Sometimes a particular constituency event sparks ideas on a wider canvass, or inspires me to think in new ways or new areas. One such was Friday’s ultra-moving and inspiring first viewing of two films about the life and achievements of Stanton St Quintin 11-year-old, Jonathan Bryan. Jonathan has Cerebral Palsy, and were it not for his huge personality and character and the love and fantastic support of his parents, we would never have discovered that despite his inability to speak or write, he has a fantastic brain, huge literary ability and a playful sense of humour.
His CBBC Film, MY Life, and a sister film Teach Us Too were premiered in Stanton Primary School. Jonathan uses a method of writing and speaking using eye movements on a special board, something very unusual for a child. The prose, poetry and general fun which emerged, and his resulting campaign to find a voice for others trapped inside a speechless body was truly inspirational. Quite leaving aside his disabilities, the level of thought and philosophy, and the Christianity which he shows is way beyond the natural capacity of any eleven year old.
Political and Parliamentary life can wax and wane. This week it’s a debate about public sector pay. My own view is that we should probably accept the recommendations of the 8 pay review bodies even if that exceeds the 1% cap, but that we must not as a result allow the flood gates to open in general public-sector spending. That would be irresponsible profligacy. Austerity has meant record employment, and a decent standard of living for most people. We must not wreck it by huge public borrowing or irresponsible tax rises to fund politically expedient spending growth. Brexit and all it brings are ever present in our public life; views of the Election and where it all went wrong, the DUP deal, the personality of our leader and contenders for her job; Labour’s woes of every kind. These are the very stuff of politics and public debate.
But sometimes we need to rise above the political hubbub and whirligig; and we can do so by seeking inspiration in little things, somehow or another almost unconnected to public life. Such an inspiration comes from young Jonathan and his dedicated and committed parents. It’s not just his determination to rise above his disabilities; not only his campaigning to help others in the same position as himself, but perhaps without the help which he has been lucky enough to have; it’s something about his cheerful insouciance at his disability.
Jonathan’s life is determined not by the fact that he cannot live as the rest of us are lucky enough to live. His life is determined by his original thoughts about a wide variety of matters which he is now able, through the use of his eye movement and a persex board, to express to the world. I was also struck by how profound his belief is in Jesus Christ, and how he has not allowed his disability to lead him to rail against his belief, but rather to strengthen it.
Young Jonathan Bryan is an inspiration to us all.