Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A door opened, a foundation crumbling?

As Barack Obama has been elected President of these United States, I can't help but feel that one door that has been shut long past it's time has finally opened.  How good it must feel for young African Americans to be able to look at their television set and see the proof that, yes, they can go anywhere they want in this country, even right to the top.  

For years, their human dignity was stripped of them as they were bought and sold like cattle.  The basic rights that are born of that dignity were denied them, not because they were not in truth human beings, but because they were not percieved as human beings or fully human.  How could this be?  How could the mere color of one's skin lead any rational person to believe that blacks were not human?  

I believe there are many reasons for this, the first being that the culture supported their way of thinking.  When people get used to an idea and it gets supported by culture they live in, it can be hard to let go of this idea no matter how wrong it is.  Others had their whole livelihood based on slavery, and its abolition would have drastic effects on the greater economy as well as their personal economic well-being.  

Perhaps a more intrinsic and deeply personal reason allowed slavery to be morally defensible in the minds of men: guilt.  Imagine that you had grown up on a plantation in the South, and all you had ever known was this life.  Your entire family worked this plantation for generations, and maybe they even treated their slaves well, relatively speaking.  If an abolitionist stepped on your front porch one day and told you that all your life was built on the great of evil of the time, you would be infuriated.  After all, this is everything you know and love.  Your wonderful parents and grandparents, your brothers and sisters, all of them are good people; they even treat their slaves well.  Clearly, you would think, this abolitionist is making too much of the 'evil' of slavery.  After all, it may not be a perfect system, but how else are we to maintain the plantation?

You would have an emotional reaction, instead of an intellectual reaction.  As soon as the intellect is even slightly engaged in the abolitionist's arguments, emotions can take over to shield us from the guilt that we would feel about ourselves and our family and all that we stood for.  We don't even like to be wrong about very little things, much less grave moral issues.

And so, it took years, and finally a horrific war that pit brother against brother, to revoke abolish the legal right to keep slaves.  After the legal right was removed, it took another 100 years and a man named Martin Luther King, Jr., to help the black community receive the full rights that their dignity allowed them.  After this, it took nearly a half a century to elect the first black president.  It has been a long, hard, even bloody road.  So, we should all rejoice that one door that has long been kept shut, full recognition of the dignity of the black person, has been opened publicly to its widest extent with election of Barack Obama.

And yet, I worry about the foundation that this door rests upon.  While this election was a serious blow to the lingering problem of racism in our country, it may prove to be a rallying cry for the foundational evil that racism is born of: the arbitrary assignment of dignity and rights to human life.  Racism and abortion are just fruits of this same tree.  How can we celebrate the recognition of human rights for one group of people, and deny another group of people those very same rights and more, their foundational right to life?  Dr. Alveda King, neice of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., has a very personal and powerful witness to these twinned issues, she suffered the effects of both racism and abortion.  

Science has supported what faith and right reasoning have long taught, that children in the womb are exactly that: children.  Three dimensional ultrasounds, a deeper understanding of fetal development and fetal surgery, and the understanding that each child in womb has its own unique set of DNA from conception have made the issue of when life begins very clear; it begins at conception.  It is not that the zygote, the embryo, or the fetus is not in truth a human being, rather it is that they are not perceived as human beings or fully human.

Unfortunately, there are those out there who have put much of their lives into the "pro-choice" cause, and I suspect they reject the truth of the pro-life movement for many of the same reasons mentioned above regarding the plantation owners rejecting the truth of the abolitionist movement.  Their culture supports abortion, their livelihoods depend on abortion, and to admit the evil of abortion means that they must face feelings of guilt that they are not prepared to deal with.  

Hopefully, the road to the widespread recognition of the dignity of human life from conception to natural death will not be as long as the road we have travelled to get a black man elected to the highest office in the land.  Unfortunately, it has already surpassed it in bloodshed.  I do take comfort in the fact that though there were many ups and downs and periods of intense frustration for the abolitionists, truth did win out the day.  

And so, around the country a forceful blow to the evil of racism is celebrated, and a blow to the dignity of all races in the womb may be coming.  Oddly enough, this blow is overwhelming directed towards the black community in America.  My sister has a interesting perspective on this as she has adopted two black children.  Check it out here, and be sure to check out the links at the bottom.

A door is opened, but the foundation is under attack.  We must speak out.  I am not talking only about large, nationally organized activists groups.  I am talking about sharing the truth with your neighbor, or in the grocery store, or at church.  Until we get to the level where the common man speaks out with conviction, we will get no where.  Fortunately, the truth is on our side, and most Americans do not have the problems that those who work in the abortion industry do when faced with this truth.  It is our job to see that if we respect civil rights in this country, we must respect them for everyone, otherwise they are not rights at all, but privileges granted and revoked at will by those in power. 


Kathryn said...

Yea! A post! Now I just need to find the time to read it... :)

Paul said...

Get a comfortable chair and some caffeine to keep you awake.

Kathryn said...

Alright that is a really good post. I think you bring up a good parallel between the collective guilt of slavery and abortion and its power to stifle true debate or change.
Also, I like how charitable you are about it all. I think we in the pro-life movement can come off too judgemental to the people who are burdened with being post abortive. We have to remember when discussing these things that much of our audience is post abortive, and there are at least two victims for every one abortion.
It is ironic how we, as nation, are rejoicing in such a huge step forward in the battle against racism, while that exact step perpetuates the idea that unborn are subhuman and have no rights...

Paul said...

I agree Kathryn, no one is perfect, whether they are pro-life or pro-choice. If we are going to change minds, we have change hearts, and we can't do that if we are too busy damning people (especially since we all have sins to answer for).