Monday, April 23, 2012

Is it really so hypothetical?

The following comment on facebook made by a pro-choicer was meant to challenge pro-lifers on their belief that the abortion really is murder:
What if there was a building in your town where they chucked two year olds into a furnace. Would you be able to go about your day in a normal fashion if you knew that was taking place? Would you shake your head and say "We need to start some grassroots organization to lobby congress to put an end to that". Would you go a period of a few days where the fact that kids were being tossed into a furnace wasn't the most pressing thought in your head? Would you solemnly condemn someone who violently attacked that establishment or the people who work there in order to stop the constant, unapologetic murder of babies that took place there every day?
My response: is it really so hypothetical? People have to live with these kinds of contradictions every day, actually. It's not like people three hundred years ago people had no idea how bad the slave trade was. It's not like Americans in the nineteenth century didn't know how awful the Trail of Tears was. It's not like Germans under the Nazi regime really thought it was okay to lock up millions of Jews in concentration camps. These things really happened, not because people were so different from you or me. They happened because normal people like you and me aren't so wonderful as we think we are. It's remarkably easy to justify evil. You'll even hear words like "freedom" used to justify these atrocities: Hitler thought Germans should "liberate" themselves from the Jews, as I'm sure American Southerners wanted to free themselves from the presence of the Cherokee Nation.


The simple answer to the commenter's question is, sadly, yes. Yes, I can go about my day in a "normal" way, knowing that thousands and thousands of my fellow human beings are being killed at the hands of people who probably feel justified. Yes, I do think that for now the political process and grassroots movements are probably the best means I know of for doing anything about this problem in our society. Yes, I will condemn acts of terrorism done in the name of the pro-life movement, partly because I think it's wrong to fight fire with fire (I'm not even sure the Civil War was justified for all the blood that it spilled), and partly because I think it's futile to act in this manner. If a pro-choicer really wants to understand how pro-lifers don't go insane under the mental strain of knowing what injustice is committed in the name of "freedom," well, maybe the answer is that it kind of does drive us insane. Maybe if you think about it long enough, you'll start to understand why the rhetoric gets so heated.

It's worth saying that the issue of abortion really does cross my mind every single day. Let me add that other issues also tend to drive me crazy, and I suppose the list can get awfully depressing: America's foolish and arrogant interventionist policy in foreign affairs, the death toll of both American soldiers and innocent civilians in the Middle East, the ever-increasing powers of the executive branch of government, the ability of the executive branch to now assassinate a U.S. citizen without trial, the ability of rich elites to come under the protection of the government at the expense of everyone else, the oppressive restrictions on immigrants seeking refuge in a land of bountiful resources--I could go on and on. And these are just the things that our nation is responsible for. Good Lord, if I continually reflected on the horrors committed by the many corrupt governments and criminal enterprises around the world, I don't know how I could live a single day of my life.

So why don't I go absolutely crazy and devote every minute of my life to ending abortion? Sometimes I'm not really sure, except that it's harder than you might think to stand up for justice. We like to tell ourselves we "would" stand up for justice if things "got that bad," all the while not recognizing that things are that bad. Considering how long it took the human race to get rid of slavery, and knowing that even now it still takes place (if only illegally), what makes you think we are so powerful to change things? I don't relinquish all hope, I just want to put these questions about justice in context.

When it comes to activism, I think despair is more powerful than fear. Sure, I guess you could say I would fear for my life if I truly began to express my outrage at the state of affairs in this country. But I think more so, I am held back from action simply by the despair I feel at seeing how few people really agree with me that something ought to change. Thus, I continue to work at my career like a good citizen, hoping that it will make the world a slightly better place, and knowing that if I can just block out the world's evils I really will enjoy it. I continue to enjoy my friends and family, and I continue to thank God that mankind isn't as bad as it could possibly be. We've made it this far, after all.

To sum up: don't kid yourself with such "hypothetical situations." In many ways, the world really is as bad as the worst hypothetical you can come up with. It's only because your brain can only handle so much stress at once that you choose to mostly ignore it. And I'm right there with you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Walk for Life 2012

So I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks. Of course, you can always check on my daily musings on my facebook page (which is always a great forum for sound intellectual conversation). Between thesis writing and making major life decisions (turns out I'll be living in Paris next year) I guess I haven't had much time for other things. Thus, I haven't had time to get out there and ask for sponsors for the Walk for Life, which is coming up soon. You can read about how important this event is to me here. And you can see pictures from the event in 2010 here.

Check out the ChipIn page here. Or, since you're already reading my blog, why don't you just donate on this cool ChipIn gadget!

I'll have more reflections on life, the universe, and everything pretty soon, I guess. Right now I'm pretty tired, and my thoughts are pretty scattered. Mostly I'm just trying to figure out my own life, so I don't know if I'm in a very good place to figure out the world around me.

But hey, there's always time for trying to help people.