Today is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It should be a happy day. But, as I peruse various media outlets, I am just getting sad.
Because it seems to me that there are still so many of the same problems in the world as there were on the day Dr. King died. So much misunderstanding, prejudice, hatred, strife, injustice, poverty. So much greed. So little cooperation. So little willingness to HEAR, to just close our mouths and LISTEN a little bit.
And I am not thinking here about just one issue, or just one side of any given issue. This is a problem with every issue of our day, and with every side of every issue. I'm not saying there aren't good people. Of course, there are. But, there is also a lot of angry noise out there, and a lot of disrespect.
Take for example, the issue of abortion. The two sides, whatever you want to call them -- the pro-lifers vs. the pro-choicers, the lifers vs. the choicers, the anti-choicers vs. the pro-aborts -- often seem to dig up and flash about for public consumption the very worst things about each other. For example, there are the stories from Lila Rose; and there are the stories of "pro-life" centers posing as places where women can get abortion referrals. There are accusations of misinformation being given out by both sides. In short, both sides can come up with plenty of tales of alleged misdeeds by the other side. And this, in my opinion, keeps both sides from actually having to deal with the sincere and real concerns of the other. It's kind of like the "straw-man" argument -- you keep the attention on the easy-to-criticize stuff and you never have to deal with the hard stuff, the stuff that's not so easy to face. And, again, I'm speaking about both sides here. I have spent most of my adult life in the company of those who would describe themselves as "pro-life." And I haven't heard many respectful things said about the pro-choice people. And I bet the pro-choice people don't have a lot of good things to say about the pro-life people.
Some of you may already know this, because I have mentioned it before. There was a woman I worked with -- years ago -- who had been a counselor in an abortion clinic. I could not have been described as "pro-choice," and she knew it. But -- wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles -- we got along well. I respected her greatly. She was a kind, soft-spoken, caring woman. She was the absolute opposite of how many pro-life people would have you think about a person who is employed as a counselor in an abortion clinic. So, when I hear the rhetoric of the "abortion wars," I think about this woman. I think about her concern for women who felt they had absolutely no other option.
Of course, things are somewhat different now. There are many more resources for people in "crisis pregnancies" than there were back then. And this is good. My point is, though, that we should not demonize the pro-choice people. Instead of that, let's work to build a culture where no woman feels like she has "no other option" than an abortion. This type of culture has to have not only pregnancy centers that provide baby supplies and financial assistance for medical care for the mothers. This type of culture must also have a true social safety net that can help these mothers (and fathers) actually raise these children to adulthood in a successful and dignified way. But, I think it also needs to be a culture where a woman who is seeking a legal abortion should not have to make her way past (or through) a crowd of people (sometimes angry people) with signs (sometimes ugly signs). That is not respectful of the woman. And I believe she deserves respect. Although, I know there are those who don't think she does.
As a case in point, I will tell this little tale:
A lovely young woman I know attended the Walk for Life in San Francisco one year. This young woman actually cares very much about other women who face unintended pregnancies. She does not judge women who have abortions. And as she told me of her experience, she said that there were "mean, old, white men" at the Walk. She said that she was appalled by their lack of compassion toward women who have abortions. She had never experienced this type of attitude before, and it upset her greatly. She also spoke of the pro-choice women who were standing along the route. She recounted that when the organizers of the Walk asked for the women to be in front (something which apparently annoyed some of the "old, white men"), the pro-choice women shouted, "Yes! Put the women in front! Let the women go in front!" And this delighted the "pro-life" woman who was appalled at the "mean, old, white men."
So, it just seems to me that there are people on both sides of this issue who might be willing to show some respect for each other. And I guess that gives me a little hope, on this MLK Day.