Cute, precocious (now) pre-teen boy beloved of Oprah Winfrey. Victim of a rare form of muscular dystrophy that claimed three of his siblings and now keeps him in a wheelchair with a respirator. Writer of Heartsongs, Hope through Heartsongs, and Journey through Heartsongs, books of poetry where he talks about being sick, peace, love, and other uplifting topics. National Good Will Ambassador.

Athem. On one hand, he's a pretty bright kid, and I actually enjoy listening to some of the things he says. On the other hand, I can't help but cringing at the side-show atmosphere surrounding him: taken outside of context, his words aren't all that different from the kind of thing adoring moms tape to the fridge. While much is made of him as a diplomat, he doesn't seem to have any real insight into international politics, and no, I'm not being unrealistic here. He's eleven, not six, and a genius: surely if Cordwainer Smith could negotiate financing of the Kuomintang at seventeen, Matthew ought to be able to say something better about the Afghani situation than "people have different heartsongs, but that's OK, too". If he's being prompted to say this, as opposed to more complex ideas on the subject, I'm afraid he's being kept back by his fame, not helped. I wonder what kind of mother would keep on having children after the first couple died, and what will become of him once he leaves off the "Aww..." stage and has to deal with simply being a handicapped adult, with no publicity, less income, and no prayer circle on his behalf. And it's even more of a shame, because he's such a likable young man.

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