It comes back to me at the most unexpected moments, as it did a couple of days ago, but always as an uncomfortable recollection from a brief, regretted moment in a college classroom long past.
“It” is the memory of something I said as a sophomore or junior at Oklahoma State University in 1970 or 1971 (yes, I am that old!). Odd how certain scenes in your life stay with you, isn’t it? I have since come to believe that such memories are not coincidental.
Anyway, it was during an Economics 101 course and somehow the class discussion had turned to the issue of abortion. A couple of my fellow students were making the case that life begins at conception and is sacred, therefore abortion is wrong.
It’s what I said in response to them that haunts me to this day: “But it’s just a glob of cells.” So, it was understood, it’s ok to “kill” it because it’s not yet a baby, a living human being. That phrase, “a glob of cells,” has stuck with me, not unlike those “damned spots” that plagued Lady MacBeth.
I was surprised by what I said then and have been perplexed by it ever since because at the time I had never previously thought seriously about abortion except as one of those odd topics that some people talked about constantly.
The glob analogy reflected the conventional wisdom of the day as the country steadily moved toward the landmark Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973 that legalized abortion.
To this day, the memory is a painful and perplexing one. It was a thoughtless comment, the one time I can ever recall myself succumbing to the pressure of prevailing opinion.
So why do I share this memory with you today? Two reasons.
First, a few years later, in graduate school, I came across a passage from, I believe, Shelby Foote’s masterful three-volume “The Civil War” in which he was quoting somebody from the time who, having stumbled upon an old battlefield littered with the bones of the unburied dead, began meditating on the horror and the loss.
“It was a thoughtless comment, the one time I can ever recall myself succumbing to the pressure of prevailing opinion.”
The thoughtful observer looked upon a jawbone glistening in the sun and wondered what that young man might have done had he lived? Would he have discovered a cure for cancer? Become a statesman who earnestly sought peace? Maybe he “merely” would have fed a hungry homeless person?
But we would never know because in man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, the dead soldier’s lifetime of potential was taken from him, and us, by a bullet fired in anger and fear. That passage stuck with me, too. There have been so many wars since then.
But here’s the point I am getting at, a point that is especially relevant to every person who works on Capitol Hill for a senator, a representative or a congressional committee:
As much as we rightfully mourn those lost in war and wonder what their lives might have become, we ought also ask ourselves and our nation as a whole, what about those more than 50 million unborn babies we’ve killed since 1973?
That’s an even more important question we should all be asking in this Black Lives Matter era, since many, if not most, of those aborted babies were Black. The others were Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian, Native Americans. They were all us.
What have we lost because we killed 50 million defenseless, voice-less, entirely innocent, unborn babies? It’s not just the good works they would have done that we’ve lost. We’ve become like the desperate men-turned-butchers on a battlefield. At least they could claim it was kill, or be killed. In the vast majority of cases, we did it for our convenience.
“What have we lost because we killed 50 million defenseless, voice-less, entirely innocent, unborn babies?”
Second, so many of our cities are in flames. Our nation is torn apart, bitterly divided, perpetually distracted, doubting itself. Apocalyptic fears for America’s future are heard with ever-increasing frequency.
Consider this passage from the Old Testament in which the Lord warned Israel to never be like the pagans around them who worshipped the Molech pantheon of idols crafted of silver and gold and blood:
“You shall not worship the Lord Your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” — Deuteronomy 12:31.
In the 47 years since Roe v Wade, we’ve killed vastly more unborn babies than all the losses we’ve suffered in all of America’s wars since 1776.
Today, it’s sadly true that liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, disagree on so much. But surely, in our heart of hearts, the one thing we should agree on is that all lives matter, born and unborn, and there will never be true justice as long as even one innocent child is slaughtered while still in its mother’s womb or a few minutes after being delivered into our world.
It’s not too late for us to change.