Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This is the truth in my life.
"The devil is pro-abortion - read John 8:44." What a statement, huh? What a bumper sticker. I saw it on the bumper of an SUV I happened to park next to at a nature center. As if I needed any more confirmation that ignorant people are on the roads ... and apparently in the parks too. I really shouldn't label this person I don't even know as ignorant. One of my motivations for this blog is to try to stimulate real open and informed dialogue with everyone, and I don't think that calling someone on the other side of an issue ignorant is a good first step, even of they are.
The problem with a message like this one that my non-acquaintance soccer mom was broadcasting is that it is presumptuous on a number of levels. If this person is simply letting others now how they feel on this sensitive and hotly debated issue, then fine. I have no problem with people informing others of their moral and ethical viewpoints, and even with their trying to convince others of the merit of their positions, even when their only 'proof' is in a religious text. What I have an issue with is using a slogan like this one as a part of a campaign to change the law. I don't think there is any need to embark on a detailed dissection of the division of church and state in order to conclude that religious arguments should not be used to argue for or against American laws. All Americans don't read or revere the bible. We are a multi-faith country, and that was the idea from the beginning.
Besides, no issue as important as abortion should be argued based only on one argument, and certainly not on a limited moral ground. The legality of abortion implicates a number of concerns, including: poverty, crime, education, individual freedoms, women's rights and their control over their own bodies, moral and ethical concerns, etc. No issue that involves people is ever going to be black and white, and, for me, anyone who takes such a simplistic approach is wrong, and ignorant. I am not won over by the abortion is murder argument. I actually agree that abortion ends life, but so does masturbation. And we allow the ending of life in other occasions (animal experimentation, the death penalty, war ...), so I have to be convinced why this is different. I don't think I can be so convinced, but I am willing to open myself to being wrong. If abortion is to be outlawed, either completely or after some stage or under some circumstances, that has to be justified by more than just a manufactured distinction between life and whatever comes before it.
Finally, if you are anti-abortion and you are actively trying to change the law, then you had damn well better be out in the community helping to lessen the impact of the ending of legalized abortion. It is not enough to force these births to take place, and then wash your hands of what happens once the baby is a baby. In my opinion, if right to life people devoted their efforts to eliminating the circumstances that lead people to seek abortions, the number of abortions would fall dramatically. That, however, is not as easy. Finding out why there is a problem never is easy. The American reaction is often to ignore the why. The war on drugs, the attempts to stop immigration, and our fiasco in Iraq are all examples. It really should be a simple lesson: you can't fix anything that you don't understand.
For the record here is John 8:44 - "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Someone will have to explain to me why this is particularly relevant here. Maybe I have a faulty translation.
If you want to order this, or other similarly styled advertisements for your car, go to http://www.childrenoftherosary.org/bumpmain.htm. There you can buy: "smile: your mom chose life," "abortion causes breast cancer," "abortion...the ultimate child abuse," "be a hero save a whale, save a baby go to jail," and my favorite "the ten commandments not the ten suggestions." I wonder how closely any of these zealots really stick to the commandments. Even the obvious not killing one seems unlikely to be followed (death penalty, war, self defense, etc.). Anyway, that is a topic for another time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"I will entertain my child by singing Dylan, U2, and Leonard Cohen. I will read Bukowski and Dylan Thomas. Phrases you will never hear coming out of my mouth include: itsy bitsy, gently down the stream, was his name-o, and see Jane run. Infants and toddlers only want to hear drivel if that's what you give to them. If I start my kid on great poets and songwriters from day one, he or she will be one step ahead of most kids and I will be way ahead of most parents. How many girlfriends do you think my future son will win over with his knowledge of Old MacDonald Had a Farm? Why should I have to listen to shit that sounds like a cross between Mister Rogers and Enya. If I play Kraftwerk at bed time, my kid will go to sleep to Kraftwerk." These exact words never came out of my mouth, but I have rather foolishly made quite a few assertions of this type in the past. The statements were true, given a particular context. It turns out they aren't true in the world where I actually have children. My daughter screams, and there I am on hands and knees begging her to follow my spider up the water spout. I can't even count the number of animal sounds I have mastered. I am actually quite proud of myself. I can't tell you how happy I was when my wife told me that I had impressed my in-laws with my sing-song-ability. I do play Dylan once in a while for Seren, but about the coolest I have been able to be on a consistent basis is Counting Crows, and that was a while ago. I have read a poem or two written by someone who doesn't normally appear in a costume and I have managed to read a non-chewable book or two, but very little of that kind of thing has happened while the child is awake. When I can throw in Frost or Eliot, I always have to chase it with Brown Bear or Pat the Bunny. Even six months ago, I would have told you I would never be singing those kinds of childish songs to my child. I was right, in a different world from the one I now live in.
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind--

--Emily Dickinson