Thursday, February 11, 2010


An interesting tidbit was in the paper yesterday. An anthropologist named Colin Turnbull took his African guide for a plane ride. Looking out the window he wanted to know what the insects he saw on the ground were. When told that they were buffalo he erupted in laughter. He didn’t know about visual perspective and thus that objects seem to shrink in the distance. Coming closer to the objects he became frightened as the appeared to grow.

Myers had a very perceptive comment to make about this. He said, “We perceive the world not just as it is, but as we are.” How we interpret our world has a lot to do with how understand it.

This gives us a hint as to the weak link in the pro-life movement. It sounds so obvious doesn’t it? Who wants to be anti-life? Who wants to destroy their children? Who would want to make it not only possible but a legally protected right that people can take the life of the children with more legal clemency than taking the life of the pet dog?


I mean nobody.

Not one sane person.

And that includes most of the most dedicated self proclaimed pro-choice people.

Like the Pygmy in the plane that refused to believe that the insects he saw were actually buffalo, “pro-choice” persons do not see realities that pro-life people see. They do not see a baby, they see a clump of cells that could become a baby. They do not see the damage to the dignity and bodily integrity of women but that they are free of undesirable results. They see independence from men and not that men have been relinquished of responsibility. They see the event only affecting them; not the father, other children, grandparents, etc. They do not see freedom, they see the freeing of unnecessary societal restraints. They do not see that having the option out promotes the need for even more abortions, but see it as a safeguard against oppression. They do not see the richness of life but the escape from poverty.

So, suppose for a moment that you are pro-choice and you see the world as they do. You believe that you are fighting for the good. Being called a murderer, a hater of women, a sinner, being vilified is not something that is going to turn your heart. If anything it is evidence of exactly the thing you are trying to escape and will entrench you more deeply in your position. (Once again, is the alternative really becoming someone who calls persons like me a baby hater?)

The task then at the same time becomes easier and more monumental. It is easier because now we know more about what it is we are dealing with and can address that. It becomes more monumental because this job will be much more difficult.

One woman who used to work for NOW said one of the best things we can do is educate, educate, educate about life – scientific facts. And of course pray. Pray like gangbusters. Be compassionate and welcoming. How this exactly plays out each of us must discover. But if we want true and lasting change this is the only way. Having abortion only outlawed without conversion of hearts means much less and will always be in danger of being overturned. This is a war of hearts.


Pat said...

"Pray like gangbusters. Be compassionate and welcoming."

By her own testimony, this method is what caused the Planned Parenthood director in Texas to leave her job and become prolife. She was prayed for and shown love by the 40 Days for Life participants standing outside her facility. Same thing worked for Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. "Jane Roe"). An evangelical prolife leader reached out to her and was instrumental in her conversion.

Anonymous said...

BINGO!!!actually for both sides the rhetoric is often nasty and hateful---i know no one who is pro-life wants to KILL babies--in a cold heartless abortion MILL--and yet this is representative of the rhetoric i heard afew years ago at a First Friday lecture--i went to hear this EXPERT hoping to be CHANGED---sadly these hatefull words dashed any chance of my redemption--you are so right about perspective---yes i see the possibility of many lives being affected--and i always conclude "which Life are we talking about? in deep trouble on this issue,n.

Pat said...

Would it be helpful to consider what Fr. Frank Pavone asks, "Why can't we love them both?" In other words, do we have to pit the survival of the mother against the survival of the baby? Can't we resolve the problems for the mother in a way that enables her baby to live as well? Mothers nowadays have many more options than they used to have.

Anonymous said...

pat--i couldn't agree more--and i could very comfortably be a part of this---but working to legislate morality is tough for me to embrace--n.

frival said...

Thank you Father. I think we do often get myopic when it comes to issues that raise our passions. I see it happen all the time in catechesis, and pro-life work certainly is no less so.

And just a brief thought for Anon - all legislation is a pronouncement of morality. It may cover itself in a cloak of impartiality but in the end it reduces to a finding that some moral holding is worth defending with the power of the state. I have yet to find a law which cannot be attributed to a moral position at its very base.

Fr. V said...

Frival -

Good last point! We forget things like that from time to time! I will remember that.

frival said...

Comically, it seemed so obvious to me I was surprised to find others didn't see it that way. We've come full circle on this post. ;)

Anonymous said...

dear anon.--i'm sure you are correct--i guess what i really want is a movement that is all about providing solution and havens for persons, couples, and families faced with this decision--n.