There's nothing like a good social media meltdown, is there? The issue du jour comes down the pipeline and the folks choose a side. Some gather their facts like bullets to a munitions dump. Lock and load. Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes. Ready! Aim! Others enjoy the view from the cheap seats, watch as that-guy-I-could-have-sworn-was-conservative comes out of the closet as a liberal so-and-so, or as Suzie-liberal defends the historically orthodox position of such-and-such. Social media churns and churns, issue after issue, and the good folks at Facebook laugh all the way to the bank as we splash our opinions across their pages. Chop, chop; line, line; snort, snort. We're addicted to these sorts of online debates.
The latest debate--the by-golly debate upon which all of the prophets and saints hang--is some Moreauian amalgam involving Planned Parenthood and Cecil The Lion. The sides look something like this:
Side 1--Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts from abortion-on-demand clinics, and yet folks care more about a stupid Lion killed on another continent.
Side 2--Planned Parenthood provides a viable service, which include abortion education, and animals shouldn't be murdered by midwestern capitalists armed with a gun and a because-I-can attitude.
What one has to do with the other I'll never know, and yet I've seen too many Planned Parenthood and Cecil the Lion mashup social media posts. (Oh, for the days when opinions were reserved for a section of the paper called, simply, Opinions!) [tweetherder]Lions, and babies, and social media, oh my! Let the babies live and the lions die![/tweetherder]
Don't get the wrong impression. I have firm opinions about life, the meaning of it, where it begins, and how it should end. I could spin those opinions for you here, back them up with facts, or at least anecdotal hypotheticals. I could come out swinging, but I choose to refuse. Why?
The people, yes. The people.
Allow me this anecdote.
I married a beautiful woman from Alabama. Amber was a do-right girl until adolescence, when she grew out of sundresses and do-rightness. She made a few life choices that culminated in her lying on a doctor's table in a Little Rock clinic where she terminated her first pregnancy at the age of 18. (The account is detailed here.)
We've been married over 15 years, and I've watched Amber as she's dealt with the pain of that decision. She's carried guilt and shame from it, but over time, she's learned to overcome both. I think that's what they call grace. Grace notwithstanding, whenever folks spin up the anti-abortion machine, when they rant and rail about life, life, life I wonder how Amber feels. I wonder if the old haunting shame comes wooing. I wonder if she bears under the weight of the judgment machine.
Sure, folks mean well with their pro-life and pro-choice sentiments. But when these sentiments are filled with rhetorical vitriol and splayed across the internet, when they swing the sledge hammers of how-could-you or how-could-you-not, I wonder how the women who've had abortions feel.
There are humans behind our debates see. Are we human enough to see? Let me write it again so as to leave no doubt--there are humans behind our tiny debates, see.
I wrote this on Facebook last week, but I'm writing it again. It's a reiteration, a redundant array. I'm writing it again less for you and more for me. Or perhaps I'm writing it more for you, and me, and some of them. I'm writing it because I believe that a pro-life ethic is not so simple as choosing to protect unborn babies. It's an ethic more encompassing than the myopia of our own politics.
Today I'm choosing to live pro-life, and by that, I do not mean I'm choosing to live a political ideology that bleeds itself out over Facebook, or Twitter, or in the local coffee shop. Instead, I'm choosing life wherever I find it.
At the Little Bread Company, across the table from a friend who's bearing the weight of the world like Atlas and needs only a spare set of shoulders for an hour;
While I spin the Coltrane classic "A Love Supreme," and drink dark coffee over a desk-load of work, over phone calls to heavy laden clients;
When I consider the unborn, babies whose mothers are torn between motherhood or not, when I pray for them;
When I consider the mothers who carry guilt like designer handbags stitched with names unborn to them, unborn by choice, or circumstance, or poverty, or convenience, or shame, or whatever;
When I consider the mothers, the babies, the babies, the mothers;
Over the lunch hour "Our Fathers" for the men imprisoned for trying to keep bread on the table, or for the murderers whose lights will go out when the chair is lit up;
At tonight's birthday party, the celebration of the certain and North-Star-constant wife of my youth, the one who gave me four carbon copies of myself;
While I watch debates over lions and babies devolve into amoebic arguments, our infintesimal hatreds of each other, how we call names because it's easier than self- examination.
Pro-life: this means more than good people think, means more than left or right. It means being: human, prayerful, present, alive.
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