I count among my friends a certain woman and her husband. The husband is…notorious. I’m not naming names, not because I fear what others may think about me because of him, but because I have witnessed otherwise rational people become quite rabid at the mention of his name (in blogs, in comboxes). It is unfortunate, because a lot of what he has to say is worth hearing.
My thoughts today are not wholly original. It is my friend, the wife, who used the following scenario to explain her and her husband’s motives for certain controversial actions.
Suppose, one day, a woman is raped on a street corner not far from your home. Most of us would be upset – it is a horrible crime. Perhaps we would be concerned for our own safety or that of our friends, daughters, neighbors. We would want to know what the police were doing about it.
Suppose another woman is raped…and another…in the exact same spot. We would probably get angry at the situation. We might organize a neighborhood watch to protect women in the area. We might storm the town council and demand 24 hour protection for the area.
Suppose we found out that the town, or the state, had decided that raping women on that particular street corner was legal. We would probably be outraged that such a despicable crime were permitted under any conditions anywhere. Some of us might fight to abolish that law. Some of us might stand vigil on that street to warn women. Some who stand vigil might see women being dragged there by men who want to rape them and know they can legally do it only on that corner. Some standing vigil might be roused to violence in defense of the woman about to be victimized.
Suppose, despite all these efforts, the act remained legal on that corner and in other parts of the country. Suppose after a decade, hundreds or thousands of women were being raped every day, legally. How would we, as a society, cope with that?
Would the outrage remain? Would we get tired of trying to protect women? Would we stop the daily vigil and only show up on days that weren’t quite as hectic (no soccer practice today, guess I have time to go rage against the violence)?
Would we have less horror of the act of rape? After a decade of being told that rape was OK, under certain circumstances, would youth brought up in that environment think rape is a big deal at all? Would we begin to justify it, perhaps thinking that the women deserved it?
How about after two or three decades? Wouldn’t we have to begin to believe that women were less deserving of certain rights? How, after all, can you legally permit unspeakable horrors against other human beings?
Think of the Holocaust. Dauchau, the first concentration camp, opened in 1933. The nightmare that occurred in the “civilized” West lasted for just over a decade. It was only possible by dehumanizing those of Jewish descent, by fearful dominance of the populace, and by citizens who claimed ignorance of the situation.
Slavery. It’s been with us forever, and is even still in this country, hidden. One person given the right to decide the fate of another. But it was ok, legally, because the slave wasn’t a full citizen (full human).
Now, in places in Europe, doctors have the authority to decide if an older person or a sick person or a handicapped infant has the right to live. This is not a lengthy ordeal with due process. Today, the doctor decides and executes.
Time and again, we give legal authority to one class of people over another class of people. Time and again, we make indefinite exceptions to the concept that each person has the right to life, liberty and property without due process. It is one thing to deprive a convicted criminal of his liberty. Quite another to deprive one unlucky enough to be kidnapped from a foreign country.
When we will learn? And when will we act? If we do not defend the freedoms of others, there may be nobody left to defend us when we become the target.
Today is the March for Life in Washington, D.C. My friend, the husband, is actively pro-life. There are many in the pro-life movement who revile him. His ways do not meet with everyone’s approval. For one, he believes that images are vital to the cause, that people need to see the horrific reality of abortion. He has done other things and been called a self-serving showboat. That’s not the person I know. His ways are not my ways, but that doesn’t mean his fight isn’t valid. There isn’t one way to fight this evil. We all have to do our part.
Recently I read a criticism of him that suggested he should just go home and pray the rosary. I believe in the power of prayer, wholly believe in it. But I believe in going to the doctor when I’m sick and taking up arms against a hostile enemy. Praying does not make my kitchen floor any cleaner. St. Benedict said: Ora et labora. Pray and work.
My friend, the wife, concluded by saying that we each, in the end, have to account to God for our actions. When there was an atrocity in our midst, He will ask, what did we do about it? They have been granted the ability to spend more time than most in working against abortion. We each have our own job to do. Perhaps, for some of us, praying is all we can do.
38 years of abortion. Over 50 million dead. No end in sight.
When are you going to be outraged? What are you doing about it?