the patients. That is, without counting the more fundamental but promising leads, such as those using non embryonic stem cells that, the Foundation has made known in France. Of this, with all the donators and friends of Jérôme Lejeune, we may be proud. Not only did we remain loyal to his memory but we have done what he would have done.
There are yet other things we may be proud of together: we have ensured there will be people taking over when we are gone. What we have been doing, others will carry on doing with the same renewed enthusiasm. As a testimony, a dream has come from abroad in the person of Keenan Kampa, the 24 year old ballet dancer. keenan Kampa, first American to join the Mariisnki theatre’s ballet company in St Petersburg, is young, pretty and modern. She has become the ambassador for the Foundation on its anniversary. In dance, as in the defence of life, difficulty is not an obstacle it is a path. Keenan Kampa is beautiful in the same way Jérôme Lejeune was when he was defending life. Realising, as did Plato, that beauty is the truth shining, a young girl with Down Syndrome once said to him:” You were beautiful when you defended me”.
1. Expression of Eugenio Corti, author of Le Cheval rouge, who died on 4th February 2014.
- The editorial from the president of the Foundation, Jean-Marie Le Méné: “You were beautiful when you defended me”
- The ambassador for the 20 year olds: Interview with Keenan Kampa