Yesterday, 41 souls braved the cold to show peaceful and prayerful solidarity with the pre-born at Cheyenne’s Life Chain event. Some motorists showed disapproval by giving a “thumbs down” as they passed by. Occasionally, motorists flew another digit in the opposite direction in order to express themselves.
Many expressed their approval by honking, waving and giving the group a “thumbs up.”
The vast majority of people, however, glanced over and then looked away as they went about their day.
The experience is always a reminder of the deep divide in our country over the issue of abortion. It’s also an indication of the wounds that exist in our town. It makes me sad.
I know that our witness makes some women and men who have been directly involved with an abortion feel like they are being judged. No doubt, they have probably heard abortion debated by some Christians in uncharitable ways. There is no excuse for this on our part. We believe in a God of mercy. I am truly sorry for anyone who has ever had shame used against them as a weapon. Our experiences shape us, but no one is defined by the past. The image of our crucified Lord is a reminder of how far God is willing to go for each one of us. He loves us immensely and no one-moment in time can ever diminish us in his eyes. We all need to remember that.
God also knows the context from which such decisions are made; in many cases, young mothers without any support, abandoned or pressured by their partners, abandoned or pressured by their families and faith communities; they have even been abandoned by their own government. Too often this “choice” is made, because it feels like there is no other choice. Also part of the context is an ideology which denies science and is increasingly moving away from abortion being “safe and rare,” to saying that abortion should be celebrated.
When we look to the past, it is for the purpose of healing and learning.
Forty-five years of legalized abortion has had a significant impact on our country. Mother Teresa once said of this legacy, “It is the greatest destroyer of peace.” Over the years, I have thought much about that statement.
From my own experience, I hear regularly from people who are lacking peace because of fear. The Church calls Christians to enter into dialogue with all people of good will. This is the way forward, but dialogue is not easy. It is hard to open up and share what is on your heart and mind with another. It requires trust. People need to know that no matter how different their opinions may be, their own dignity as a member of the human family will always be valued. But, how do you develop that kind of trust with someone who rationalizes the willful destruction of a helpless person? Or with people who, within the context of a society which rationalizes such destruction, will simply look away and go on about their day? Is there any wonder why people are afraid and unwilling to dialogue? Can peace ever be hoped for in such a society? Is the possession and retention of power the only hope one has for being respected? How can we inspire recognition of the dignity of other vulnerable populations if we accept the legal devaluation of one population? These are critical questions for an aging population.
I still have hope that one day soon the human family will get past this civil war. It will happen when we learn to value the dignity of every person from conception to natural death (even the dignity of our political adversaries.) It will happen when we stop playing the zero sum game pitting mothers against their children and children against their mothers. It will happen when we learn to love them both.
To those who were able to join us yesterday, thank you!