Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I used to sit on this fence.

It was difficult to climb, and certainly gave me my fair share of splinters. At the time, just sitting there was my goal, splinters and all. Sitting on the top, right there in the middle, was so much easier than climbing to one side or the much easier than seeking a new vantage point; easier than coming to grips...uniting myself with the radical "crazies," dividing myself from the masses- taking a stand...on the ground.
In my sophomore year college public speaking class I was asked to give a persuasive speech on an  issue affecting the public today. Some people chose which airline we should fly as a consuming public (JetBlue, she said, as they have leather seats...convincing), others chose the best types of music, whether health care should be reformed and socialized, and the lowering of the legal drinking age (Go Buffs?). I chose partial-birth abortion. Ha!

Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe public speaking. Ironic, as I do it for a living...but 10 year olds versus peers equate to such different monsters in my head. Seriously, I hate speaking in public...I always clam up, turn so red, and fumble, over not just one or two words, but usually every other word... on a good day.

So, there I stood, in a classroom full of people I didn't know, prepared to give a speech about a topic that could cause some serious ripples...knowing that I was choosing, CHOOSING to make myself the quivering voice on an issue that I still wasn't completely sure about. I, uh uh uh mmmee, could make or break their thoughts, their perspectives on this issue. Right before my turn arrived, I sat clutching my visual of the growth process of a child in utero thinking, "I could have chosen leather airline seats? Seriously?"

I suppose now is the time in the story where I say: "And I got up to the stand, and I began my speech, and it flowed, like music, and the class sat, jaws dropped, listening- hanging on every word. It was pure magic." But as I said, I hate public speaking, and I learned very quickly that the feeling was mutual. My speech sucked. Like b-b-b-b-bad. I know- they videoed it and consensus, I sucked.

So why? Why did I choose to give a speech on a topic that I was unsure of, in a forum that triggered fear and freak-outs? I still don't know...but I will tell you that nothing happens without a reason.

Up until that time I considered myself pro-? I knew that abortion was not a choice that I could ever make, but far be it for me to take that away from someone else. Abortion was a service that people needed, it was in the best interest of society. It was about women, their health, their bodies...

The incredibly inspiring German philosopher, Edith Stein, once said: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie. In reflecting upon that quote and the life of Edith Stein, the late John Paul II noted, "The modern world boasts of the enticing door which says: everything is permitted. It ignores the narrow gate of discernment and renunciation... Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface, but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide!...In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority."

Abortion is legal and choice is the opinion of the majority... therefore, it must be truth. Right? I mean the act of abortion is an act of love...or is it an act of truth...

I was recently reading an article that was discussing the history of human rights in our country. Beginning with Native American discrimination, and working its way through African American injustice, suffrage, etc. The basis being that these groups were marginalized within society. Society as a whole held a perspective on these groups as being less than, unable, not worthy. In each of these cases throughout our tainted history, these groups rose and showed that they have an innate call to live as equal and free members of our society- that they have a voice and it deserves to be heard. And it was good, and just, and beautiful. 

But there will always be an underdog. Always. There will always be the kid who is picked last for dodge ball...however, as a society, we have finally achieved the unthinkable. We have finally chosen the kid last for the dodge ball game who cannot even play. We have finally marginalized a vital part of our society who have no way of advocating for themselves. No picket signs to march with, let alone voices to call out to the masses, "Hey, what about us?" We have finally marginalized a population who will never be able to rise up and save themselves...we reign victorious.

I am amazed, as I watch the students interact with one another in my classroom. The student(s) who are always picked last are always chalked up to something else. "Eh, well he is not really an athlete" "Miss, he is always fumbling around...we want to win." When I ask how they think it feels to be picked last, the response I usually gets is: he knows he's bad; he doesn't really care; he won't help the team and he knows that. Is it true? How would you feel, I ask. 

The truth is, we have chalked up 50 million lives, 40% of current new life, to nothing more than cells.. how has it come to this? I am fascinated. 

Now, I am not going to spout the usual pro-life arguments (You were just a ball of cells once too, etc). That is not my goal...but I would like to challenge thought. Just think...

What if, just what if, that ball of cells is actually more? What if, as probes were inserted to dispose of these cells, they had a chance to say just one thing? 

...What if the opinion of the masses is wrong?

I am well-aware of the problems that occur with the increasing pregnancy rates, the exponential raise in poverty, the health concerns connected to back-alley procedures...well aware. I do not have all the answers. I understand the arguments about the tragic cases of rape and incest- I get it, in more personal ways than I would have ever imagined. This world has some serious issues. And I don't know how to solve all these problems...but what I do know, what I would say now to my 22 fellow sophomores, is that 50 million united voices would take an awful lot to silence. And we have. 

***Please know that in this post, for those of you who have had, or know someone who has had an abortion, my intent is in no way to judge or hurt.  The agony that must have accompanied that decision I am sure was beyond measurable and the intentions behind it, well-meaning. While that choice cannot be reversed, what can change is our perspective, opinion, and heart...with love and prayer.

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